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Thanksgiving fire safety tips

Image of a Thanksgiving dinner.

(Courtesy photo)

MALMSTROM AIR FORCE BASE, Mont. --

More than 2,000 Thanksgiving Day fires are reported to U.S. fire departments each year and cause an average of 5 deaths, 25 injuries and $21 million in property loss.

The leading factor contributing to ignition of non-confined Thanksgiving fires is the “misuse of material or product” (35 percent).

Within this category, heat sources too close to combustible materials and abandoned or discarded materials account for 14 percent and 9 percent of all non-confined Thanksgiving fires in residential buildings.

No smoke alarms were present in 20 percent of non-confined Thanksgiving fires in occupied residential buildings.

Malmstrom Air Force Base Fire and Emergency Services team urge the base populace to keep fire safety in mind when preparing holiday meals.

Here are a few fire safety tips:
• Stay near the cooking area when frying, grilling or broiling food.
• If leaving home, even for a short period of time, turn off the stove or oven.
• Use a timer as a reminder that the stove or oven is on.
• Stay alert; do not cook if you are sleepy, have been drinking alcohol or have taken medicine that causes drowsiness.
• Keep burnable items off of the stovetop.
• Follow the manufacturer's guidelines if you plan to use a turkey fryer.
• Don't store flammable items in an oven, microwave or toaster oven.
• Clean food and grease off burners, stovetops and ovens.
• Wear tops with sleeves that are short, close fitting or tightly rolled up.
• Enforce a "kid-free zone" of at least three feet around the cooking area to keep children away.
• Use the stove's back burners whenever possible and turn pot handles inward to reduce the risk that pots will be knocked over.
• Never hold a small child while cooking.

In addition, here are a few informational tips for using turkey fryers:
• Oil in fryers is highly combustible: if spilled (common by overfilling) onto a heating element, the entire unit may easily engulf in flames.
• As most fryers don't have thermostat controls, be vigilant about not overheating the oil to avoid combustion.
• Turkey fryers should always be used outdoors, no closer than 15 feet to a building or any material that can burn; do not use turkey fryers on decks or in garages.
• Do not leave the fryer unattended.
• Do not allow children or pets near the fryer.
• The oil inside the cooking pot can remain dangerously hot, even hours after use.
• Use insulated potholders or oven mitts when handling the pot or lid handles.
• Only place completely thawed turkeys into the pot.
• Ensure an all-purpose fire extinguisher is nearby; do not use water to extinguish grease fires.
• Use your best judgment when attempting to fight a fire and only fight fires if a safe egress route has been established.

As a reminder, if an emergency occurs call 9-1-1. Provide the dispatcher with the nature of the emergency, location of the emergency, a name and call-back number. Report fires even if they have been extinguished.

The Malmstrom Fire and Emergency Services team wishes everyone a safe and Happy Thanksgiving. Anyone needing additional fire safety information can call 731-4836 or 731-4100.