BEAUFORT, S.C. (WSAV) – Thanksgiving is the biggest day of the year when it comes to cooking fires.
Roughly 1,600 cooking fires happen each year leading to five deaths and 60 injuries.
“Everything you need for a fire is right here. You have the fuel, what you are cooking, the oil and the grease, you have heat and you have oxygen,” explains Burton Fire Captain Daniel Byrne.
One of the biggest places danger can happen, according to Byrne, is with a turkey fryer.
People need to check the hoses to the tank and the burners and make sure no propane is leaking which could ignite when you light the burner.
Even then when the oil is hot and ready, but the turkey is not thawed, the water inside that turkey hits that oil with potentially disastrous results.
“When you have a frozen turkey and the freeze, the frost is going to melt that turns into water,” explains Byrne. “So cooking oil and water — they don’t mix. If you put the frozen turkey in the fryer, as it begins to defrost, the water and oil don’t mix
“It will actually cause the oil to overflow and you will have a fire.”
Byrne says people can make that blaze even worse by trying to put it out.
“People panic and the first thing they think of is fire water and they will react,” says Byrne. “They will throw water on the fire and later say I knew I wasn’t supposed to do that.”
He says the first thing to do is call 911.
“If you have a lid put the lid on it,” Byrne then suggests. “If the fire is in the pot and you can turn the gas off, turn the gas off. You have a fire extinguisher, use the fire extinguisher, or just let it burn and call 911 and make sure it doesn’t spread.”
If you aren’t careful, Byrne says cooking inside on the stove can be equally as dangerous in a matter of seconds.
“Holidays are especially dangerous because you have a lot of people in your house, you have a lot of distractions, you do a lot of cooking,” Byrne says. “It just takes one second for a frying pan or a pot to get away from you.”
He continues: “I challenge people when they go home, go to your stove, set your timer, go to the bathroom and see how much time has gone by. You could have lost your entire kitchen in that time.”
Byrne says once again, do not throw water on any kind of grease fire, put a lid on the pot if the fire is contained. Or use a fire extinguisher to put the blaze out.
“Make sure above the stove, you don’t have any cooking oil, cooking grease that’s stored up there,” Byrne says. “That is flammable, it is like having gasoline over your stove.”
Make sure to not just have that valuable tool in your kitchen, but someplace easy to reach in case of emergency.
“Not only is the kitchen sink near the stove that’s on fire, so you are less likely to go toward the flames and turn your back on it to get it, but people will also panic when there’s fire,” Byrne says. “You will forget where the fire extinguisher is or you can’t find it.”
“It should be by an exit, mounted at eye level. So as you are running out of the house you can grab it and use it,” he continues, “and if the fire extinguisher doesn’t work, or the fire gets out of control, you can still get out of the house.”
Also, Byrne reminds everyone that alcohol and cooking can be a deadly combination as well, so stay sober or under control while using the stove or cooking outside. Save the drinks for after the cooking is finished.
And never be afraid to call 911 for help. Their job is to come to make sure you and your property are protected.