ARNOLD AIR FORCE BASE, Tenn. --
Thanksgiving is a happy occasion for most, one filled with the joys of family, friends and, of course, food.
Members of the Arnold Air Force Base Fire and Emergency Services team want base personnel to have a memorable Thanksgiving and not for the wrong reasons.
”Obviously, nobody wakes up saying, ‘You know what? Today I’m going to have a bad day,’” said Christian Lyle, Arnold FES fire prevention/communications officer. “Everybody has great intentions when they wake up that morning to have a good holiday.”
However, Thanksgiving is the peak day for home cooking fires, followed by Christmas Day, Christmas Eve and the day before Thanksgiving. In 2017, U.S. fire departments responded to an estimated 1,600 home cooking fires on Thanksgiving.
Unattended cooking is the leading contributor in cooking fires and fire deaths. Cooking equipment was involved in nearly half of all reported home fires and home fire injuries and is the second leading cause of home fire deaths.
“It’s either the deep fryer cooking of the meat or just unattended cooking,” Lyle said of the leading causes of residential fires on Thanksgiving. “People will place food in the oven and they’ll get sidetracked watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade or football or what have you, and bad things can happen.”
To prevent these tragedies and others, Lyle and Arnold FES Fire Prevention Inspector Steve Macon provided the following safety tips to keep in mind this Thanksgiving.
- Make sure smoke detectors are working properly. Test these alarms. Detectors should be replaced every 10 years and batteries in the detectors should be changed in the spring and fall when time changes.
- Stay in the kitchen when cooking on the stove top to keep an eye on the food being prepared.
- Keep cooking wrappers, pot holders and towels a safe distance from the hot eyes of the stove.
- Keep children away from the stove. A safe zone of at least 3 feet from the appliance is recommended. Also make sure children stay away from hot foods and liquids. The steam or splash from vegetables, gravy or coffee could cause serious burns.
- Make sure cooking pot handles are turned inward and electrical cords from electric knives, coffee makers, plate warmers and other items are not dangling off the counter to prevent children from grabbing and pulling them off.
- If you’re choosing to use a turkey fryer, it’s important to note that Underwriters Laboratories, a global product safety organization, discourages the use of outdoor gas-fueled fryers that immerse whole turkeys in hot oil. The oil can spill over into the open flames with catastrophic results.
- Even knowing the dangers, some people will still choose to use a turkey fryer. The fryer should be placed at least 15 feet away from homes, garages, sheds, etc. Never use a fryer underneath an overhang or in a garage. Ensure a fire extinguisher is nearby for easy access in the event of fire. Never use water to extinguish an oil fire.
- Never put a frozen turkey into a deep fryer. The turkey should be allowed to thaw 24 hours for every 5 pounds it weighs. For example, an 18- to 20-pound turkey should be allowed to thaw four full days in the refrigerator before it is fried.
Those experiencing emergencies should dial 911.
Lyle added the Arnold FES team is staffed 24/7, including weekends and holidays. The department has mutual aid agreements in place with other first responders in the community and is at the ready to respond to emergencies both on base and in the surrounding area.
“We’re going to be here and the safety of the community is our number one priority; making sure everybody has an enjoyable holiday and comes back to work safe and sound and ready to complete the mission,” Lyle said.
Those with any questions are asked to contact Arnold FES at 454-5569 or 454-5306.