Fire prevention experts advise extra caution on Thanksgiving

(Stock photo, generative AI)

TEXARKANA -- Thanksgiving is the peak day for cooking fires in the U.S., and safety experts urge everyone to take precautions to prevent the holiday from becoming tragic.

Cooking mishaps are always a leading cause of home fires, but there is a sharp rise in the number of cooking fires on Thanksgiving, followed by Christmas, Christmas Eve and the day before Thanksgiving, according to the National Fire Protection Association.

On Thanksgiving alone, an estimated 1,160 home cooking fires were reported to U.S fire departments in 2021, reflecting a 297% increase over the daily average.

Cooking causes half (53%) of all reported home fires and nearly two of every five (38%) home fire injuries, and it is a leading cause of home fire deaths (18%).

Based on 2017-2021 annual averages compiled by NFPA, two-thirds of home cooking fires start with the ignition of food or other cooking materials.

Clothing is the item first ignited in less than 1% of home cooking fires, but clothing ignitions caused 8% of the home cooking fire deaths.

Ranges or cooktops account for over half (53%) of home cooking fire incidents. Unattended equipment is a factor in over one quarter (29%) of reported home cooking fires and half of the associated deaths.

Another safety emphasis is keeping children away from stoves and other kitchen dangers. NFPA recommends planning activities that keep children out of the kitchen altogether, including recipes they can participate in elsewhere.

The NFPA's Top 10 Thanksgiving safety tips:

-- Stay in the kitchen when you are cooking on the stove top so you can keep an eye on the food.

-- Stay in the home when cooking your turkey, and check on it frequently.

-- Keep children away from the stove. The stove will be hot and children should stay at least three feet away.

-- Make sure children stay away from hot food and liquids. The steam or splash from vegetables, gravy or coffee could cause serious burns.

-- Keep knives out of the reach of children.

-- Be sure electric cords from an electric knife, coffee maker, plate warmer or mixer are not dangling off the counter within easy reach of a child.

-- Keep matches and utility lighters out of the reach of children -- up high in a locked cabinet.

-- Never leave children alone in room with a lit candle. Keep candles at least one foot from anything that can burn. Blow out candles when you leave the room or go to sleep.

-- Keep the floor clear so you don't trip over children, toys, pocketbooks or bags.

Everyday fire safety advice from the NFPA:

-- Keep fixed and portable space heaters at least three feet from anything that can burn. Turn off heaters when you leave the room or go to sleep.

-- Ask smokers to smoke outside. Have sturdy, deep ashtrays for smokers.

-- Replace electrical cords that are cracked, damaged, have broken plugs or have loose connections.

-- Make a home fire escape plan and practice it at least twice a year.

-- Install smoke alarms on every level of your home, inside bedrooms and outside sleeping areas. Interconnect smoke alarms throughout the home. When one sounds, they all sound.

-- Test smoke alarms at least once a month and replace batteries once a year or when the alarm "chirps" to tell you the battery is low. Replace any smoke alarm that is more than 10 years old.

The NFPA is a global, self-funded nonprofit organization established in 1896, devoted to eliminating death, injury, property and economic loss due to fire, electrical and related hazards, according to its website, nfpa.org.