Firefighters offer tips for a safe Thanksgiving in the kitchen

MISSOULA - Over three times as many home cooking fires happen on Thanksgiving than any other day of the year.

According to the National Fire Protection Association, the leading cause was unattended cooking. The biggest mistake people made was starting something on the stove or in the oven and forgetting about it until it was too late.

Another big factor are unexpected grease fires from turkey fryers. Remember if you are going to deep fry your turkey, make sure it's outside and away from your house. 

Firefighters say in any emergency it's important to call 9-1-1 first but also knowing what to do in a fire emergency can make all the difference.

"Making sure you don't add water to it, the oil and water can potentially create more of a problem, so simply turn off that burner and have a fire extinguisher nearby in case it gets out of hand," said Mel Holtz, Frenchtown Fire.

The NFPA has many recommendations to help ensure cooking safety this Thanksgiving.

- Never leave the kitchen while cooking on the stovetop. Some types of cooking, especially those that involve frying or sautéing with oil, need continuous attention.

- When cooking a turkey, stay in your home and check on it regularly.

- Make use of timers to keep track of cooking times, particularly for foods that require longer cook times.

- Keep things that can catch fire like oven mitts, wooden utensils, food wrappers, and towels at least three feet away from the cooking area.

- Avoid long sleeves and hanging fabrics that could come in contact with a heat source.

- Always cook with a lid beside your pan. If you have a fire, slide the lid over the pan and turn off the burner. Do not remove the cover because the fire could start again. Let the pan cool for a long time. Never throw water or use a fire extinguisher on the fire.

- For an oven fire, turn off the heat and keep the door closed. Only open the door once you’re confident the fire is completely out, standing to the side as you do. If you have any doubts or concerns, contact the fire department for assistance.

- Keep children at least three feet away from the stove. Kids should also stay away from hot foods and liquids, as steam or splash from these items could cause severe burns.

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