Fire department sends tips on minimizing cooking fires on Thanksgiving

By The Daily Illini staff report

As people all over the country are getting ready for their Thanksgiving dinners, the Champaign Fire Department has released a list of safety procedures families and cooks to follow in order to have a safe and fire-free holiday.

Some of safety tips the fire department included are: “Stay in the home when cooking your turkey and check on it frequently” and also “consider using flameless candles as a safe alternative to candles.”

Thanksgiving tends to be the peak day for home cooking fires, according to a press release from the Champaign Fire Department. Christmas Day and Christmas Eve are the next busiest days for firefighters.  

“It’s actually nearly four times as many home cooking fires that occur on Thanksgiving than any other day. So nationwide we do see an uptick as far as cooking fires,” said Randy Smith, deputy fire marshal for the Champaign Fire Department.

However, Smith said he has not seen an increase of emergency calls over the holidays locally in the Champaign area.

The number one reason for these fires is unattended cooking, Smith said.

“People just leave the kitchen instead of staying while preparing lunch and dinner,” he said.

When people cook, they are generally used to doing so for just their immediate family, Smith said. There are large amounts of people in one home and there is more cooking coming from people who may not be as prepared to do so.

“It’s important to raise awareness and make people think before they go into the kitchen to get into that mindset of preparing for the extra people in the home,” he said.

Some other tips the press release included are to maintain a “‘Kid Free Zone’ around the stove” and making sure to keep the floor clean to minimize any tripping that may occur.

Smith said to also check the smoke alarms before family comes over.

“This is a perfect time to check the smoke alarms in the home,” he said. “Just take those few extra seconds, push the test button on the smoke alarm. Make sure it’s working for family and friends who are with us on Thanksgiving.”

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