You are using an outdated browser. Please upgrade your browser to improve your experience.

Keep Your Thanksgiving Fire-Free

Dry turkey. Watery mashed potatoes. Family feuds. Beyond these holiday “hazards,” what makes the most trouble over Thanksgiving is a real hazard: cooking fires.

According to the National Fire Protection Association, cooking is the leading cause of home fires and home fire injuries. Unfortunately, Thanksgiving is prime time for these accidents, since many people break out the pots and pans for the holiday.

To keep your Thanksgiving safe and fire-free, follow these tips.

Mind your pan

  • Stay in the kitchen when you are frying, grilling or broiling food. If you leave the kitchen even for a short period of time, turn off the stove. Unattended cooking causes nearly 90 percent of all kitchen fires.
  • If you are simmering, baking, roasting, or boiling food, check it regularly, remain in the home while food is cooking, and use a timer to remind you that you’re cooking.
  • Be alert. You won’t be alert if you are sleepy, have taken medicine or drugs, or consumed alcohol that makes you drowsy.

Keep it clear

  • Keep anything that can catch fire—potholders, wooden utensils, food wrappers, towels or curtains—away from your stove top.
  • Make sure your sleeves are out of the way when cooking. Wear tighter fitting clothing with shorter sleeves.

Kids and pets

  • Have a “kid-free zone” of at least 3 feet around the stove and areas where hot food or drink is prepared or carried.
  • Never hold a child while cooking, drinking or carrying hot foods or liquids.
  • Turn the handles of pots and pans on the stove inward to avoid accidents.
  • Keep pets off cooking surfaces and nearby countertops to prevent them from knocking things onto the burner.
Got Turkey? Test Your Cooking Safety Know-How Take our quiz before you put on your apron. more...

Fire prevention isn’t just for the holidays, though. To keep you and your family safe, it’s important to follow some safety tips year-round.

  • Keep items that can catch on fire at least three feet away from anything that gets hot, such as space heaters.
  • Never smoke in bed.
  • Talk to children regularly about the dangers of fire, matches and lighters and keep them out of reach.
  • Turn portable heaters off when you leave the room or go to sleep.

Smoke Alarms Save Lives Install smoke alarms on every level of your home, inside bedrooms and outside sleeping areas. Check monthly that smoke alarms are working properly by pushing the test button.

At least once a year, replace the batteries in your smoke alarms; every 10 years, replace the entire smoke alarm.

Make a Fire Escape Plan If the unthinkable does happen, you want to make sure you’re prepared. Sit down with your family and make a fire escape plan:

  • Make sure all household members know two ways to escape from every room of your home.
  • Decide where you will meet outside in case of fire.
  • Practice escaping from your home at least twice a year and at different times of the day. Practice waking up to smoke alarms, low crawling and meeting outside. Make sure everyone knows how to call 9-1-1.
  • Teach household members to STOP, DROP and ROLL if their clothes should catch on fire.

Read more about fire safety and prevention at