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Centerpiece of the day should be fire safety

More cooking fires occur on Thanksgiving than any other day

COLUMBUS — A table full of food may be the center of attention on Thanksgiving, but state fire officials urge Ohioans to make safety the real centerpiece of today’s festivities.

The state fire marshal’s office hopes Ohioans can stay alert and practice patience in the kitchen.

“More cooking fires occur on Thanksgiving than any other day of the year, and it’s not hard to see why,” state Fire Marshal Kevin S. Reardon said. “Between cleaning, taking care of children and cooking multiple dishes at a time, there’s no shortage of distractions in and around the kitchen. Staying alert and paying attention to what you’re cooking can go a long way in ensuring those distractions don’t have tragic consequences.”

According to the National Fire Protection Association, U.S. fire departments responded to 1,630 cooking-related residential fires on Thanksgiving Day in 2018 — more than three times an average day.

In Ohio, state fire marshal statistics show cooking-related home fires throughout the month of November have been on a slight decline in recent years — from 380 in 2017 down to 335 in 2019.

There were 22 reported house fires, with no fatalities, on Thanksgiving last year — down from a total of 47 in 2018, the state fire marshal reports.

“That’s the type of trend we really want to see continue in Ohio,” Reardon said. “Many wonderful holiday celebrations this time of year can be ruined by fires that are most often preventable, so it’s important to remain vigilant and stay safe in the kitchen.”

Ohio Department of Insurance interim director Tynesia Dorsey said homeowners coverage usually covers damage done by cooking fires, but consumers should review their insurance with an agent to make sure it is adequate.

“Nobody wants to spend Thanksgiving injured in the emergency room or having to request assistance from the fire department,” Dorsey said. “Planning ahead for a busy day and staying aware in the kitchen can decrease the risk of injury and property damage that could lead to an insurance claim.”

According to the fire marshal’s office, there are steps you can take to stay safe:

• Do not leave any cooking area unattended.

• Set a timer as a reminder of the food you are preparing.

• Maintain a “kid-free zone” of 3 feet around the stove or areas where hot food or drinks are being prepared.

• Keep paper towels and napkins away from hot surfaces.

• Keep deep-fried turkey cooking out of the garage, away from your home, and wooden structures.

• Before frying a turkey, place it in the fryer and cover it with water to determine the exact amount of oil you will need to prevent a fire caused by overflow.

• Have an appropriate fire extinguisher handy.

• If the situation becomes more serious, evacuate and call 911.

news@tribtoday.com

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