More cooking fires occur on Thanksgiving than any other day of the year, according to State Farm home insurance claims data, but simple safety precautions can prevent them.
A growing cause for holiday fires in the last decade is the deep-fat turkey-frying trend. U.S. fire departments respond to more than 1,000 deep-fryer fires each year, and the fires cause $15 million a year in property damage, according to the National Fire Protection Association.
State Farm says the top 10 states for grease and cooking-related claims on Thanksgiving for the past five years are:
- New York
- South Carolina
To increase awareness of cooking-fire dangers, State Farm teamed up with William Shatner last year to produce "Eat, Fry, Love: A Cautionary Tale." The 3 1/2-minute YouTube video dramatizes an actual turkey fryer mishap that burned the actor. Following release of the video and safety campaign last fall State Farm's grease and cooking-related fire claims on Thanksgiving dropped by half, and the daily average for the entire month reached a seven-year low.
"I love to fry turkey and have been doing it for years but I am not immune to frying accidents," Shatner said in a press statement. "People need to remember that hot oil and turkey can be a dangerous combination."
This year State Farm worked with John Boswell, also known as melodysheep on YouTube, to auto-tune the Shatner video and produce "Eat, Fry, Love: A Cautionary Remix."
State Farm offers these tips to avoid turkey fires:
- Cook outside at a safe distance from buildings or trees, and keep the fryer off wooden decks or patios. More than one-third of fryer fires start in a garage or patio.
- Avoid hot oil spills. Before you start cooking, fill the pot with cold oil and then lower the thawed turkey into the pot to determine how much oil should be added or removed.
- Shut off the fuel or flame when adding the turkey to hot oil to prevent a flare-up if oil does spill.
- Thaw the turkey before lowering it slowly into the pot.
- Never leave a hot turkey fryer unattended, even for a few minutes.
- Keep an extinguisher approved for cooking or grease fires nearby. Do not use ice or water to cool down oil or extinguish a fire.