Thanksgiving Day has more than double the number of home cooking fires than an average day according to the U.S. Fire Administration. In fact, each year more than 4,000 fires occur on Thanksgiving Day. Here are some facts outlined by the National Fire Protection Agency (NFPA) and the National Fire Incident Reporting System NFIRS:
"Thanksgiving Day fires in residential structures cause more property damage and claim more lives than residential structure fires on other days. Surprisingly, fire injuries in residences decrease on Thanksgiving Day. "Cooking is by far the leading cause of residential structure fires on Thanksgiving Day (42%), nearly double that of a normal day." "The leading factor in the ignition of residential cooking fires is food left unattended."
It’s so easy to become distracted and lose track of what’s happening in the kitchen when you are enjoying spending time with family and friends. But think of how distracting a house fire will be to your evening if enough attention is not paid to your kitchen, children and pets.
** Keep candles out of the reach of children and pets. Guest, tails and children should not be able to easily access the candles. The candle holder should be completely noncombustible and difficult to knock over. The candle should not have combustible/flammable decorations around it.
** Get a fire extinguisher. Read the instructions and place it away from where open flames could impair access yet close enough for quick access.
** Stay in the kitchen when you are frying, grilling, or broiling food. If you must leave the kitchen for even a short period of time, turn off the stove or make sure an adult supervises the cooking.
** Cook on the back burners when possible and turn pot handles in so they don't extend over the edge of the stove.
**If you are simmering, baking, boiling, or roasting food, check it regularly, remain in the home while food is cooking, and use a timer to remind you that the stove or oven is on.
** Avoid wearing loose clothing or dangling sleeves while cooking.
** Never use a wet oven mitt, as it presents a scald danger if the moisture in the mitt is heated.
** Keep kids away from cooking areas by enforcing a "kid-free zone" of three feet around the stove.
** Keep pets away from cooking areas by enforcing a "pet-free zone" of three feet around the stove.
** Keep anything that can catch on fire—pot holders, wooden utensils, paper or plastic bags, food packaging, and towels or curtains—away from your stove top and oven or any other appliance in the kitchen that generates heat.
** Always keep an oven mitt and lid nearby when you're cooking. If a small grease fire starts in a pan, put on an oven mitt and smother the flames by carefully sliding the lid over the pan. Turn off the burner. Don't remove the lid until it is completely cool. DO NOT walk about the residence or kitchen with the burning pan "to bring it outside" as travel will add oxygen to the fire and risking to spark other items on your way out. DO NOT add water! (see picture above)
** For more tips on extinguishing grease fires see our blog post Baking Soda & Grease Kitchen Fires
** If you must use a turkey fryer, make sure it is outdoors and in an open area away from all walls, fences or other structures that could catch on fire and away from moisture that can cause serious burns from steam or splattering hot oil. Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions. "The deep fryer can easily lead to an immediate burst of flames when a frozen turkey is dropped into hot oil. The fryer can tip over and cause a fire, or the steam from the frozen turkey could expand, pushing hot oil out of the device and starting a fire" Orem Fire Marshal Bret Larsen said
**Smoke alarms save lives. You should have replaced the batteries the night of Halloween. If you haven't, make sure you get that done before all the cooking starts. Install a smoke alarm near your kitchen and use the test button to check it each month.
** Whether you have a gas fire place or a real fire place make sure to install a carbon monoxide detector. Most carbon monoxide problems occur with chimneys, fireplaces and furnaces because of improper exhausting of fumes. Such problems are almost entirely avoidable through regular professional chimney inspection.
By keeping your pet’s routine unchallenged you will be able to mitigate the most common Thanksgiving emergency veterinarian visits. Feed your pet before the big family meal and away from guests to reduce stress and disturbance. Holidays are no time to make sudden dietary changes. Avoid feeding your pet rich, fatty foods (turkey skins, gravy, etc,) as they can contribute to pancreatitis. This inflammation of the digestive gland is painful and can be serious-requiring emergency veterinary assistance. Never feed your dog cooked bones – no exception for wish bones - as they can splinter and cause tears or obstruction in your pet's digestive tract leading to internal bleeding.
Additional pet hazards include:
- Baking/meat strings,
- onions found in your stuffing (may lead to anemia if consumed by dogs),
- grapes and raisins (can lead to kidney failure),
- sage and essential oils,
- tin foil,
- cellophane candy wrappers,
- coffee and coffee grind,
- Xylitol sweetener (see below),
- sweets and of course,
- chocolate (see below).
Raw bread dough may lead to Gastric Dilation Volvulus (GDV) which is the second leading killer of dogs after cancer. When heated by the pet’s body temperature the raw dough will rise and swell, leading to its rotation then twisting at the esophagus and upper intestine. The twisting traps air and food obstructing veins in the abdomen leading to low blood pressure, shock and death within a few hours. As a general rule, avoid all exercise an hour after feeding anything to your pet. Raw dough is a No No year round!
Wag’N cautions that open doors will provide for escape routes. Wag’N recommends pets are kept in an enclosed room away from the racket, crated, or in a dog pen hindering access to the home’s main entrance. Whether the pet goes out or stays confined at home there will be many chances for it to run off or try to! All pets should wear up-to-date pet tags and be micro chipped before guests start showing up. If for any reason the pet escapes and gets lost, a collar and tags and/or a microchip can increase the chances the pet will be swiftly reunited with its family.
Doggy Room. It is important that your pet has a quite place to get a time out or take a nap away from holiday guest, friends & family. Perhaps, your dog has a crate or you place your dog or cat bed in his own personal suite with a sign that says “Do Not Disturb”. Train your guests to your household rules.
Children and adults in your household should be reminded of how dangerous candy and chocolate can be to pets. Bromamine, found in chocolate is extremely toxic to dogs. Leaving unsupervised pets with chew toys such as raw hides, bones, pig ears and greenies is not recommended as pets may choke on them and the lack of supervision may be deadly to the pet. Wag'N recommends to leave them instead with a chew like Kong, natural deer or elk antler chews, or himalayan dog chew (hard cheese).
Candies containing the artificial sweetener Xylitol can be poisonous to dogs. Even small amounts of Xylitol sweetener can cause a sudden drop in blood sugar, leading to lack of coordination, seizures, low blood sugar and liver failure within hours. Xylitol is found in candy and gum.
Wag'N highly recommends pet parents keep important life saving phone numbers both in their cell phone registry and displayed on paper copy in a prominent well traveled area of the residence. Important numbers include their emergency veterinarian's phone number, the ASPCA Poison Control Center Number (888) 426-4435 and the Regular Poison Control Number (800) 222-1222.