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Thanksgiving Day is the No. 1 day for home fires in Massachusetts. Don't be a statistic with these fire safety tips

Woman kneels in front of stove

When cooking your turkey in the oven this Thanksgiving, be sure your oven is empty before turning it on, and wear short, tight-fitting sleeves while cooking.

When preparing for Thanksgiving, it’s easy to get caught up in all the family fires you’ll have to put out over the meal — no politics at the dinner table, please — that you might forget the actual fires you could cause in the kitchen.

But according to a press release from the Department of Fire Services, Thanksgiving Day is the No. 1 day for home fires in Massachusetts.

“Each year, we see about twice as many fires on Thanksgiving as on the next-closest day,” State Fire Marshal Ostroskey said in the release. “Don’t let a fire ruin this special time with your family and loved ones. Practice fire safety when cooking and heating your home, and be sure you have working smoke and carbon monoxide alarms that can alert you to danger.”

There were 678 Thanksgiving day fires in Massachusetts from 2017 to 2021, and 87 percent of them started with cooking activities at home, according to the release. These fires caused seven civilian injuries, seven fire service injuries, and more than $3 million in estimated losses.

Here are a few cooking safety tips to remember:

• Be sure your oven is empty before turning it on.

• Keep flammable items away from the stovetop.

• Wear short or tight-fitting sleeves when cooking.

• Turn pot handles inward over the stove.

• Remember to “stand by your pan” and stay in the kitchen when boiling, frying, or broiling.

• Use a timer when baking or roasting and never leave the house with the oven running.

• The best way to respond to a stovetop fire is to “put a lid on it” and turn off the heat.

• The best way to respond to an oven or broiler fire is to keep the oven doors closed and turn off the heat.

• If the fire is not quickly snuffed out, leave the house and call 9-1-1 from outside.

Fire safety experts also strongly discourage the use of outdoor gas-fueled turkey fryers that immerse the turkey in hot oil. The National Fire Protection Association states that home use of “turkey fryers that use cooking oil, as currently designed, are not suitable for safe use by even a well-informed and careful consumer.” They recommend using new “oil-less” turkey fryers.

Generally, the confined space of a closed gas oven used for cooking does not produce enough carbon monoxide to present any dangers, but it can present a hazard if used for several hours consecutively — such as when roasting a turkey. If you have a kitchen exhaust fan, use it; if not, crack a window for fresh air when using the gas oven for a prolonged period. Working CO alarms are vitally important to protect you and your loved ones from carbon monoxide poisoning.

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