Home Cooked Thanksgiving Meal Could be Risky Business
Posted by: Linda Kay | November 3, 2014
According to statistics from the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), Thanksgiving is the peak day of the year for home cooking fires. A study by State Farm indicates that grease and cooking-related claims more than double on Thanksgiving Day compared to an average day in November. Texas also has the dubious distinction of leading the country in Thanksgiving Day claims in State Farm’s survey. While we’re all looking forward to our favorite dishes, we thought we’d collect some tips to keep your Thanksgiving on track.
Based on 2007 – 2011 annual averages, the NFPA lists these six items as the top reasons for cooking fires.
Unattended cooking was by far the leading contributing factor in these fires.
Two-thirds (67%) of home cooking fires started with the ignition of food or other cooking materials.
Clothing was the item first ignited in less than 1% of these fires, but these incidents accounted for 15% of the cooking fire deaths.
Ranges accounted for the largest share (57%) of home cooking fire incidents. Ovens accounted for 16%.
More than half (55%) of reported non-fatal home cooking fire injuries occurred when the victims tried to fight the fire themselves.
Frying poses the greatest risk of fire.
The growing popularity of deep frying turkeys has contributed to the Thanksgiving Day disasters. Though a deep fried turkey is very good, the actual frying can be extremely dangerous. According to the U.S. Fire Administration (USFA), nearly 4,300 fires occur on Thanksgiving causing 15 deaths and almost $27 million in property damage, many of them due to deep frying accidents.
If you intend to deep fry your bird, let’s start with figuring out how to make sure the hot oil doesn’t overflow into the fire.
Most deep fried turkey recipes call for peanut, corn or canola oil—but just how much oil is necessary? Many turkey frying accidents happen when too much cooking oil is used and spills over the pot, catching fire when the turkey is dropped in.
Here is a simple way to figure out how much oil to use:
- Place the turkey - still in the plastic wrap - in pot
- Fill with water until the turkey is covered by about 1/2 inch of water
- Remove and dry turkey (a wet turkey can cause oil to splatter latter)
- Mark water level. Dump water, dry the pot, and fill with oil to the marked level
The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) says that most turkey frying accidents occur while the oil is being heated, prior to even adding the turkey. This means we must be extra vigilant when heating the oil, and turn off the fryer immediately if any smoke appears.
The CPSP also thoughtfully provided these additional tips.
- NEVER leave a fryer unattended.
- Place fryer in an open area AWAY from all walls, fences, or other structures.
- Never use your fryer IN, ON, or UNDER a garage, breezeway, carport, porch, or any structure that can catch fire.
- Completely thaw (USDA says 24 hours for every 4 to 5 pounds) and dry turkey before cooking. Partially frozen and/or wet turkeys can produce excessive hot oil splatter when added to the oil.
- Center the pot over the burner on the cooker.
- Raise and lower food SLOWLY to reduce splatter and avoid burns.
- COVER bare skin when adding or removing food.
- Check the oil temperature frequently.
- If oil begins to smoke, immediately turn gas supply OFF.
- If a fire occurs, immediately call 911. DO NOT attempt to extinguish fire with water.
We would also like to add that having a fire extinguisher in your kitchen are is always a great idea. For information on which type of extinguisher and how large, here’s the link to the NFPA fire extinguisher page. Click here.
For great information about thawing, preparing, and cooking your turkey our friends at Butterball have it all laid out for you. Click here.
We wish you a happy and safe Thanksgiving.
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