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Thanksgiving's the No. 1 day for cooking fires: is your home safe?

When you live in an apartment building or condo complex like millions of New Yorkers, you rely on your neighbors to engage in safe behavior. Unfortunately, your often-unknown neighbors could put you at risk of injury by doing anything from damaging the stairwells to starting a grease fire in their kitchen.

As we approach Thanksgiving, cooking fires are something to pay close attention to. Unfortunately, the National Fire Protection Association says that Thanksgiving is the No. 1 day of the year for cooking-related fires, and the U.S. Fire Administration reports that as many as 15 people die every year, on average, from Thanksgiving-day fires.

Most kitchen fires are caused by leaving cooking food unattended, especially on stovetops, and frying poses the greatest risk. As the popularity of deep-fried turkey has grown, fire experts are seeing an alarming trend. Are you considering deep frying a turkey this year? Are your neighbors?

Using a deep fryer for a turkey may be more dangerous than you think, and burn injuries can be extremely painful and even cause nerve damage and disfiguring scars. To help people avoid a catastrophic grease fire from using these fryers, Pennsylvania fire and safety regulators offer these tips:

  • Never operate a deep fryer indoors or on a balcony -- only use them outside and away from trees, fences and other flammable structures.
  • Keep children and pets away.
  • Don't forget the handles and lid will be hot.
  • Be sure to read the owner's manual so you know how to set the fryer up correctly and operate it safely.
  • Don't use too much oil -- an overflow could hit the burner and cause flames to engulf the entire machine.
  • Make sure the turkey is completely thawed and dry before frying -- water and hot oil do not mix.
  • Keep an all-purpose fire extinguisher at hand. Never use water on a grease fire -- it makes it much worse.

The National Fire Protection Association considers all current models of turkey fryers that use oil to be unreasonably dangerous even for careful, well-informed consumers. If you're not sure you can operate one safely, don't. If you see a neighbor who might not be operating one safely, don't hesitate to report it -- and have a safe and happy holiday!

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