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Cooking safety tips you absolutely, positively must do before you start your turkey prep

vipHomeLink-Thanksgiving-Dinner Photo by Jason Briscoe on Unsplash

More home cooking fires occur on Thanksgiving than any other day of the year, and most can be prevented by following these simple safety tips. 

It's not surprising that most home cooking fires occur on Thanksgiving, followed closely by Christmas Day, Christmas Eve, and the day before Thanksgiving. In fact, the National Fire Prevention Association found that fire departments responded to an estimated 1,570 home cooking fires in 2016 alone.

With so many families celebrating together during the holiday season, we've compiled a few tips to help keep you and your family — and your extended family and perhaps a few next-door neighbors — safe this holiday season. 

Be alert or don't exert 

​Perhaps this seems like a no-brainer, but it needs to be said. Tired chefs find their abilities impaired, reflexes slower, and mood short. While no one likes a hangry chef, a tired chef shouldn't be in the kitchen. You might forget to set an oven timer, leading to potential fires, or even place your hand somewhere it shouldn't be. When in doubt, leave the cooking to someone else.

Pay attention for ultimate prevention  

By Jeff Roos

​Unattended cooking is the number one cause of cooking fires and fire deaths, but you can lower the risk drastically by remaining in the cooking area and at home when preparing food. By following this rule, you can see the signs of danger, such as smoking grease or a boiling pot, and take control before disaster strikes.

Three feet from the heat

​Create a safe space for cooking, meaning the little ones — kids and pets — should stay three feet away from the preparation zone. Limitless hazards await them in this area — knives, matches, even steam or hot splashes — so best to clear the area to avoid any injuries. Also, remove any obstacles, such as toys, bags, and messes, so you don't trip while rushing about the kitchen.

A pan (or lid) in hand  

Photo by Jason Briscoe on Unsplash

​When working with so many pots, pans, and burners, small fires can start at a moment's notice. If a small fire starts in a pan, simply turn off the burner and cover it with either a lid or baking sheet. Then wait for the pan to cool completely and clean up. Also, you might want to call a family member to bring over an extra side.

Distinguish between extinguish(ers)  

Not every fire extinguisher works on every type of fire, but we recommend homeowners have a fire extinguisher that is classified for A-B-C fires, which works on trash-wood-paper, "B" liquids (oil, gasoline, kerosene, or paint), and electrical equipment. These can be used to deal with those dangerous turkey fryer fires. Never use water to deal with a grease or oil fire.

Also, remember PASS when using a fire extinguisher.

P — Pull pin.

A — Aim at the base of the fire.

S — Squeeze the lever.

S — Sweep from side to side.

Many homeowners are injured each year fighting a fire in their home, so if the fire is too severe, get out quickly, call 911, and let the professionals handle it.

No joke — mind your smoke detectors  

​Whether your home has wired smoke detectors or is still rocking the battery-powered ones, double-check to make sure they're working properly before starting meal preparation. With family over and most likely occupied — cooking or otherwise — you'll want everyone to be alerted if a fire starts. Properly functioning smoke detectors have been proven to save lives, and learn more about maintaining your home with our vipTIPS.

Watch for fires from turkey fryers 

​Seriously, you need to be careful.


Turkey fryers deserve their own section. In fact, according to the New York Fire Department, deep fryer fires cause an average of five deaths, 60 injuries, and more than $15 million in property damage every year. There's a laundry list of precautions to take, starting with not overfilling fryers, making sure the turkey is completely thawed, and using safety goggles and oven mitts. Read all the manufacturer's directions before ever using a turkey fryer and always, always use with caution.

Don't let your holiday - or home - go up in smoke. Following the above safety tips can help you avoid a potentially deadly situation. Stay safe this holiday season with the help of vipHomeLink. Not a member? Subscribe today with a no-risk, 90-day trial on us. 

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