A warning to cooks: Firefighters say these are the most common Thanksgiving fire fails

Firefighter demonstrates deep-frying turkey
Photo credit Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — Thanksgiving can be a wonderful holiday — but it’s also a dangerous one. 

According to the U.S. Fire Administration, the number of house fires doubles on Thanksgiving Day. However, you can take preventive measures to make sure this doesn’t happen to you or your turkey.

Philadelphia Fire Department Administrative Lt. Ronald Monroe understands many people will deep-fry a turkey, but if it’s not completely defrosted and dry before you place it in the oil, you’ll get flames.

“If you do not allow the turkey to thaw out completely, it is going to spill over and spew oil out and send oil flying into the air,” he said.

Monroe added to never place a turkey fryer on a deck.

“Your deck is made of wood. Wood is flammable. At least do it in hard cement,” he said.

For those who prefer to bake the turkey and use the stove top for the sides, Monroe recommends making sure both the oven and stove top are clean and in good working order. Keep pot holders and dish towels away from the stove top, too. 

And if you’re in the process of cooking, stay in the kitchen.

“You should not leave the area where food is cooking. You turn your back for one minute and something can catch on fire,” he said.

Always look when you cook! #Thanksgiving pic.twitter.com/uQcMMbPRB9

— Philadelphia Fire (@PhillyFireDept) November 27, 2019

Monroe said it’s helpful to assign one person to answer the door and hand out beverages while the other focuses on the meal.

Albert Comly, president of the Wissahickon Fire Company and fire marshal of Lower Gwynedd Township in Montgomery County, has seen his own share of Thanksgiving fires over the years.

“You can always tell when it's Thanksgiving. We seem to get calls about 10:30, 11 in the morning when they start to use their oven that hasn't been cleaned since last year. Then they throw flour on it and before you know it, we have a fire in the kitchen,” he explained.

Comly’s pro tip: Baking soda will extinguish a fire, but flour is combustible and will make it worse. Don’t use water either. The best way to put out a fire on the stove is to smother it.