BLOOMINGTON — More home cooking fires happen on Thanksgiving Day than any other day of the year, according to the National Fire Protection Association.
During 2015, the most recent year for which data are available, fire departments nationwide responded to more than 1,760 home cooking fires on Thanksgiving.
"Thanksgiving is a time to celebrate with family and friends," said Illinois State Fire Marshal Matt Perez. "The last thing we want to see is your holiday ruined by a devastating fire."
One reason for the high number is because of the large number of people in kitchens on Thanksgiving. Not only are there more people cooking more food but there are more people watching — sometimes small children — in a relatively small space.
"People often forget safety basics when they're multitasking and pressed for time," said Eric Vanasdale, senior loss control representative for Bloomington-based Country Financial. "The added stress of the holidays can also lead to poor judgment and unwanted injuries."
Another reason for the high numbers may be the increasing use of turkey fryers, Vanasdale said.
Country Financial recommends that all cooks wear gloves or use potholders to reduce the risk of burns. Designate the kitchen as a no-play zone for children; plan activities for them in another room.
The National Fire Protection Association recommends that people check on their turkey frequently while it is cooking; stay in the kitchen when cooking on the stove top; turn pot handles inward over the stove to reduce the risk of accidental tips; and keep the floor clear to reduce the risk of tripping.
If there is a stove top fire, put a lid on it, the fire protection association said. If there is an oven fire, keep the door closed and turn off the heat.
Have a fire extinguisher nearby and use it in the case of a fire and call 911. If there is a grease fire, don't use water.
Country Financial recommends thinking twice about frying a turkey because that requires a substantial amount of oil at high temperatures, increasing the risk of burns and grease fires. Consider using an oil-less air fryer.
If you must deep fry, use the fryer outside and on the bare ground or driveway, Country Financial said. Keep other people away. Make sure the turkey is thawed and dry, turn off the burner, then lower the turkey into the oil. Turn the heat back on when the turkey is submerged.