HIGHLAND PARK – Turkeys aren’t the only things that get burnt on Thanksgiving.
There are about 3,000 house and garage fires in the United States attributed to people deep frying turkeys around the holidays, according to Highland Park Deputy Fire Chief Larry Amidei.
The Highland Park Fire Department sees an increase of fire calls around the holidays — Most are related to stoves, ovens, and fireplace accidents rather than deep-frying apparatus.
“Residents should make sure they open the flue on their fireplaces before starting a fire and make sure they clean their ovens with all the extra cooking that is performed during the holidays,” said Amidei.
Other big causes of holiday fires include candles, dry Christmas trees and holiday decoration electrical mishaps. Amidei advised that people should check the water on their trees frequently, monitor candle use at all times, and avoid multiple extension cords for decorations.
Country Financial offered tips on keeping the kitchen fire free:
- Test your smoke detectors and check your fire extinguisher the day before you begin cooking. This will give you time to buy replacement batteries or extinguishers. Don’t forget to have a kitchen rated fire extinguisher on hand. It will do a better job of putting out grease fires.
- Think twice before frying. Frying a turkey requires cooking a substantial amount of oil at very high temperatures which could easily lead to severe burns and devastating grease fires. Consider using an oil-less air fryer to create the same taste instead. If you are deep frying a turkey, use the fryer outside and on the bare ground or driveway. Do not use the fryer on a wood deck, under a tent or on top of a tarp. Make sure to keep people away from the hot grease.
- Keep kids preoccupied. Keep children safe by designating the kitchen as a no-play zone. Plan alternate activities they can do in a nearby room. If you have younger helpers on hand, never leave them unattended.
- Stay near the kitchen. A whole turkey takes a while to cook, but if you need to leave the kitchen, designate someone to watch the stove. Fires can cause damage almost instantly.
- Reduce heat when possible. Remember, stovetop items containing oil and other liquids splash when boiling or simmering. Protect your hands and upper arms with gloves or potholders when possible.
COUNTRY Financial added that cooking equipment was involved in almost half (48 percent) of all reported home fires and tied with heating equipment for the second leading cause of home fire deaths.
In addition to house fires, the HP Fire Department’s Amedei said apartment building fires present problems because people often don’t know whether to stay in place or to try to get out.
“Below are some tips, but each building presents its own challenges depending on age, physical ability of the occupant, and the building configuration,” said Amidei. “Please consult your local fire department to help develop a plan for your building.”
Fire Prevention Tips for Apartment Buildings:
- Prevention is key. Carefully guard all flammable materials, especially cigarettes and candles, and watch for electrical hazards like fraying chords and overloaded power strips.
- Make sure your fire detection system is in place and operational. There should be working fire detectors on every floor of your residence, especially in the bedroom in case a fire should occur at night.
- If a fire does occur, having an escape plan will help you keep a clear head and avoid panic. Map out an evacuation route and, even if it seems unnecessary, practice your escape. Remember, during a fire, you don’t want any doubt about where to go. It’s a good idea to set a meeting place for your family to gather once out of the building. That way, you can alert fire crews if anyone is missing.
- If you do find yourself in a fire, especially in an unfamiliar place where you haven’t prepared a plan, don’t rush. Before you leave the apartment or room, feel the door to make sure it’s cool. If it’s hot, never open it. You could add oxygen to the fire and put yourself in more danger. Should you find yourself trapped, stuff damp towels or sheets around the door to prevent smoke from leaking through. If you can, call the fire department and tell them where you are in the building, or try to signal your location to people down below.
- If you are able to open a cool door, never use the elevator to leave the building, always find the staircase. Remember, smoke rises so if you encounter a smoky area, drop to the floor and crawl under it if you can. Close every door behind you to prevent the fire from spreading. Once you are outside, call the fire department immediately.