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Fire safety stressed during Thanksgiving holiday

© iStock - Glenn_Hewitt
Donna Rolando

(The Center Square) – Thanksgiving Day has a destructive side that many don’t consider until it’s too late: a history of cooking fires. In fact, the National Fire Protection Association says the holiday takes the lead.

Data released this week by State Farm shows Illinois ranks fourth for cooking-fire claim awards, which amounted to almost $12 million for 169 incidents last year.

With the staggering cost of these claims nationwide at $196 million for State Farm in 2022, the company is taking the occasion for some safety tips in these fire-prone months of November and December.

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© flickrcc - World's Direction

Spokeswoman Heather Paul especially urged caution when frying the bird.

“Improper turkey frying is another major reason you see that increase in November,” she said. “Unfortunately, dropping that cold or frozen turkey into a big vat of grease and you’re going to have potential injuries and flare-ups.”

She suggests thawing the turkey before slowly lowering it into the grease and doing the process outdoors, maybe in the driveway. If a fire starts, she recommends using a fire extinguisher or baking soda.

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© iStock - welcomia

“Don’t try to put out a grease fire with water,” she said.

Other pointers are to keep the home cooking area clean of anything that can catch fire, such as food packages, oven mitts, towels and curtains, and not to cook while impaired by sleepiness or alcohol.

While November and December also stand out for such fires, Paul said, “Thanksgiving is usually the top day.”

“That’s obviously because you got a lot of people that are cooking for family and friends and there are a lot of distractions going on,” including kids and pets running underfoot, she said.

Although cooking fires dropped slightly in 2022, from 2,240 to 2,210, the cost of these claims nationwide is on the rise partly due to the expense of construction materials. The average claim in 2022 was $71,000, according to State Farm.