Don’t let your Thanksgiving feast turn into a fire (VIDEO)

There used to be a turkey fryer in there. (Photo courtesy

WASHINGTON – Is your cooking dangerous?

We’re not trying to insult your culinary skills, but you may be doing things in the kitchen that put your home and family at risk this Thanksgiving.

Unattended cooking is the number one cause of house fires, says Scott Graham, Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Service assistant chief. This week, distractions in the kitchen can add to that statistic.

Graham says prevention is key:

  • Keep distractions to a minimum. Get organized before you start prepping the big meal
  • Don’t leave flammable materials near the stove or oven, such as dish towels, potholders, etc.
  • Don’t leave the house while cooking to tackle other errands. People do this all the time, Graham says.
  • Clean your stove top and oven frequently. Grease build-up can ignite in a flash.

Should a fire break out, there are a few things to remember: First, don’t try to fight the fire yourself.

“Call 911 and get out of the home,” Graham says. “Fires double in size with every passing minute. Call us, we’ll be right there.”

If you do try to douse the flames, don’t use water to put out a grease fire. The water simply spreads the grease, which spreads the flames. Instead, use an “ABC” style chemical extinguisher.

But keep this in mind: Once you’ve discharged the contents of the extinguisher, you’ve got nothing left to protect yourself.

What about the fried turkey fad? Graham says fried birds are still popular – and he adds – they’re delicious.

“There’s nothing better tasting than a great fried turkey, but don’t fry yourself doing it!” Graham says.

So some precautions if plan on frying your bird:

  • Make sure the turkey fryer is at least 10 feet from your home or garage.
  • Never overfill the turkey fryer.
  • When you lower the turkey into the hot oil, at some point, you’re at the point of no return.
  • Never try to deep fry a turkey on a wooden deck.
  • Never try to deep fry a turkey in a garage or enclosed space.

Popular Science recently videotaped what can happen if you put a frozen bird into a pot of oil that is too hot for frying. The results are more “Apocalypse Now” and less “A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving.”

Kate Ryan contributed to this report. Follow Kate and

(Copyright 2011 by WTOP. All rights reserved.)

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