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TDCI: Serve Up Fire Safety for Thanksgiving Day 2020

Remember Social Distancing, Kitchen Safety During Holiday Celebrations
Monday, November 23, 2020 | 10:04am

NASHVILLE – While Thanksgiving Day (November 26) occurs during the midst of an unprecedented time this year, the Tennessee State Fire Marshal’s Office reminds Tennesseans that good fire safety habits in the kitchen never change.

Although Thanksgiving is synonymous with gratitude and togetherness, it is also one of the busiest days of the year for fire departments. According to the National Fire Protection Association, Thanksgiving is the No.1 day of the year in the U.S. for home fires involving cooking equipment as three times the average number of fires occur. An estimated 2,000 Thanksgiving Day fires in residential buildings are reported to U.S. fire departments each year, according to the U.S. Fire Administration.

In Tennessee, 24.9% of reported home structure fires in 2019 involved cooking equipment. Those 1,541 fires resulted in eight civilian fatalities, 41 civilian injuries, three firefighter injuries and nearly $4.3 million of direct property damage, according to the Tennessee Fire Incident Reporting System.

This year has been difficult for many Tennessee families but I am thankful for and inspired by their resilience in the face of so much adversity and uncertainty,” said TDCI Commissioner and State Fire Marshal Carter Lawrence. “When celebrating Thanksgiving this year, I urge my fellow Tennesseans to safely celebrate by following health guidelines from the Tennessee Department of Health and to follow all fire safety precautions when cooking their Thanksgiving feast.”

Country music artist Tracy Lawrence partnered with TDCI and the Tennessee State Fire Marshal’s Office to help raise awareness about fire safety, including the importance of cooking safety. Tracy Lawrence will hold his 15th annual “Mission: Possible Turkey Fry and Benefit Concert” charity concert on November 24, 2020 as a virtual livestream event. Proceeds will support the Nashville Rescue Mission, which serves Nashville’s homeless communities. (The turkey fry is closed to the public.)

"As a lifelong firefighter, I have firsthand experience witnessing the devastation created by cooking fires," said Assistant Commissioner for Fire Gary Farley. "I urge Tennesseans to always take fire safety seriously when cooking."

To aid Tennesseans who may be frying turkeys or cooking this year, the SFMO offers these Thanksgiving fire safety tips:

  • Stay in the kitchen when you are frying, grilling or broiling. If you have to leave the room, even for a moment, turn off the stove’s burners.
  • Use a kitchen timer when boiling, simmering, baking or roasting to remind yourself to check what you are cooking.
  • Use caution with turkey fryers. The SFMO recommends that consumers utilize oil-free models.
  • Turkey fryers must always be used outdoors and a safe distance from buildings and other flammable materials.
  • Never use turkey fryers indoors or on a wooden deck.
  • Make sure the fryer is used on a flat surface to prevent accidental tipping.
  • Never leave a turkey fryer unattended. Most fryer units do not have thermostat controls. If you do not watch the fryer carefully, the oil will continue to heat until it catches fire.
  • Never let children or pets near the fryer, even if it is not in use. The oil inside the cooking pot can remain dangerously hot for hours after use.
  • To prevent spillover, do not overfill the fryer.
  • Use well-insulated potholders or oven mitts when touching pot or lid handles. If possible, wear safety goggles to protect your eyes from oil splatter.
  • Make sure the turkey is thawed and dry before cooking. Ice or water that mixes into the hot oil can cause flare-ups. The National Turkey Foundation recommends thawing the turkey in the refrigerator approximately 24 hours for every five pounds of weight.
  • Keep an all-purpose fire extinguisher nearby. Never use water to extinguish a grease or oil fire. If the fire is manageable, use your all-purpose fire extinguisher. If the fire increases, immediately call the fire department by dialing 911.

For more information on making your home fire-safe, download and print the SFMO home fire safety checklist.