How to keep your Thanksgiving dinner from turning into a raging house fire

This Oct. 14, 2016, photo shows some of the food from a Thanksgiving dinner from Martha & Marley Spoon in New York. For $120, or $180 which would include an 11-15 pound free-range turkey, Martha & Marley Spoon will ship just about everything you need to cook a decadent Thanksgiving dinner for eight to 10 people. (AP Photo/Bree Fowler)

Thanksgiving is the leading day for home cooking fires, and many home fires and related injuries are caused by unattended cooking. This season, the Indiana Department of Homeland Security and the State Fire Marshal are reminding citizen to remain attentive during the hustle and bustle of the holiday.

“Each year, home cooking-related fires are a leading cause of home structure fires,” said Indiana State Fire Marshal James Greeson. “The holidays are an important time talk to your entire family about fire safety, evacuation plans and the importance of working smoke alarms.”

The following are some important safety tips that are applicable year-round, but are especially important during the holiday season.

Kitchen Fire Safety

  • Stay in the kitchen while cooking food. If there is a need to leave the kitchen even for a short period, turn off the stove.
  • Check cooking food regularly and use a timer.
  • Keep any flammable objects, such as oven mitts, utensils, food packages, and towels away from the stovetop.
  • Use the stove’s back burners whenever possible. Keep children and pets at least three away from the stove.
  • Clean up food and grease from burners and stovetops, and be sure that the oven is clean and free from residue.

More than half of non-fatal home cooking fire injuries occur when the residents try to fight the fire themselves. Below are tips for addressing kitchen fires, if it is safe.

  • Keep an all-purpose fire extinguisher nearby. Never use water to extinguish a grease fire.
  • Keep a lid nearby when cooking to smother small grease fires. Smother the fire by sliding the lid over the pan and turn off the stovetop. Leave the pan covered until it is completely cooled.
  • In the event of an oven fire, turn off the heat and keep the door closed.
  • If the fire is too large, evacuate the home and call 911.

When deep-frying a turkey, up to five gallons of oil must be heated before placing the turkey into the device. Tests have shown that a number of available turkey fryers are not sturdy and can easily tip over, allowing hot oil to spill, creating a serious risk of fire or scalding.

  • Cook outside on a level surface several feet from any building. Never use turkey fryers on wooden decks, balconies or inside garages.
  • Don’t over fill the fryer with oil. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions to determine the proper amount of oil to use.
  • Make sure the turkey is completely thawed and dry before placing it in the fryer.
  • Never leave the fryer unattended. Most units do not have thermostat controls. If you do not watch the fryer carefully, the oil will continue to heat until it catches fire.
  • Use well-insulated potholders or oven mitts when touching pot or lid handles. If possible, wear safety goggles to protect your eyes from oil splatter.

Greeson encourages all Hoosiers to have working smoke alarms on all levels of the home, including the basement. Ideally smoke alarms will be near every sleeping area.

For more information about fire safety in the home, visit

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