​​Give thanks for fire prevention this holiday season

​Nov. 17, 2022

This Thanksgiving, join our State Fire Marshal Division in giving thanks that kitchen fires are preventable.

The holiday season is historically a dangerous time in Minnesota when it comes to fires and fire deaths. Last year, Minnesota reported 335 fires causing more than $5.3 million in damages over the week of Thanksgiving.

Flames shoot into the air above a turkey fryer during a fire safety demonstrationWhy do we see a spike in fires over the holidays? We're being pulled in so many different directions. You need to watch the kids, cook the turkey and sides, chat with your family members and maybe even catch a few minutes of the football game.

With all of that going on, fire prevention and safety can take a back seat; however, not putting safety first could have tragic consequences for you, your family or your holiday guests.

Minnesota had 16 fire deaths in November and December of last year; 12 of those occurred between Thanksgiving and New Year's Eve.

The leading contributing factor by far in fires and fire deaths is unattended cooking. Cooking fires caused an average of $4.5 million in damage each of the last five years in Minnesota.

Never leave food cooking unattended. If you're deep-frying your turkey, use extreme caution. Check out this video of what happens when it goes wrong.

A kitchen fire can happen in an instant. You pop out of the kitchen to welcome your guests, get to talking, then suddenly you smell smoke and your alarm is blaring.

Then what do you do?

Human instinct tells you to douse the flames with water or remove the pan from the stove and put it in the sink or outside, but those can be dangerous with kitchen fires. Putting water on a grease fire has devastating consequences.

The best way to extinguish a stove fire is to put on an oven mitt, slide a lid or cookie sheet over the flames, and turn off the stove. Leave the pan sit. Don't try to remove the lid because the fire could start again. Never try to remove the pan from the stove.

Of course, the best way to stay safe is to prevent a fire in the first place. There are three simple ways to do that:

  • Stay in the kitchen while you're cooking.
  • Put away the distractions and pay attention to what you're cooking.
  • Keep anything flammable – oven mitts, towels and wooden spoons included – at least three feet from the stove.

Don't forget: Smoke and carbon monoxide alarms save lives, but only if they work. Test your alarms before you host your holiday gathering.