State fire commissioner offers safe cooking tips for Thanksgiving

HARRISBURG — State Fire Commissioner Tim Solobay is reminding Pennsylvanians to follow safe cooking recommendations when celebrating Thanksgiving this week with family and friends.

“The holidays typically bring a lot of happy times with family and friends,” Solobay said. “But failing to follow some basic safety rules can turn what should be happy memories into memories filled with sadness and regret.”

According to the National Fire Protection Association, fire companies in the United States responded to an estimated 1,760 home cooking fires on Thanksgiving 2015 – the highest number of such fires on any one day in the year. Unattended cooking was the leading contributing factor in home cooking fires and deaths.

Solobay shared the following reminders for safe holiday cooking:

  • Create a three-foot child-free zone around hot spots like stoves, turkey fryers and ovens using masking or painters tape on the floor. Get the kids involved in helping you tape off their “no-go zone,” then find kid-friendly ways they can help in the kitchen. Keep pets away from hot spots, too.
  • Turn pot handles toward the back of the stove so they’re not accidentally knocked off the stove.
  • Don’t let electric cords from potentially hot items such as coffee makers or toasters hang over the edge of the counter where a child or pet could pull on them.
  • Wear short sleeves, or roll up long sleeves so they won’t hang down and brush against burners.
  • Keep an eye on pots and pans; turn off all burners if you need to leave the kitchen.
  • Don’t ever use a turkey fryer on a wooden deck or in a garage; keep it away from your home and buildings.
  • Be careful not to overfill your turkey fryer, and make sure your turkey is completely thawed and dry before slowly lowering it into the fryer. Dropping it in quickly can cause oil to splash out, which could catch on fire.
  • Check your kitchen fire extinguisher to make sure it’s properly charged and ready for use. Purchase a fire extinguisher if you don’t have one.
  • Test your smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors this week to ensure they’re in working order when your friends and family arrive.

“If you plan to have guests staying with you over the holidays, be sure to review your home fire escape plan with them,” Solobay said. “Get it out of the way as soon as they arrive, so you can turn your attention to making those happy holiday memories.”