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Bryan Fire Marshal weighs in on Thanksgiving Day preparation tips

Posted at 6:14 PM, Nov 23, 2022

BRYAN, Texas — It’s that time of year to cook up some turkeys for Thanksgiving but we want to make sure it’s done safely.

Chief Gerald Burnett an assistant fire marshal with Bryan Fire Department said preparation is key.

“When I’m in the kitchen, that needs to be my domain,” said Burnett. “I need to be able to focus on the food that I’m cooking, the timers that I have set. We want to be using those timers because we’re cooking multiple things. It’s very easy to lose track of something, burn something, and then we’re having to go back to the store again or we’re having to deal with a smoke-filled house.”

Chief Burnett said keeping an eye on what you’re cooking is important, whether that’s inside the kitchen or outside using a deep fryer.

“We want to make sure we’re watching what we cook and watching who’s around it and what’s around it,” said Chief Burnett. “Could be containers of oil, could be dish towels, oven mitts. Oven mitts will protect when you grab something hot but will burn if you expose them to flames or heating elements.”

According to FEMA, cooking fires occur more often at homes on Thanksgiving Day than on any other day of the year.

For deep frying turkeys, it’s important to fully thaw your turkey first.

Placing a frozen – or even damp -- turkey into hot oil can ignite a fire.

“The water that goes into that oil is going to expand and push back out and you’re going to have heated oil coming out on top of you and potentially on top of your burners, and then you have a really high likelihood of having a fire, a flash fire,” says Chief Burnett.

Chief Burnett highly recommends cooking your food in one day and not overnight.

“That’s one of those things that easy to fall into that trap, ‘oh, I’ll just let the turkey cook overnight,’ says Chief Burnett. “Don’t cook while you’re sleeping. I discourage that strongly. Don’t cook while you’re sleeping. If you’re cooking, set timers. Pay attention to what you’re cooking and try to have all that stuff turned off before you go to bed.”

Chief Burnett also recommends you have batteries in your smoke detector, that your vent hood works properly, to have a fire extinguisher on standby, and to have a fire escape plan in the event you need to leave your home.

You can find more safety cooking tips for Thanksgiving Day here.