Billings firefighters have already responded to a record 35 house fires so far this year that started in a place that sees a lot of action during Thanksgiving— the kitchen.
“About 50 percent of structure fires originate in the kitchen in this country and so it only leads to follow that we are going to have more fires that start in the kitchen as well as more fires that start in general on Thanksgiving,” says Becky Biggins, deputy fire marshal for the Billings Fire Department.
According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, there are more than 165,000 cooking fires in the United States every year, leading to around 200 deaths and 3,200 injuries.
Biggins says it is important to remember that fire needs oxygen to spread, so smother it quickly if you can.
“The best option if you can do it quickly and safely is to grab a lid, grab a cookie sheet and put it on top of that fire to smother that fire. The same thing if you have a turkey fire in the oven, if you turn off the heat and keep it closed that is going to be your safest course of action rather than try to transport that or open the oven and get more oxygen,” says Biggins.
And you need to know what you are doing if you are frying a turkey. Every year, there are more than a thousand turkey fryer fires in the country.
“If you are going to do that make sure that you do your research and understand what is safe and what is not. Make sure it is on level ground, away from pets and kids and other situations. Make sure that turkey is completely defrosted and make sure you don’t overfill how much oil needs to go in,” Biggins says.
It’s also a good idea to have a fire extinguisher and know how to use it for a minimal fire, but if there’s any concern get out as soon as possible.