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Thanksgiving can be ruined by burn accidents

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Worse than a burned turkey on Thanksgiving is a trip to the emergency room or a visit by the fire department. Dr. Fred Mullins sees people adding that trip to their holiday celebrations.

“Every Thanksgiving, we see the same thing: People get a little careless or they get distracted for just a second and disaster strikes,” said Mullins, the medical director of the Joseph M. Still Burn Center, in a news release. “Some of the burns are minor, but many are very severe and require a lot of healing and recovery.”

According to a study by State Farm Insurance, grease and cooking-related claims more than double on Thanksgiving Day. More than $15 million in property damage is attributed to turkey deep-fryer fires alone.

The oil splatter also lands children and adults in the burn center. Large clusters of people socializing near a hot stove adds to an increase in cooking-related burns.

Based on data from 2006-08, the U.S. Fire Administration estimated 2,000 Thanksgiving fires in residential buildings are reported to fire departments each year and cause an average of five deaths, 25 injuries and $21 million in property loss.

The study says fires most frequently occur between noon and 1 p.m. and most commonly are the result of cooking, followed by heating.

Richmond County sheriff’s Capt. Jack Womack said fires aren’t typically a huge problem in Richmond County. Last year, firefighters responded to one cooking-related fire on Thanksgiving Day.

“I’d be willing to say we see more than that on a normal day,” he said.


• Turkeys should be less than 12 pounds; 8-10-pound turkeys are the most appropriate size.

• Check to make sure the turkey is not partially frozen and does not have any excess water on it, which can cause hot oil splatter. Pat the bird with a paper towel to remove it.

• Place the fryer in a well-ventilated, level, outdoor space.

• Never leave the pot unattended. Keep children and pets at a safe distance.

• Use only peanut, canola and sunflower oils in the fryer.

• Make sure the fryer has a thermostat to regulate oil temperature.

• Slowly lower the turkey.

• Have a fire extinguisher nearby and never use water to extinguish a grease or oil fire.

• Remember that it might take several hours for the oil in the deep fryer to cool.

• Avoid excess drinking while using the fryer.

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