LUMBERTON — Thanksgiving is a time for friends and family to gather and stuff themselves with turkey, but it can also be a deadly time.
According to a statement from Lumberton Fire Chief Paul Ivey, three times as many home fires occur on Thanksgiving than any other day. According to the National Fire Protection Agency, 1,370 fires were reported on Thanksgiving Day in he United States in 2010, a 219 percent increase from the daily average.
“Thanksgiving is a fun, festive holiday, but it’s also very hectic,” Ivey said in the statement. “All of the entertaining and distractions make it easy to forget about what’s cooking on the stove. Most holiday fires result from unattended cooking.”
According to the statement, about 156,400 house fires in 2010 were caused by cooking equipment, resulting in 420 deaths, 5,310 injuries and $993 million in property damage.
Ivey offered the following safety tips to help ensure your Thanksgiving dinner doesn’t turn into a tragedy.
n Have a fully charged fire extinguisher in your kitchen.
n Wear short, close-fitting or tightly rolled sleeves when cooking to keep sleeves away from a burner.
n Always stay in the kitchen while cooking food. If you have to leave, turn off the stove.
n Keep anything that can catch fire away from the stove top.
n Keep children at least 3 feet away from any cooking area.
n When cooking food, use a timer to remind you that you are cooking, and stay alert.
If you have a cooking fire:
n Keep a lid nearby when cooking to smother small grease fires. Smother the fire by sliding the lid over the pan and turn off the stove top. Leave the pan covered until it is completely cooled.
n Do not put water on a grease fire.
n When in doubt, just get out. Close the door behind you to contain the fire and call 911 from outside the home.
Turkey fryer safety tips:
n Use turkey fryers outdoors, a safe distance from buildings and any other combustible materials. Never use turkey fryers in a garage or on wood deck.
n Make sure fryers are used on a flat surface to reduce accidental tipping.
n Never leave the fryer unattended. If you do not watch the fryer carefully, the oil will continue to heat until it catches fire.
n Never let children or pets near the fryer even if it is not in use. The oil can remain hot hours after use.
n Do not overfill the fryer.
n Use insulated potholders or oven mitts when touching pot or lid handles and wear safety goggles to protect your eyes from oil splatter.
n Make sure the turkey is completely thawed and be careful with marinades. Water can cause oil to spill over causing a fire or even an explosion hazard.
The National Turkey Federation recommends thawing the turkey in the refrigerator approximately 24 hours for every five pounds in weight.