The Dangers of Cooking Thanksgiving Dinner

Tuesday, Nov. 23 — Thanksgiving dinner dangerous?!? Why, Thanksgiving is for succulent, juicy turkey and all the trimmings — potatoes and home-baked rolls and pies — it’s certainly not dangerous, right? But the Prince William County Department of Fire and Rescue is highlighting some sobering statistics that all home cooks should remember as kitchens get active over the next couple days with Thanksgiving drawing close. Here are a few bullet points that should give pause to anyone preparing Thanksgiving dinner:

  • The number one cause of home fires and injuries is cooking fires.
  • According to the U.S. Fire Administration (USFA), approximately 2,000 Thanksgiving Day fires occur in U.S. residences each year, resulting in an average of five deaths, 25 injuries and $21 million in property loss.
  • Thanksgiving Day fires often occur between noon and 4:00 p.m.

The Department of Fire and Rescue also warns that owners of the increasingly popular turkey fryers should take great care when using them. The cautionary warning relates to both the amount of oil and the extremely high temperatures associated with the fryers in cooking a turkey and the potential for hot oil to splash onto an open flame and ignite a fire. According to the department, even the vapors from the oil from one of these turkey fryers is combustible if the oil is hotter than 375 degrees. And The Department of Fire and Rescue points to this video put together by Underwriters Laboratories (available on YouTube), which clearly illustrates those and some of the other dangers associated with the turkey fryers and shows how quickly and easily things can get out of control:

A few more tips the department highlights related to these fryers:

  • They pose a burn hazard to children and others; oil in the vessel can remain dangerously hot for hours
  • DO NOT use in, on or under a garage, deck, breezeway, porch, barn or any structure that can catch fire.
  • Frozen or partially frozen turkeys, when cooked, will cause the hot oil to splatter or produce hot steam leading to burns.
  • For all the department’s recommendations, you can read their full press release here: Take Precautions during Holiday Cooking.


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