Fire officials warn of Thanksgiving cooking mishaps

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PENSACOLA, Fla. (WKRG) — As Thanksgiving nears, local fire officials are warning of the dangers of cooking if not done properly.

“Thanksgiving is the busiest day for fire departments across the country,” said Ray Melton, Escambia County Fire and Life Safety Specialist.

During the holidays, Escambia County Fire Rescue (ECFR) responds to dozens of calls about kitchen fires to turkey fry failures, Melton said Wednesday.

“Each year, we get so many of these disasters happen, and the reason we don’t hear about them so often is people are not going to admit they burned their turkey up,” Melton said. “The ones we do hear about are the ones where people suffer serious burns.”

Melton offered up turkey frying and other cooking tips to avoid spoiling Thanksgiving dinner with a visit from your local fire department.

“With the turkey, we want to make sure we thaw it completely and make sure that it’s dry,” he said. “Grease fires — we know if we put water on it, it’s only going to spread it.”

Other tips include:

  • Use a turkey fryer with thermostat controls. This will ensure the oil does not over heat.
  • Thaw your turkey completely. Ice on the bird will cause the oil to splatter.
  • Don’t overfill the pot with oil. If you do, the oil will overflow when you add the turkey, causing a fire hazard.
  • Keep children and pets at least three feet away from the fryer.
  • Always use the fryer outdoors.
  • Stand by your stove when you are frying, boiling or broiling. If you are in the kitchen, it is easier to catch spills or hazardous conditions before they become a fire.
  • Keep the area around the stove clear of packaging, paper towels, and dish cloths – anything that can burn.
  • Be sure to clean up any spills as they happen.
  • Be prepared. Keep a large pan lid or baking sheet handy in case you need to smother a pan fire.
  • Turn pot handles toward the back of the stove so you don’t bump them.

Melton hopes for a slow Thanksgiving, but fire rescue is ready to respond.

“They know that Thanksgiving is coming up, “ he said. “They know that more than likely they’re going to be very busy.”

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