(Springfield, IL) – November 23, 2011. Thanksgiving Day continues to be the leading day for home cooking fires in Illinois and in the U.S., more than any other day on the calendar, according to the Illinois State Fire Marshall.
In fact, among the top 10 states that reported the highest number of fires during Thanksgiving between 2005 and 2010, Illinois ranked in second place after Texas.
State Fire Marshal Larry Matkaitis cites turkey deep fryers as the prime culprit and urges cooking vigilance.
“Constant monitoring while cooking ought to be a priority as well as the proper use of turkey deep fryers,” said Matkaitis.
Many fire departments have shown that the deep fryers tend to be top-heavy and have a risk of tipping over, overheating, or spilling hot oil, leading to fires and burns. When a frozen, cold or even wet turkey is submerged, bubbling hot oil spills over the pot’s rim and onto the burner causing an explosion, according to the fire marshal.
Matkaitis recommends, in accordance with the U.S. Consumer Safety Commission guidelines, that Thanksgiving chefs in Illinois who prefer turkey fryers should follow the following guidelines:
- Keep fryer in full view while burner is on.
- Place fryer in an open area away from all walls, fences, or other structures.
- Never use in, on or under a garage, breezeway, carport, porch, or any structure that can catch fire.
- Completely thaw (USDA says 24 hours for every 4 to 5 pounds) and dry turkey before cooking. Wet turkeys can produce excessive hot oil splatter when added to the oil.
“Both Thanksgiving and Christmas Seasons should be a joyful time for Illinoisan families in a safe environment free of any incidents caused by a fire,” Matkaitis said.
Chicago resident Linda Paine intends to follow the fire marshal’s advice.
“I would never use a turkey fryer to cook Thanksgiving dinner,” Paine said. “I use my husband.”