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Make the holidays delicious … and safe

Nov. 25, 2019

Flames shoot out of a kitchen fire safety trailer during a demonstration


There’s nothing like gathering with friends and family over a delicious holiday meal, warm and cozy in your home, festive candles ablaze. But it just so happens that cooking, heating and open flames – those staples of holiday atmosphere – are also the three leading causes of house fires in Minnesota. In fact, the time from Thanksgiving to New Year’s is often the busiest time for fires; last year, 11 people died in fires in November, December and January alone.

The real tragedy of such fires is that they’re preventable. All it takes is a little planning and caution. For example, deep fried turkey is a favorite at Thanksgiving, but one wrong move with a turkey fryer could spell disaster. If you’re deep-frying your Turkey Day bird, follow these steps:

  • Make sure the fryer is stable. If your fryer tips over or oil spills out, it will cause an instant fire.

  • Do not overfill the fryer with oil. Even a small amount of spilled oil can cause a large fire.

  • Use temperature controls so the oil doesn’t overheat and catch fire.

  • Do not put a frozen or wet turkey into hot oil.

  • Use the fryer outdoors, never in your garage, on your deck or in your kitchen.

  • Never leave the bird unattended.

Unfortunately, turkey fryers are not the only causes of holiday cooking fires. Kitchen fires can start alarmingly quickly. So when you’re making dinner and juggling several pots of deliciousness on the stove or baking the family’s favorite pie, keep these tips in mind:

  • Never leave food cooking on the stove unattended. Stay in the kitchen while you have items on the stove.

  • Keep a timer with you when baking in the oven so you don’t lose track of time; check on items in the oven frequently.

  • Keep combustible items at least 3 feet from the stove – think aprons, dish towels, and cookbooks.

If you do end up with a fire on the stove, resist the urge to move the pan and put it in the sink or throw water, flour, or baking soda on it. Instead, put on an oven mitt, slide a lid or cookie sheet over the flames, and turn off the stove. You’ve starved the fire of the oxygen it needs to keep burning; now, just let the pan sit until it has cooled off.

Whether you’re cooking a feast for a crowd or ordering pizza for your holiday dinner, you need working smoke and CO alarms. Be sure to test them before the holidays swing into high gear, and replace batteries as needed.