Are you using that big turkey fryer for the first time this Thanksgiving? Make sure you use it outside away from flammable material, especially if it's the propane-fueled variety. And have you ever had a chimney sweep check out your fireplace? Better do it before starting another fire.
With the holiday season comes more cooking and increased fires in the hearth, so the Milton Fire Department offers these reminders to be safe by taking a few precautions.
More cooking fires occur on Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve and Christmas Day than at any other time of the year, according to the U.S. Fire Administration. Unattended cooking equipment is the leading cause of these fires, reports the National Fire Protection Association, followed closely by flammable items placed near an open flame.
Special precautions should also be taken for large turkey fryers, which must always be used outside away from any flammable material. Increasing numbers of household fires result from this new style of holiday cooking. (There are indoor turkey fryers, but additional care needs to be taken with these as well.)
"In the hustle and bustle of family gatherings, please do not leave food unattended on the stove or in the oven," said Milton's Fire Marshal Matt Marietta. "And in case of an accident, always keep an appropriate kitchen fire extinguisher handy."
Turkey fryer hazards
Underwriter Laboratories won't even certify any turkey fryers, and points out these hazards. Watch the video accompanying this story to see how bad it can get.
- Many units easily tip over, spilling the hot oil from the cooking pot.
- If the cooking pot is overfilled with oil, the oil may spill out of the unit when the turkey is placed into the cooking pot. Oil may hit the burner or flames, causing a fire to engulf the entire unit.
- Partially frozen turkeys placed into the fryer can cause a spillover effect. This too may result in an extensive fire.
- With no thermostat controls, the units also have the potential to overheat the oil to the point of combustion.
- The lid and handles on the sides of the cooking pot get dangerously hot, posing severe burn hazards.
As the temperature drops and Milton residents start cozying up to a roaring fire, please remember to remove all combustibles from the fireplace hearth.
Additionally, if you haven't done so recently, have a professional chimney sweep inspect and clean the fireplace flue. According to Marietta, the city has had several house fires in the past few years due to improper maintenance of fireplaces.
"A lot of people don't realize the importance of keeping a fireplace clean and in good working order," said the fire marshal. "In some cases where maintenance is not current, fires can start in the chimney and spread to the house before a homeowner is even aware there is a problem."
For further information on cooking fires and holiday safety, please refer to the U.S. Fire Administration's Web site.