The holiday season presents plenty of potential health hazards even beyond cooking temperatures.
The kitchen is often busier than normal, and electrical outlets might get more use than normal, whether that be cooking, heating or lighting.
It's no wonder the National Fire Protection Association says Thanksgiving Day averages three to four times above the norm for home cooking fires.
“Kitchen fires are certainly high on the list,” said Chip Portz, community risk reduction chief for the Central Jackson County Fire Protection District. “That includes turkey fryers, though that's gone down of late as people have stopped using the open flame fryers.”
The top causes of home cooking fires, according to the National Fire Protection Association:
• Flammable materials like oven mitts, towels, curtains or wooden utensils too close to a heat source.
• Unattended food or containers on the stove or in the oven, or accidentally leaving them on.
• Abandoned materials that smolder if not properly disposed.
• Product misuse, often turkey fryers.
So, watch the kids to make sure they grab or spill things in the kitchen or cause somebody else to do so.
Frying a turkey can be dicey if not careful, so remember a few things:
• Do it outdoors on a flat surface, safely away from the house, garage, deck or outdoor furniture.
• Don't overfill with oil or grease.
• Turn the burner off, and only put in a turkey that's completely thawed and dried off, then restart the burner. Any ice on it, and that will make steam that can push out oil. Lower the turkey in slowly, to avoid splashes.
• Keep a fire extinguisher handy, just in case.
For an entertaining and still informative take on safely deep-frying a turkey, look for State Farm’s “Eat, Fry, Love” on YouTube – William Shatner fans in particular.
Portz said electric scented candle warmers have become popular but can be hazardous if faulty or left unattended. Make sure they're UL listed and reputable, Portz said.
Thanksgiving weekend is also a time many people choose to put up their Christmas trees – another common seasonal fire source. If you're going to get a live tree, make sure to water it daily to keep it from drying out and becoming an easier fire source.
To keep that live tree – or any artificial tree – from spreading a fire, be sure to check the lights for broken sockets or frayed wires before putting them on the tree, firefighters say.
Fire personnel also warn against using extension cords with heat-producing appliances and overloading extensions and outlets in general.
Another health reminder that can be easily overlooked: If you're hosting overnight guests from afar, have a general idea of a person's medical history and possible needs, Portz said, lest an emergency arise.
“They're not going to near their doctor,” he said.