For many people, a marvelous centerpiece of the Thanksgiving holiday is sharing a meal with family and friends.
And that means many people will be cooking such meals in the coming days. Our wish is that all of these chefs and cooks can achieve their culinary dreams without the mishaps that, unfortunately, seem to occur with greater frequency on Thanksgiving Day.
According to the National Fire Protection Association, Thanksgiving Day brings three to four times as many cooking fires as compared to a typical day of the year.
In 2019, for example, about 1,400 home cooking fires were reported to fire departments in the United States — 228% above the daily average for the year.
Why so many cooking fires on Thanksgiving Day?
Well, there’s a whole lot of cooking going on, and a whole lot of distractions.
“Thanksgiving is a hectic holiday, with multiple dishes cooking and baking at the same time, along with lots of guests, entertaining, and other distractions in the home that can make it easy to lose sight of what’s on the stove or in the oven,” said Lorraine Carli, vice president of outreach and advocacy at NFPA, said in a prepared statement. “Unattended cooking is the leading cause of home cooking fires, so we strongly encourage people keep a close eye on what they’re cooking and to minimize the likelihood of getting distracted.”
As a public service, the association provided a list of recommendations for safe cooking this Thanksgiving, which includes basic advice such as not leaving the kitchen when cooking on the stovetop, and, if cooking a turkey, stang at home and checking on the turkey regularly.
Othe recommendations are:
• Use timers to track cooking times.
• Always cook with a lid beside the pan. If you there’s a fire, slide the lid over the pan and turn off the burner. Don’t remove the cover because the fire could start again; Let the pan cool for a long time.
• For an oven fire, keep the door closed and turn off the heat. Only open the door if certain that the fire is completely out, standing to the side when opening the door.
• Keep flammable items — oven mitts, wood utensils, food wrappers, etc. — at least three feet away from the cooking area. And, avoid wearing hanging fabrics and long sleeves that can come into contact with a heat source.
Recognizing the fried turkey trend, the NFPA strongly discourages using fryers that use cooking oil, “which can cause devastating burns.” The association recommends using a fryer that does not use oil — or simply buying a fried turkey from a store or restaurant.
As the association notes, most cooking fires are preventable. An incident-free Thanksgiving holiday in Ketchikan would be wonderful, and would give us one more thing for which to be thankful.