The National Fire Protection Association® (NFPA®) urges added caution when cooking on Thanksgiving Day, by far the leading day of the year for home cooking fires. In 2021, an estimated 1,160 home cooking fires were reported to U.S fire departments on Thanksgiving Day, reflecting a 297 percent increase over the daily average.
“Thanksgiving is a hectic holiday with multiple dishes cooking and baking at the same time, along with lots of guests, entertaining, and other distractions that can make it easy to lose sight of what’s on the stove or in the oven,” said Lorraine Carli, vice president of Outreach and Advocacy at NFPA. “With all these factors at play, it’s not surprising that the number of cooking fires spikes so dramatically.”
Overall, cooking is the leading cause of U.S. home fires and injuries, and the second-leading cause of home fire deaths. Unattended cooking is the leading contributing factor in cooking fires and fire deaths.
“Keeping a close eye on what’s cooking and minimizing the likelihood of getting distracted are key steps people can take to ensure a festive, fire-free holiday,” said Carli.
Following are additional tips and recommendations from NFPA to help cook safely on Thanksgiving:
- Never leave the kitchen while cooking on the stovetop. Some types of cooking, especially those that involve frying or sautéing with oil, need continuous attention.
- When cooking a turkey, remain at home and check it regularly.
- Make use of timers to keep track of cooking times, particularly for foods that require longer cook times.
- Keep things that can catch fire like oven mitts, wooden utensils, food wrappers, and towels at least three feet away from the cooking area.
- Avoid long sleeves and hanging fabrics that can come in contact with a heat source.
- Always cook with a lid beside your pan. If a small grease fire starts, smother the flames by sliding the lid over the pan, then turn off the burner. Do not remove the cover because the fire could start again. Let the pan cool for a long time.
- For an oven fire, turn off the heat and keep the door closed. Only open the door once you’re confident the fire is completely out, standing to the side as you do. If you have any doubts or concerns, contact the fire department for assistance.
- Keep children and pets at least three feet away from the stove and areas where hot food or drink is prepared or carried. Hot foods and liquids should be placed away from table and counter edges.
In addition, NFPA strongly discourages the use of turkey fryers that use cooking oil, which can cause devastating burns. For a safe alternative, NFPA recommends purchasing a fried turkey from a grocery store or restaurant or buying a fryer that does not use oil.