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Talking Turkey About Thanksgiving Safety

Though unattended cooking remains the biggest problem, worn appliance cords and overloaded outlets are also fire and shock hazards to avoid.

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Fire takes no holiday.

Thanksgiving is proof positive of that. Nearly four times as many reported home-cooking fires usually happen on Thanksgiving than a typical day, according to the National Fire Protection Association. Unattended stovetop cooking is the biggest problem, leading to one-third of those fires.

Additionally, electric stovetops factor in a disproportionate number of those fires. Though 60 percent of households cook with electricity, the fire association says that 80 percent of the stovetops involved in reported cooking fires are powered by electricity.

“Keeping an eye on your cooking can go a long way toward keeping your Thanksgiving fire-free,” said Paul Jeske, SCE’s director of Corporate Health and Safety. “Never leave your stovetop cooking unattended. If you have to leave the kitchen even briefly, turn off the stove or get someone to watch it.”

But, it doesn’t stop there. There are other electrical hazards, like overloading extension cords or plugging a major appliance like a space heater into an extension cord, to avoid as well.

To prevent fires and other electrical hazards on a day when 88 percent of Americans are expected to eat turkey and there is an average of 10 fatalities, 50 injuries and $28 million in property damage, Southern California Edison offers some Thanksgiving safety tips:

  • Before using them, replace any appliances with frayed or worn cords and ensure that all appliances bear the Underwriters Laboratories (UL) label.
Thanksgiving safety
Thanksgiving safety
  • In the event of a fire, never fight an electrical or grease fire with water. Only use a UL-listed fire extinguisher rated for electrical and grease fires.
  • For a prompt warning of a fire, never disconnect smoke detectors while cooking.

And deep fryers? Not only does the fire association discourage them, UL still refuses to certify turkey fryers.