Fire safety tips as families gather for Thanksgiving holiday

State Fire Marshal Kevin Sehlmeyer encourages Michigan residents to stay safe when cooking this Thanksgiving and to use holiday gatherings to ensure loved ones have working smoke alarms in their homes.

In particular, he warns that portable propane-fueled turkey fryers — a popular and faster cooking method for a Thanksgiving turkey — pose a considerable fire risk if not used correctly.

“Too many holidays are ruined by preventable house and garage fires from improperly frying turkeys each year,” Sehlmeyer said in a news release. “Deep frying a turkey in several gallons of hot oil is a dangerous activity. If the cooking oil vapors ignite, it becomes as flammable as gasoline. Never use a portable deep fryer in a garage, on or under a deck, breezeway, porch or inside any structure.”

When using a portable propane deep fryer —

— Always fry on a flat surface, well away from flammable materials;

— Use a fryer with a gas valve controller;

— Make sure the turkey is completely thawed and dry the turkey before frying;

— Allow at least 2 feet of space between the liquid propane tank and the burner;

— Only use the manufacturer’s recommended cooking oil; different types of cooking oil have different ignition temperatures when heated;

— Do not overfill the portable deep fryer with cooking oil;

— If the cooking oil begins to smoke, immediately turn the propane tank to OFF by closing the propane tank valve.

— Always keep a fire extinguisher (dry powder) ready; never use water to extinguish a cooking oil or grease fire.

Additionally, residents are encouraged to protect their families year-round by having working smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors.

“Working smoke alarms on each floor and every sleeping area provides you the best chance to escape a house fire,” Sehlmeyer said.

As of today, Michigan has experienced 102 fire deaths in 94 residential fires so far this year. A majority of these fires came in structures that did not have working smoke alarms.

“We have found that several victims did not escape in the first two minutes of a fire due to smoke inhalation,” Sehlmeyer said. “A quick warning from a smoke detector can be the difference that allows residents to escape quickly.”

These tips are recommended to stay safe in the event of a fire —

— Every home should have working smoke alarms on every floor and in every sleeping area.

— Close a door between you and the smoke if a fire occurs. This will increase your survival time of escaping.

— Develop and practice a fire escape plan. Evaluate all escape routes and make sure they are clear for loved ones to escape if a fire does occur.

— Make sure escape plans allow any family members with mobility or disability issues to escape in two minutes or less.

— Working CO detectors on every floor will protect the family against this silent killer. Carbon monoxide is produced by all fuel-burning appliances in the home — for example, stove, heater, generator and dryer.

For more information and fire safety tips, go to the Bureau of Fire Services’ website at www.MIPrevention.org.


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