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Tips for keeping your Thanksgiving safe

Millions of Americans have already purchased their turkey or ham and all of the fixings needed for their annual Thanksgiving Day feast.  While many will spend the holiday surrounded by family and friends, others will spend it and the days surrounding it in the emergency room.

“After working in the kitchen all day on Thanksgiving, the last thing you want to do is drive to the emergency room with severe burns, or clean up from a bad fire,” said Eric Vanasdale, senior loss control representative at COUNTRY Financial®.

Thanksgiving Day holds the yearly record for cooking-related fires, according to the National Fire Protection Association(NFPA). With the increasing use of turkey fryers, these numbers continue to increase.

Thanksgiving by the numbers

·         Thanksgiving is the peak day for home cooking fires, followed by Christmas Day and Christmas Eve

·         Unattended cooking was by far the leading contributing factor in cooking fires and fire deaths according to 2014 NFPA data

·         Cooking equipment was involved in almost half (48 percent) of all reported home fires and civilian and tied with heating equipment for the second leading cause of home fire deaths.

To ensure your Thanksgiving is fire free, we suggest following these five tips to stay safe in the kitchen:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.

“Some of these tips may seem like a no-brainer but people often forget safety basics when they’re multitasking and pressed for time,” said Vanasdale. “The added stress of the holidays can also lead to poor judgment and unwanted injuries.”