Thanksgiving safety tips

According to the National Fire Protection Association, each year, nearly 4,300 fires in the United States occur on Thanksgiving Day

The fires have caused 15 fatalities, about 50 injuries, and nearly $27 million in property damage every year. A majority of these incidents involved cooking, particularly deep fryers. 

According to the US Consumer Products Safety Commission, more than 78 people have been injured since 1998 using deep fryers to cook turkeys with a majority of these incidents involving frozen or partially frozen turkeys.

Below are some safety tips for cooking this Thanksgiving:

  • Turkey fryers should always be used outdoors, a safe distance from buildings and any other material that can burn. 
  • Never use turkey fryers on wooden decks or in garages. 
  • Make sure the fryers are used on a flat surface to reduce accidental tipping. 
  • Never leave the fryer unattended. Most units do not have thermostat controls. If you don't watch the fryer carefully, the oil will continue to heat until it catches fire. Use a cooking thermometer.
  • Never let children or pets near the fryer when in use. Even after use, never allow children or pets near the turkey fryer. The oil inside the cooking pot can remain dangerously hot for hours after use.
  • To avoid oil spillover, do not overfill the fryer. 
  • Use well-insulated potholders or oven mitts when touching pot or lid handles. Wear safety goggles to protect your eyes from oil splatter. 
  • Make sure the turkey is completely thawed and be careful with marinades. Oil and water don't mix, and water causes oil to spill over, causing a fire or even an explosion hazard. 
  • The National Turkey Federation recommends refrigerator thawing and to allow approximately 24 hours for every five pounds of bird thawed in the refrigerator. 
  • Keep an all-purpose fire extinguisher nearby. Never use water to extinguish a grease fire. Remember to use your best judgment when attempting to fight a fire. If the fire is manageable, use an all-purpose fire extinguisher. If the fire increases, [get away and immediately call 9-1-1 for help.

Please exercise caution as you enjoy the upcoming holidays. If you have any additional questions or concerns, please contact Dalton Sawyer, the UNC Health Care Emergency Preparedness Coordinator, or Tim Wisner, UNC Health Care Senior Safety Officer.