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Burnin’ down the house: Safe cooking tips to prevent Thanksgiving cooking fires


Reno’s firefighters are already expecting to respond to at least one kitchen fire this Thanksgiving, according to Reno Fire Marshal Tray Palmer. 

So who’s it going to be? 

First pick is someone who tries to fry a frozen turkey, which is a terrible idea and will definitely create some flames, and probably a few oil burns. See here.

Among other bad ideas that can lead to a kitchen or cooking fire this holiday weekend: leaving your stove unattended, having tripping hazards in the kitchen – which includes pets, children and cords – and basically anything that has to do with frying a turkey. 

This Is Reno’s advice is to skip frying the turkey altogether. 


The Reno Fire Department dedicated an entire section of its safe cooking advisory this year (and in years past) just to the treacherous practice – or lack of practice – that comes with deep frying turkeys. 

“Be aware that the cooking units can easily tip over, and a small amount of cooking oil coming into contact with the burner can cause a large fire,” RFD officials said. 

And that’s just the beginning. More cautions:

  • Always use the fryers outdoors, on a level surface, and far away from patios, garages and wooden decks. You’re using a risky cooking method, not running a Chik-Fil-A in your garage. 
  • Never overfill the fryer. This should go without saying, but there should be room for your turkey, the oil, and some extra space in the fryer pot. If not, boom. Watch out.
  • Don’t leave your fryer unattended. If absolutely necessary, find a way to watch the game/parade/Hallmark movie outside so you can monitor your fryer. If you don’t like that option because “it’s cold out there,” perhaps fire up your kitchen oven where it’s nice and cozy. But not in a fryer.
  • Be sure to keep kids and pets out of the way – they don’t know how to fry a turkey anyway – and use safety gear including well-insulated pot holders, long sleeves and goggles. RFD left out closed toed shoes, so we’ll throw that in as well in case you have a flip flop or Crocs addiction.

In the event of a fire, RFD officials say to remain calm. They’ve trained for this situation, but you have not, so in this instance knowledge is power and can help keep you calm.


If you’re facing a grease fire, don’t pour water on it. Smother it by putting on an oven mitt and sliding a lid over your pan and turning off the stove. If the fire is in the oven, turn it off and keep the door closed. If it doesn’t go out right away, evacuate and call 911. 

This Is Reno’s pro tip is to keep a fire extinguisher in your kitchen, know how to use it and inspect it to make sure it still works or replace it annually.

RFD recommends a multi-purpose ABC-rated fire extinguisher. To properly use, remember PASS: Pull the pin, Aim the nozzle at the base of the fire, Squeeze the trigger, Sweep from side to side.

And if all goes well, you’ll be passing the gravy and not the fire extinguisher.


Source: Reno Fire Department, mostly.

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