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Tips to avoid fires when preparing Thanksgiving feast
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Thanksgiving safety tips

Cooking

  • Stand by your pan.
  • If you leave the kitchen, turn the burner off.
  • Wear short sleeves or roll them up. Keep hair and clothes away from the burner.
  • Make sure children and pets stay at least 3 feet away from a hot stove.
  • Clean and clear the area around the stove before you turn.
  • Turn pot handles toward the back of the stove so no one can bump them or pull them over.
  • Keep a pan lid or a cookie sheet nearby. Use it to cover the pan if it catches on fire.
  • Move things that can burn away from the stove. This includes dishtowels, bags, boxes, paper and curtains.

A special note on turkey fryers

  • The National Fire Protection Association discourages the use of outdoor gas-fueled turkey fryers that immerse the turkey in hot oil.
  • Turkey fryers can lead to devastating burns, other injuries and the destruction of property.
  • Leave it to the professionals — grocery stores, restaurants and food retailers can prepare the dish.

If the pan catches fire

  • Keep the pan where it is. Do not move it.
  • Slide the pan lid or a cookie sheet on top of the pan to smother the fire.
  • Turn off the heat.
  • Keep the lid on the pan until it is cool.
  • Never try to stop a grease or oil fire with water — water will make the fire bigger.

If fire gets out of hand

  • When in doubt, just get out. Call the fire department from outside.
  • Get everyone outside fast. Go to your outside meeting place and call 911.
  • After you get out, stay out. Never go back inside a burning building.

Hall County Fire Department

Fire officials are warning residents not to let food and fun distract them from keeping an eye on the fire hazards that come with cooking the turkey.

“We’ve already had three oven fires this week,” said Hall County Fire Marshall Scott Cagle. “We’re not even to the main day when people cook, which is usually Wednesday and Thursday.”

Cooking is the main cause of home fires and fire injuries, Cagle said, and almost always preventable, caused by unattended cooking or human error.

More cooking fires occur on Thanksgiving Day than on any other day of the year, he added.

“Whether it’s on the oven or on top of the stove, the main thing is just to keep an eye on what you’re doing,” he said. “It’s known for being a busy time — spending it with family, cleaning, decorating — so I think a lot of times, fires are because people just forget that food is on the stove.”

No one is immune to distraction, he added, so staying in the kitchen and keeping the stove in sight is crucial.

Cagle said the department urges keeping a watch on children as well.

“We really press people to have a safe area in your kitchen, meaning, no children,” he said. “Again, with it being a busy time, you have more people in your house than usual. Rooms are going to get crowded; the kitchen’s going to get crowded.”

Unfortunately, little ones can be vulnerable to accidental burn injuries when actions aren’t monitored, he said.

“An example happened just yesterday. We had a 4-year-old pull down a pot of hot water, and the child had a small burn on their shoulder,” Cagle said, adding, “It could have been a lot worse.”

Cagle had a special word of warning for an increasingly popular culinary choice — fried turkey.

“Be careful frying anything this holiday season. We automatically think of the turkey fryers people started using,” he said. “They are a fire hazard and a burn injury hazard, and we are urging people to be very careful with those.”

No home turkey fryers have been given a stamp of approval by Underwriters Laboratories, which tests “practically everything” that is sold for safety, Cagle said.

“These things can be way too dangerous,” he said. “No. 1, a lot of people don’t completely thaw out the turkey before they fry it — if you still have ice crystals inside that turkey, that thing is going to blow over.”

Another dangerous mistake is putting the turkey in too much oil, or cooking in an improper, flammable spot.

“A lot of time people cook them on a back wooden deck, rather than a concrete surface — you don’t want to use a combustible surface,” he said.

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