November 16, 2021 | Barb Carr

Thanksgiving Day Fires

Thanksgiving Day Fires should not become your reality. With Thanksgiving around the corner, it’s not a bad idea to start thinking about your holiday safety. Thanksgiving is the most common day for home cooking fires. Christmas is a close runner-up.

Past NFPA reports say that on Thanksgiving Day there were more than 3x the normal amount of cooking fires on this holiday. There is nothing normal about a house fire. At least there shouldn’t be. Leaving an open flame or your cooking unattended is the leading cause of fires.

It’s easy to leave your cooking unattended. You have not seen Grandma all year (or maybe for longer considering our past two years). Dad is outside hiding from his in-laws. Children are running around and playing. Attention spans are weakened and let’s be honest, safety is not top of mind.

What makes Thanksgiving Day Fires so common?

How can we prevent these types of fires from occurring?

Cooking the Turkey

The centerpiece of most Thanksgivings tablescapes. I love a good Thanksgiving turkey and I think of all things turkey prior to our feast. How can you make it more moist? Let’s cook it in a way that won’t dry it out. I didn’t used to think, how can I make sure the turkey is cooked as safely as possible? But, now I do and so should you. Much more can go wrong than the typical person could imagine.

If you are a TapRooT® trained person, we are not typical, therefore should not be a statistic for the NFPA to report (this is meant for humor, we still make mistakes. We are human but how can we protect our targets?). If you are not a TapRooT® trained person, I highly recommend you become one. It is a great “club” to be a part of and it will get you thinking differently even when you are cooking a turkey.

This is a SnapCharT® and how a trained TapRooT® user would record the “what happened”.

Cooking a turkey in a fryer.

A much more popular method of cooking a turkey in recent years, also hyper dangerous. The main problem with cooking your turkey in a fryer is that it is quite easy for oil in the fryer to overflow on the the burner creating a grease fire. Oil is an accelerant and can catch fire in no time. Where are my oil and gas folks? Am I right? In fact, the NFPA advises against the use of cooking turkeys outdoor in a gas-fueled fryer.

If you decide to use my favorite method of cooking a turkey, follow some guidelines and put in multiple safeguards to stay safe this upcoming holiday season. (Side Note: If you have not had a fried turkey, they are delicious. Recipe below)

  • BIGGEST TIP: Set up your fryer in an outdoor area away from flammable structures
  • Ensure the size of the turkey is small enough to fit in with the oil in the fryer
  • Measure how much oil by doing a test run with water in your pot. Dip your turkey into the water to make sure the water does not over flow. This will prevent an unnecessary oil spill
  • Turkey needs to be fully thawed
  • Lower the turkey slowly into the oil to avoid splashing
  • Have a fire extinguisher easily accessible in the unfortunate case of grease fire
  • If a grease fire does occur, turn off the propane tank immediately if you are able to do so safely

Baking a turkey tips

  • Oven baking is not a 100% guarantee your turkey won’t ignite
  • If oven fire occurs, try to cut off oxygen to the flames with a lid while still in the oven
  • Do not take it out of the oven
  • Kitchen extinguisher available for use is always a good idea if flames are too large to manage

Children in the kitchen

  • Keep the kids from running around the kitchen
  • Keep kids 3 feet away from the stove, hot liquids, and store flame creating materials out of their reach
  • Be aware of dangling electrical cords
  • Best safeguard is to keep them out of the kitchen on busy holidays
  • Never leave your kids unattended when food is being cooked/ prepared

Damaged/ Faulty Equipment

  • 2nd leading cause of home fire deaths according to the NFPA
  • Check all smoke detectors are working properly
  • Check to make sure all cooking equipment you plan to use is in good working order

Messy Kitchens

  • Kitchens are a main gathering area on holidays
  • Kitchens can be dangerous
  • Unclutter your kitchen
  • Focus on one task at a time
  • Distractions are plentiful
  • Set up appetizers and drinks in a different room
  • Set up a table for potluck dishes that is outside of the kitchen
  • If a crock pot is being used, set up a separate area to avoid cords and hazards

To wrap this up…


Inspired by Tony’s Deep Fried Turkey Recipe (I make my own but you can purchase Tony’s Here)

  • 3-5 gallons peanut or vegetable oil (read instructions on your frying pot/ set up)
  • 1 Turkey (no larger than 12 lbs or according to your set up)
  • 2 sticks melted butter
  • 2-3 tablespoons of your favorite cajun seasoning (blend onion powder, garlic powder, dried oregano, dried basil, dried thyme, black pepper, white pepper, salt, pepper, cayenne for more heat)
  1. Prepare turkey fryer, or very large stock pot.
  2. Fill fryer with no more than 3/4 oil and heat to 350°F.
  3. Make sure turkey is completely thawed.
  4. Pat turkey dry with paper towels – turkey must be dry before frying.
  5. Remove giblets from turkey.
  6. Inject the turkey with Creole Butter with turkey injector. Use as much as you’d like.
  7. Be sure to space out the injection sites so the marinade goes throughout the entire turkey.
  8. Lightly season the inside of the turkey a mixture of salt, pepper, paprika, and garlic powder.
  9. Enjoy!!

Seasoning (Dry)

  1. Next, gently lift the skin of the bird up and use your hands to carefully massage more creole seasoning under the skin.
  2. Coat the outside skin of the turkey too.
  3. Allow the turkey to sit until it reaches room temperature.
  4. Carefully lower the turkey into the oil and allow it to fry for 3 minutes per pound, plus 5 minutes per bird, until the meat thermometer reads 165°F when inserted into the thickest part of the breast.
  5. Carefully remove the turkey from the fryer and drain it on paper towels.
  6. Allow bird to sit for 10 minutes before slicing and serving.

Enjoy your holiday season safely!

Accident, Human Performance, Root Cause Analysis, Safety
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