Risk Of Cooking Fires Peaks At Thanksgiving


More cooking fires occur on Thanksgiving than just about any other day of the year.

Mike Lowe with the Delaware State Fire School told WGMD News that the primary cause of kitchen fires is inattentive cooking – a risk that grows with more people visiting and circulating in the kitchen.

Lowe said it’s recommended that you keep a fire extinguisher within reach of your appliances, but also near the door in case you have to get out in a hurry. If the fire doesn’t go out by covering a flaming pan or by closing the oven door, that’s a good time to call 911 and let the fire department handle it.

“The pandemic may limit the number of people in homes this year, but there will still be lots of the usual cooking and distractions that contribute to a sharp increase in cooking fires on and around Thanksgiving,” Delaware State Fire Chiefs Association President Brian Reeder said. “Being vigilant in the kitchen remains critical to ensuring a fire-safe holiday.”

The Delaware State Fire School and Delaware State Fire Chief’s Association offer these tips and recommendations for safely cooking this 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, or other items in the oven, stay in your home and check on it regularly.

Set a timer on your stove or phone 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 away from direct contact with the cooking area.

Avoid long sleeves and hanging fabrics that could 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 a grease 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 and areas where hot food or drink is being prepared or served. Steam or spills from these items can cause severe burns.