State Fire Marshal Offers Thanksgiving Safety Tips

Below is a press release from the Massachusetts Department of Fire Services:

STOW, MA —  “There are more house fires on Thanksgiving Day than any other day of the year and the majority are cooking fires,” said State Fire Marshal Peter J. Ostroskey. “Practice fire safety this holiday to prevent any unexpected guests (like firefighters) from ruining your festivities,” he added.

“As you prepare to celebrate this holiday, make safety a priority. Start by making sure you have working smoke and carbon monoxide (CO) alarms,” added Ostroskey.

Cooking Safety Tips

Cooking activities have been the cause of 86% of the 704 Thanksgiving Day fires in Massachusetts over the last five years. State Fire Marshal Ostroskey offered cooking safety tips that everyone can follow to prevent fires:

  • Check to make sure your oven is empty before turning it on.
  • Wear short or tight-fitting sleeves when cooking.
  • Turn pot handles inward over the stove.
  • Remember to “stand by your pan” and stay in the kitchen when boiling, frying or broiling.
  • Use a timer when baking or roasting and never leave the house with the oven running.
  • The best way to respond to a stovetop fire is to “put a lid on it” and turn off the heat.
  • The best way to respond to an oven or broiler fire is to keep the oven doors closed and turn off the heat.
  • If the fire is not quickly snuffed out, leave the house and call 9-1-1 from outside.

Thanksgiving 2019

Last Thanksgiving, firefighters across the Commonwealth were busy responding to the 123 fires that caused several injuries and over $1.4 million in damages.

  • On November 28, 2019, at 1:19 p.m., the Boston Fire Department responded to a gas stove cooking fire in a 4-unit apartment building. Alarms operated and alerted the occupants. No one was injured. Damages were estimated to be $2,000.
  • On November 28, 2019, at 4:41 p.m., the Boston Fire Department responded to a stovetop cooking fire in an apartment building. Alarms operated and alerted the occupants. No one was injured at this fire. Damages were estimated to be $2,000.
  • On November 28, 2019, at 11:33 a.m., the Worcester Fire Department responded to a cooking fire in a single-family home. One person trying to extinguish the fire, and one firefighter were injured at this fire. Alarms operated and alerted the occupants. Damages were estimated to be $1,500.

Turkey Fryers

The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) discourages the use of outdoor gas-fueled turkey fryers that immerse the turkey in hot oil. There are no outdoor turkey fryers that have a listing from an independent testing laboratory such as UL or ETL. The NFPA states that home use of “turkey fryers that use cooking oil, as currently designed, are not suitable for safe use by even a well-informed and careful consumer.” This risk of an oil spill or the ignition of spilled oil is quite high. They recommend using new “oil-less” turkey fryers.

Gas Ovens: A Source of CO

Generally, the confined space of a closed gas oven used for cooking does not produce enough carbon monoxide (CO) to present any dangers, unless it is used for several hours consecutively like when roasting a turkey. If you have a kitchen exhaust fan, use it; if not, crack a window for fresh air when using the gas oven for a prolonged period.

Home Heating: #2 Cause of Fires on Thanksgiving

Heating is the second leading cause of fires on Thanksgiving. Give your furnace an annual check-up and have chimneys cleaned and inspected by a professional at the beginning of heating season.

  • On November 28, 2019, at 11:47 a.m., the Dartmouth District 3 Fire Department was called to a fire in a single-family home. The fire originated in one of the radiant heating panels under the floor. Alarms were present and operated; there were no injuries. The home had no sprinklers and damages were estimated to be $7,000.

For more information, contact your local fire department or the Department of Fire Services’ Thanksgiving web page.

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