State Fire Marshal shares Thanksgiving fire safety tips

As families across Tennessee gather for Thanksgiving Day feasts on Thursday, Nov. 25, 2021, the Tennessee Department of Commerce & Insurance (TDCI) and the Tennessee State Fire Marshal’s Office remind Tennesseans that the recipe for a safe celebration includes fire-safe cooking habits.

Unfortunately, cooking equipment is a major contributor to home fires. In Tennessee, 27 percent of reported home structure fires in 2020 involved cooking equipment. Those 1,624 fires resulted in 13 civilian fatalities58 civilian injuries10 firefighter injuries, and over $7 million in direct property damage, according to the Tennessee Fire Incident Reporting System.

“The holidays are a special time of the year, full of togetherness and traditions,” said TDCI Assistant Commissioner for Fire Prevention Gary Farley. “When celebrating Thanksgiving this year, I urge all Tennesseans to be mindful of fire safety in the kitchen in order to avoid accidentally starting a home fire.”

To aid Tennesseans who may be cooking this year, the SFMO offers these Thanksgiving fire safety tips:

  • Avoid distractions. Stay in the kitchen when you are frying, grilling or broiling. If you have to leave the room, even for a moment, turn off the stove’s burners.
  • Never consume alcohol while cooking.
  • Use a kitchen timer when boiling, simmering, baking or roasting to remind yourself to check what you are cooking.
  • Use caution with turkey fryers. The SFMO recommends that consumers always utilize oil-free models.
  • Turkey fryers should always be used outdoors and kept a safe distance from homes, buildings and other flammable materials.
  • Never use turkey fryers indoors or on a wooden deck.
  • Make sure the fryer is used on a flat surface to prevent accidental tipping.
  • Never leave a turkey fryer unattended. Most fryer units do not have thermostat controls. If you do not watch the fryer carefully, the oil will continue to heat and could boil over, resulting in a fire.
  • Never let children or pets near the fryer, even if it is not in use. The oil inside the cooking pot can remain dangerously hot for hours after use.
  • To prevent spillover, do not overfill the fryer.
  • Use well-insulated potholders or oven mitts when touching pot or lid handles. If possible, wear safety goggles to protect your eyes from oil splatter.
  • Make sure the turkey is thawed and dry before cooking. Ice or water that mixes into the hot oil can cause flare-ups.
  • Keep an all-purpose fire extinguisher nearby. Never use water to extinguish a grease or oil fire. Instead, put a lid over the flame, exit the home and call your local fire department by dialing 9-1-1.
  • Make sure your home’s smoke alarms are working. Need working smoke alarms? Contact your local fire department and ask if they participate in our “Get Alarmed, Tennessee!” program.

For more information on making your home fire-safe, download and print the SFMO home fire safety checklist.

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