Fire Safety Tips Ahead of Thanksgiving

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HARRISBURG, Pa. (Erie News Now) – Residential building fires are over twice as likely to occur on Thanksgiving Day than any other day of the year. Each year, an average of 2,300 residential fires occur nationwide on Thanksgiving.

It’s a tragic, but all too common occurrence on Thanksgiving and now state officials are sharing some important tips ahead of the busy holiday, now just two days away.

“Unattended cooking is by far the leading contributing factor in cooking fires and fire deaths. Stay in the kitchen when you’re cooking on the stovetop so you can keep an eye on the food. Be careful when wearing loose clothing while cooking on your stovetop. Stay in the home when cooking your turkey and check on it frequently,” said Acting Pennsylvania Fire Commissioner Charles McGarvey.

The 2,300 house fires each year account for injuries, fatalities and $26 million in property loss nationwide. Pennsylvania’s Acting Insurance Commissioner, Michael Humphreys says too often, residents who rent their homes neglect to purchase renters’ insurance and assume their landlord’s insurance covers their belongings.

“Your landlord’s homeowner’s insurance policy will cover the building, but it does not usually cover your belongings,” said Humphreys. “In the event of an unfortunate accident, homeowners’ insurance and renters’ insurance will cover certain damages, but it is best to follow safety guidelines to ensure that the worst does not happen in the first place. We urge you this holiday to use caution when cooking to avoid potentially dangerous situations, prevent costly repairs, and have a happy and safe Thanksgiving,” he added.

According to officials, Thanksgiving fires most often result from cooking related accidents or from leaving kitchens unattended. Another very common cause: Deep frying your turkey.

“The first step is just to avoid using a turkey fryer. Even when used as directed, fryers are unnecessarily hazardous to those around them,” said McGarvey.

McGarvey says it’s smart to avoid this cooking method altogether. However, he says if you absolutely must fry your turkey, there are several precautionary steps to take to make sure you’re not dialing 9-1-1 on Thursday.

“Make sure the turkey is completely thawed before frying. Hot oil and ice or water do not mix,” said McGarvey.

Deep Frying Turkey Safety:

  • Make sure turkey is completely thawed;
  • Thoroughly read the fryer owner’s manual;
  • Use the correct amount of oil;
  • Fry at least ten feet away from your home and away from children and pets;
  • Keep an all-purpose fire extinguisher nearby;
  • Use proper hand protection; lids and handles of the cooking pot get dangerously hot;
  • Ensure full attention is dedicated to cooking;
  • Do not consume alcohol while cooking;
  • Never fry a frozen or partly thawed turkey;
  • Never leave the fryer unattended;
  • Never deep fry a turkey in a garage or on a porch;
  • Never use water to extinguish an oil fire.
  • Officials say following these and other tips will keep your Thanksgiving happy, safe and fire free.

For additional cooking safety and turkey frying safety tips, you can find them here. Visit for more seasonal fire safety tips.

For additional resources regarding homeowners or renters’ insurance, visit, or call the Insurance Department’s Consumer Services Bureau at 1-877-881-6388.


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