ST. GEORGE –A house fire isn’t something people generally associate with preparing Thanksgiving dinner. However, according to the National Fire Protection Association, Thanksgiving is the peak day for house fires caused by cooking, followed by Christmas Day and Christmas Eve.
“There’s a minor uptick in kitchen-related fires during the holiday season, especially related to cooking,” St. George Fire Marshall Kevin Taylor said.
The number one cause of kitchen fires is somebody leaving food unattended while it continues to cook, Taylor said.
One area where Taylor has seen a decrease is in calls related to people deep-frying turkeys. While the St. George Fire Department did respond to a number of calls involving the deep fryers a couple of years ago, he said, it’s tapered off.
Either the fad of deep-frying the turkey has run its course (at least in St. George and the surrounding area), or people have learned how to use the fryers safely, Taylor said.
If there are two items the fire marshal wants to stress, though, it’s making sure smoke alarms are checked and working and that people know where the fire extinguishers are in their homes.
“An item we stress continually, whether it’s a holiday or not, is always to check your smoke detectors and make sure they’re operational,” Taylor said. “We can’t stress that enough.”
He added that it’s always good to know where the fire extinguisher is so you have quick access to it.
According to a report issued by the National Fire Protection Association, or NFPA, during the month of November – between 2012 and 2014 – during each of those years fire departments across the United States responded to an estimated average of 166,100 home structure fire calls involving cooking equipment. Nearly half of those calls were caused by cooking.
Other numbers related to Thanksgiving and cooking-related fires:
- In 2014, nearly four times as many home cooking fires occur on Thanksgiving as on a typical day.
- In 2014, U.S. fire departments responded to an estimated 1,730 home cooking fires on Thanksgiving, the peak day for such fires.
- Unattended cooking was by far the leading contributing factor in cooking fires and fire deaths.
- Cooking equipment was involved in almost half (48 percent) of all reported home fires. It tied with heating equipment for the second leading cause of home fire deaths.
To help make sure the warmth of the holidays stays in the food and the hearts of those who receive it rather than a blaze consuming a home, Taylor said the NFPA provides a good list of anti-fire safety tips that can be taken advantage of Thanksgiving Day. That list follows below:
- Stay in the kitchen when you are cooking on the stove-top so you can keep an eye on the food.
- Stay in the home when cooking your turkey and check on it frequently.
- Keep children away from the stove. The stove will be hot and kids should stay 3 feet away.
- Make sure kids stay away from hot food and liquids. The steam or splash from vegetables, gravy or coffee could cause serious burns.
- Keep the floor clear so you don’t trip over kids, toys, pocketbooks or bags.
- Keep knives out of the reach of children.
- Be sure electric cords from an electric knife, coffee maker, plate warmer or mixer are not dangling off the counter within easy reach of a child.
- Keep matches and utility lighters out of the reach of children — up high in a locked cabinet.
- Never leave children alone in room with a lit candle.
- Make sure your smoke alarms are working. Test them by pushing the test button.
“We’ll be available to respond to calls, but we’d rather that people enjoy the holiday without incident,” Taylor said.
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