STOW, Mass. (WBZ NewsRadio) – As families prepare for the Thanksgiving holiday, State Fire Marshal Peter J. Ostroskey offered a safety message to residents of the Commonwealth.
Thanksgiving is the top day in the country for residential fires, says the Department of Fire Services. In fact, there were 711 Thanksgiving Day fires from 2016 to 2020, 86% of which started with cooking activities. The department said Massachusetts firefighters responded to 145 fires across the state last Thanksgiving.
“Over the past five years, there have been more than twice as many fires on Thanksgiving as on the next-closest day,” Ostroskey said. “Thanksgiving is a time for coming together with family, but it’s also a time for fire safety.”
Ostroskey said families can start ensuring their safety by making sure their smoke and carbon monoxide (CO) alarms are working properly. Ostroskey also offered the following cooking safety tips for people:
- Check to make sure your oven is empty before turning it on.
- Wear short or tight-fitting sleeves when cooking.
- Turn pot handles inward over the stove.
- Remember to “stand by your pan” and stay in the kitchen when boiling, frying or broiling.
- Use a timer when baking or roasting and never leave the house with the oven running.
- The best way to respond to a stovetop fire is to “put a lid on it” and turn off the heat.
- The best way to respond to an oven or broiler fire is to keep the oven doors closed and turn off the heat.
- If the fire is not quickly snuffed out, leave the house and call 9-1-1 from outside.
While it is a common practice, The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) strongly discourages the use of outdoor gas-fueled turkey fryers that immerse the turkey in hot oil.
“Turkey fryers that use cooking oil, as currently designed, are not suitable for safe use by even a well-informed and careful consumer,” the NFPA says. Instead, they recommend using oil-less fryers to reduce the risk of an oil spill or igniting spilled oil.
The department also says gas ovens are a source of CO and while they do not present any immediate threat, they can if left on for several hours. The department says it is important to have proper ventilation in the kitchen to help avoid a potential CO leak.
House heating is the second cause of Thanksgiving fires. The department recommends checking furnaces annually, cleaning chimneys and placing space heaters on flat, leveler surfaces to keep them from being knocked over.
People can get more information by contacting their local fire department or the department's Thanksgiving web page.