For the City Times
WISCONSIN RAPIDS – Sparked by the increasing popularity of deep frying turkeys at home during the holiday season, Mid-State Technical College is spreading the word about ways to safely enjoy that deep fried or barbecued bird this holiday season.
Brandon Hageman, Mid-State Fire Protection Technician instructor, has extensive experience in fire prevention and life safety education as well as fighting fires.
“In 2015, U.S. fire departments responded to an estimated 1,760 home cooking fires on Thanksgiving, the peak day for such fires,” he said. “Keeping fire safety in mind during this often stressful time is important, especially when the home is filled with extra activity and people.”
Hageman advised that anyone using an outdoor cooking device, such as deep fryers or grills, clear the surrounding 10 feet from any other objects that could potentially catch fire.
“That includes houses, sheds, garages, decks, and trees,” he explained, adding that another critical precaution for deep frying is to ensure that the turkey is fully thawed and dry prior to putting it into the hot oil. “Water and oil do not mix and will react violently when the oil is hot enough to instantly boil the water.”
There are a few other main causes of holiday cooking injuries, according to Hageman.
“By far the leading contributing factor in cooking fires and fire deaths is unattended cooking,” he said. “We recommend designating a responsible person to stay in the kitchen or near the grill or deep fryer for the whole cooking time to keep an eye on the food and keep kids away from hot food and sharp knives.”
Hageman noted that issues with equipment are also critical, having been implicated in half of all reported home fires and home fire injuries and the second leading cause of home fire deaths. “Be sure electric cords from an electric knife, coffee maker, plate warmer or mixer are not dangling off the counter within easy reach of a child, and make sure that all cooking devices are in good working order prior to using them,” he said.
“Fire suppression is just one aspect of being a firefighter—fire prevention and life safety education play a large part too,” said Hageman. “The holidays tend to be a very chaotic, festive time, and we want to raise awareness of these tips to ensure everyone’s celebration is as safe as it is fun.”