Emergency physicians share kitchen safety tips ahead of Thanksgiving

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Millions of people across the United States will be spending time in the kitchen this week preparing for Thanksgiving. Unfortunately, time in the kitchen can result in safety risks such as cooking fires. Emergency physicians got together to offer a few safety tips to help avoid these risks during the holiday season.

Research from the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) revealed that in 2017, on average, U.S. fire departments responded to a home fire every 88 seconds. The research also revealed that Thanksgiving is the busiest day of the year for cooking fires, according to the American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP).

“A few simple steps can ensure that you spend Thanksgiving with your family and loved ones, not in the emergency department,” said Vidor Friedman, MD, FACEP, president of ACEP. “Try to avoid doing too many things at once; burns, fires or lacerations happen when you lose concentration, get careless with hot liquids or oils, or try to slice things too quickly.” 


  • Make sure you have smoke alarms near the kitchen, bedrooms and each level of the home. Test the smoke alarms’ batteries and make sure the devices are fully operational.
  • Keep a fire extinguisher in your kitchen. You can contact your local EMS department for tips on proper training and storage.
  • Avoid loose clothing or anything that dangles while cooking.
  • Keep an eye on pots simmering on the stove, as well as items baking in the oven.
  • Keep children and pets away from cooking areas. 
  • Clean cooking areas regularly. Grease build-up is a health and safety hazard.
  • Double-check when you are done cooking that you have turned off the stove, oven or any other appliances.


  • Do not throw water on a grease fire. The safest and fastest way to extinguish a grease fire is to remove oxygen from the flame. Ways to do this include smothering it with a lid, another pot or a blanket. If the fire is not severe, you can cover it with baking soda.
  • Do not put a frozen turkey in the oven. Always thaw and dry it first.
  • Never deep fry a frozen turkey, it should be completely thawed out first. Frying a turkey should be done outside on a flat, non-flammable structure.

Additional health and safety tips can be found here. Information for this article was provided by the American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP).

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