This Thanksgiving, thousands of home cooks across the United States will dust off their turkey fryers in preparation for the big meal. Unfortunately, turkey fryers are one of the most dangerous appliances on the market. Every year, splattered hot oil leads to tragic, unintended house fires.
It’s not just the turkey fryer that home cooks need to worry about. If you’re like me, cooking for the big day involves juggling pots boiling over on the stove, pans of food baking a little too quickly in the oven and a microwave that’s constantly beeping. In our attempt to “do it all”, it’s all too easy to turn around and find a pot on fire.
Whether you’re a seasoned pro or cooking Thanksgiving dinner for the first time this year, a little safety preparation before the big day can reduce your risk for accidental kitchen fires.
Leave smoke alarms connected while cooking. If your smoke alarm is highly sensitive, it’s especially tempting to turn it off while you’re cooking. Who wants to deal with that annoying beeping every time you open the oven? But the smoke alarm is just doing its job. It can save your life—and those of your guests—if it’s installed and properly working.
Clean your stove prior to cooking. Grease naturally builds up on burners and cooktop surfaces. Scrub the stove down prior to cooking to prevent grease fires.
Keep a fire extinguisher in the kitchen. The extinguisher should be rated for both grease and electrical fires. To use it, remember the acronym P.A.S.S.: Pull the pin; Aim the nozzle at the base of the fire; Squeeze the nozzle to spray; Sweep back and forth at the base of the fire as you spray.
Know what to do in the event of a fire. If a fire starts in the oven or microwave, turn off or unplug the appliance, and keep the door closed until the fire burns out. If a fire starts on the stove, turn off the burner and slide a lid on the pan.
Less is more. Too much multi-tasking is a recipe for disaster. Declare the kitchen a no-child, no-pet zone. Keep the range free of clutter, only cook with as many pots and pans as there are burners, and never hold a child in one arm while cooking.
Beware the turkey fryer. The taste of crisp fried turkey is a delicious and traditional part of many family celebrations. However, splattered hot oil causes burns and house fires. If you want fried turkey, consider buying yours pre-cooked from the store or using an infrared turkey fryer to safely cook your bird. Infrared heat locks in flavor and moisture without the risk of hot oil burns, splatters and spills. Even better, there’s no messy clean up.