Thanksgiving is one of the most celebrated holidays of the year, a time when family and friends come together to celebrate one another. It is also one of the busiest days of the year for home fires. According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), in 2015, there were approximately four times as many cooking fires on Thanksgiving as there were on a normal day, and in 2016, U.S. fire departments responded to an estimated 1,570 home cooking fires on Thanksgiving, the peak day for such fires. With the holiday rapidly approaching, the Firemen’s Association of the State of New York (FASNY) urges New Yorkers to pay attention to fire hazards and to stay safe during the holiday.

“Across New York, families and friends are starting to prepare for this wonderful holiday,” said FASNY President Steven Klein. “The fact remains that home fires are more likely to occur on Thanksgiving than regular days, and FASNY encourages all New Yorkers to take fire safety seriously. Please be sure to follow some simple tips and advice to avert a tragedy. Even on a holiday, New York’s brave volunteer firefighters will be ready to respond, and we ask that nobody hesitate to dial 9-1-1 in the event of an emergency. We wish everybody a very happy and safe Thanksgiving.”

The most common factors in home cooking fires and ways to avoid them:

Unattended Cooking - the leading cause of fires in the kitchen: Stay in the kitchen while you are frying, grilling, or broiling food. If you leave the kitchen for even a short time, turn off the stove. If you are simmering, baking, roasting, or boiling food, check it regularly. Remain in the home while food is cooking, and use a timer to remind yourself that you are cooking, as guests, phones, children, pets and other activity can easily distract a cook.

Objects near the cooking catching fire: Clothing ignitions lead to approximately 16 percent of home cooking fire deaths. It is important to wear short, close-fitting, or tightly rolled sleeves as loose clothing can dangle onto stove burners or gas flames and catch fire. Keep the cooking area clean and combustible materials away from your stove top: built-up grease as well as oven mitts, food packaging, wooden utensils, towels, curtains and other materials on or near the stove can catch fire.

Cooking equipment unintentionally turned on or not turned off. Be on alert! If you are sleepy or have consumed alcohol don’t use the stove or stovetop. Have children turned the stove on?

Deep-frying turkeys: Turkey fryers that immerse the turkey in cooking oil at high temperatures pose a significant danger of hot oil being released or spilled during cooking, leading to devastating burns, other injuries and property destruction.

Hot cooking oil exposed to water or outdoor elements: If rain or snow strikes hot cooking oil in propane-fired turkey fryers designed for outdoor use, the result can be a splattering of the hot oil or a conversion of the precipitation to steam, which can lead to burns. Frozen and defrosting turkeys also create the risk of contact between water and hot cooking oil, which can cause severe scalding or other serious injury.

Never fry a frozen turkey. Please click here for more information from the NFPA and a video demonstrating how dangerous this is.

If you do have a cooking fire:

Just get out! When you leave, close the door behind you to help contain the fire.
Call 911 or the local emergency number after you leave.
For an oven fire, turn off the heat and keep the door closed.
Do not use water to put out a grease fire. Use an appropriate fire extinguisher, or baking soda, salt, or a tight lid. Keep the lid nearby when you’re cooking, to smother small grease fires. Smother the fire by sliding the lid over the pan and turn off the stovetop. Leave the pan covered until it is completely cooled. Always keep a box of baking soda near the stove.

Please visit the NFPA’s website, www.nfpa.org, for more information on fire safety.