Thanksgiving – A Top Day for Home Cooking Fires Cook with Caution to Avoid Having the Fire Department as Uninvited Guests

Contact: Mario L. Morrow 517-373-9280
Agency: Licensing and Regulatory Affairs

November 23, 2009 - As Michigan residents prepare Thanksgiving Day meals, State Fire Marshal Ronald R. Farr today urges families to be fire safe in the kitchen to prevent home fires and other dangerous mishaps such as burns and scalds. Thanksgiving Day is the leading day for home cooking fires according to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA). U.S. firefighters responded to roughly 1,300 home fires involving cooking equipment on Thanksgiving in 2007, roughly three times the daily average of cooking fires, according to NFPA.

"Nearly 50 percent of house fires start in the kitchen, so never leave your cooking unattended, even for a moment," Farr said. "Cooking fires can easily be prevented by following a few simple precautions to avoid having your feast going up in flames."

Thanksgiving can be a hazardous day especially with kitchens filled with inexperienced or busy cooks. It's easy for those cooking the holiday meal to become distracted and lose track of what's going on in the kitchen when entertaining family and friends.

The Michigan Bureau of Fire Services offers these tips for safer cooking: 
  • Start the holiday cooking with a clean stove and oven. Clean up food and remove grease buildup from burners, stovetop, and oven. 
  • Be on alert! If you are sleepy or have consumed alcohol, don't use the stove or stovetop. 
  • Use the back burners whenever possible, especially if you have young children. Turn pot handles inward to reduce the risk that pots with hot contents will be knocked over. 
  • Stand by your pan - never leave cooking unattended. Stay in the kitchen when you are frying, grilling, or broiling food. 
  • Check food regularly while it's simmering, baking, boiling or roasting. 
  • Set timers to keep track of turkeys and other food items that require extended cooking times. 
  • Turn off the stove if you must leave the kitchen for even a short period of time. 
  • Keep kids away from cooking areas by enforcing a "kid-free zone" of at least three feet around the stove. 
  • Don't hold children while cooking. Fussy children can get too close to hot pans and plates. 
  • Keep kitchen clutter, potholders, towels, food wrappers, curtains, and Thanksgiving decorations at least three feet away from heat sources such as stovetops, candles and other open flames. 
  • Don't wear clothing with loose-fitting sleeves or dangling jewelry when cooking. Sleeves and women's frilly holiday blouses can catch on fire over a stove and jewelry can snag on pot handles causing spills in addition to severe scalds and burns. 
  •  Keep a flame-resistant oven mitt, pot holder or lid nearby to smother any flames. 
  • For an oven fire, turn off the heat and keep the door closed. 
  • Have a fire extinguisher available not more than 10 feet from the stove, on the exit side of the cooking area. Know how to use your fire extinguisher. A 2 -1/2 lb class ABC multi-purpose dry chemical extinguisher is recommended. 
  •  Have working smoke alarms in the home and have an escape plan that the entire family knows if there is a fire.
  • Walk through your home to make sure that any candles and smoking materials are extinguished once guests leave. 
  • In the event of a fire or medical emergency, always call 9-1-1.


The Bureau of Fire Services wishes everyone a happy and safe Thanksgiving holiday. Visit the Bureau of Fire Services website at www.michigan.gov/bfsfor more fire safety information.

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