Valley fire chief shares Thanksgiving cooking safety tips

Published: Nov. 23, 2022 at 10:35 PM EST
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HARRISONBURG, Va. (WHSV) - If a large fire breaks out while you’re cooking up your Thanksgiving feast, you should call 911, but the Harrisonburg Fire Department shared tips on how to extinguish smaller fires.

HFD Chief Matthew Tobia said the most important tip is to pay attention to what you maybe cooking. He said most fires happen when people get distracted.

If a fire develops on your stove top, simply put the lid back on your pot. If a fire forms in the oven, keep the door shut so it does not spread.

Fire extinguishers and baking soda can put out fires, but using the right product is crucial.

“There’s a big difference though between baking soda and baking powder. Baking powder can actually, potentially catch fire itself. Baking soda will not burn and will actually help extinguish the fire,” Chief Tobia said.

If you’re trying to fry a turkey this year, Chief Tobia said you should set up at least 30 feet away from a building and closely follow the manufacturer’s instructions, especially when it comes to the amount of oil you put in the fryer. Oil that overflows from the frying pot will land in the heating element which is typically an open flame.

He said attempting to fry your turkey when it isn’t completely thawed can be just as dangerous.

“A frozen turkey is infused with frozen water. As that water melts in the hot oil, oil and water never mix. It expands in the pot, and then we have a serious problem,” he said.

If you do end up with a fire while frying, Chief Tobia said to call for help. Do not try to put out this type of fire by yourself.

Also important is that homes are equipped with functioning smoke alarms and carbon monoxide alarms for homes with fossil-burning fuels. He said at minimum there should be a smoke alarm on each level of your home and one in each bedroom but not one in the kitchen.