Fire officials reminding people to follow safety tips as they cook Thanksgiving meals

DELMARVA – While we’re at home enjoying the Thanksgiving holiday, many first responders find themselves busy answering calls for service.

“It can be lacerations from cutting themselves. Burns are a big type of call, and unfortunately, we all tend to get the fire call on Thanksgiving,” said Ocean City Fire Department’s Ryan Whittington

Whittington says even if you’re a seasoned chef, always stay on your guard for fire hazards. “People think ‘I’ve been cooking for years, I’m going to be fine, I’m going to keep doing things the way that I’ve always done them,'” said Whittington. “Sometimes those family recipes and traditions, when you don’t follow basic safety tips, can lead to disaster.”

As people start taking their turkeys out to thaw, going over your safety checklist should be another top Thanksgiving priority. Item number one: never leave your cooking unattended.

“Oftentimes the leading cause of kitchen fires is unattended cooking,” said Whittington. “Folks start something on the stove, put something in the oven, they walk away. They might sit on the sofa, take a phone call.”

Next up, make sure the handles on your pots and pans are turned in – and not sticking out – so children or pets can’t knock them over. You should also make sure you have a kid and pet-free zone around the stove and oven.

“We know sometimes kids don’t listen and when that happens, they may knock over a boiling pot of water, or hot green beans that you have on,” said Whittington. “If you accidentally trip over your pet while you’re in the kitchen, the potential is great for you to burn yourself.”

Fire officials also say they want you to be extra careful if you’re planning on deep frying a turkey. Make sure the turkey is completely thawed out, and pat the outside as dry as possible. Never fry the turkey on wooden decks, and keep the frying action at least 25 feet away from your home.

If you’ve already got decorations out for other holidays, keep candles at least three feet away from anything flammable. Also, never leave a lit candle unattended. The Ocean City Fire Marshal’s Office also says you should make sure you’re not overloading outlets or power strips.

“Christmas lights and all the pretty things that people want to hang up can overload the electrical outlets or power strips,” said fire safety inspector Allison Lecates. “Then we have the potential for an over energy situation, which is then going to cause a fire.”

And most importantly, don’t forget to make sure your family knows these fire safety tips and has an emergency plan. Lecates says that’s important because fires can get out of hand faster than you’d think. “A lot of fires we see today can go from the incipient stage, which means they’re just beginning, to a full building fire in a matter of seconds,” she said.

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