The state of Tennessee is reminding Tennesseans to practice safe cooking habits for the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday. 

According to the State Fire Marshal’s Office, 27 percent of the state’s reported home structure fires in 2020 involved cooking equipment, with 13 of those 1,624 fires resulting in deaths as well as injuries to 58 civilians and 10 firefighters and costing more than $7 million in direct property damage. 

“The holidays are a special time of the year, full of togetherness and traditions,” TDCI Assistant Commissioner for Fire Prevention Gary Farley said in a news release. “When celebrating Thanksgiving this year, I urge all Tennesseans to be mindful of fire safety in the kitchen in order to avoid accidentally starting a home fire.”

The TN SFMO is asking Tennesseans to remember the following tips to stay safe during the holiday:

  • Avoid distractions. Stay in the kitchen when you are frying, grilling or broiling. If you have to leave the room, even for a moment, turn off the stove’s burners.

  • Never consume alcohol while cooking. 

  • Use a kitchen timer when boiling, simmering, baking or roasting to remind yourself to check what you are cooking.

  • Use caution with turkey fryers. The SFMO recommends that consumers always utilize oil-free models.

  • Turkey fryers should always be used outdoors and kept a safe distance from homes, buildings and other flammable materials.

  • Never use turkey fryers indoors or on a wooden deck.

  • Make sure the fryer is used on a flat surface to prevent accidental tipping.

  • Never leave a turkey fryer unattended. Most fryer units do not have thermostat controls. If you do not watch the fryer carefully, the oil will continue to heat and could boil over, resulting in a fire.

  • Never let children or pets near the fryer, even if it is not in use. The oil inside the cooking pot can remain dangerously hot for hours after use.

  • To prevent spillover, do not overfill the fryer.

  • Use well-insulated potholders or oven mitts when touching pot or lid handles. If possible, wear safety goggles to protect your eyes from oil splatter.

  • Make sure the turkey is thawed and dry before cooking. Ice or water that mixes into the hot oil can cause flare-ups. 

  • Keep an all-purpose fire extinguisher nearby. Never use water to extinguish a grease or oil fire. Instead, put a lid over the flame, exit the home and call your local fire department by dialing 911.

  • Make sure your home’s smoke alarms are working. Need working smoke alarms? Contact your local fire department and ask if they participate in the “Get Alarmed, Tennessee!” program. 

For more information on making your home fire-safe, download and print the SFMO home fire safety checklist.