Thanksgiving turkey

Remind households to cook with caution on Thanksgiving Day, by far the leading day of the year for home cooking fires

Thanksgiving Day is by far the leading day for home cooking fires, with more than three times as many cooking fires occurring on that day as a typical day of the year. In 2019, an estimated 1,400 home cooking fires were reported to U.S. fire departments on Thanksgiving, reflecting a 228 percent increase over the daily average. Meanwhile, cooking is by far the leading cause of home fires year-round, with unattended cooking serving as the leading cause.

The spike in cooking fires on Thanksgiving Day can largely be attributed to the fact that it often involves cooking multiple dishes at once, along with lots of distractions that make it easy to lose sight of what’s on the stove and in the oven.  But there’s no reason to let these activities and circumstances put a crimp in anyone’s meal plans.

Keeping a close eye on what’s cooking on the stove and in the oven, along with understanding where potential hazards exist in and around the kitchen, can go a long way toward ensuring a fire-safe holiday.

Following are tips and recommendations for cooking safely this Thanksgiving, which we encourage public safety educators and advocates to share with your communities:

  • 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 you have a fire, slide the lid over the pan and turn off the burner. Do not remove the cover because the fire could start again. Let the pan cool for a long time. Never throw water or use a fire extinguisher on the fire.
  • 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 at least three feet away from the stove. Kids should also stay away from hot foods and liquids, as steam or splash from these items could cause severe burns.

In addition, NFPA strongly discourages the use of turkey fryers, as these can lead to severe burns, injuries, and property damage. Grocery stores, food retailers, and restaurants often sell deep-fried turkeys, which can serve as a safe alternative to frying one at home.

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