The Tennessee Department of Commerce & Insurance and the Tennessee State Fire Marshal’s Office reminds Tennesseans that the recipe for a safe Thanksgiving celebration includes fire-safe cooking habits.

Cooking equipment is a major contributor to home fires. In Tennessee, 27 percent of reported home structure fires in 2020 involved cooking equipment, an SFMO news release said.

The 1,624 cooking equipment-related fires in 2020 resulted in 13 civilian fatalities, 58 civilian injuries, 10 firefighter injuries and more than $7 million in direct property damage, according to the Tennessee Fire Incident Reporting System.

“The holidays are a special time of the year, full of togetherness and traditions. 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.” TDCI Assistant Commissioner for Fire Prevention Gary Farley said in the release.

To aid Tennesseans who will be cooking this year, the SFMO offers the following Thanksgiving fire safety tips:

  • Avoid distractions. Stay in the kitchen when 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 as a reminder to check what is 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 the fryer is not carefully watched, 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 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 the local fire department by dialing 911.
  • Make sure all home smoke alarms are working. To get a working smoke alarm, contact the local fire department and ask if they participate in SFMO’s “Get Alarmed, Tennessee!” program.

For more information on making a home fire-safe, download and print the SFMO home fire safety checklist at: https://www.tn.gov/content/dam/tn/commerce/documents/fire_prevention/posts/Fire_Safety_List.pdf.