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8 Thanksgiving safety tips: How to prepare dinner safely and prevent a fire from the turkey fryer

November 21, 2011 by Steven M. Gursten

A Thanksgiving checklist to help you avoid a holiday in the hospital, from our Michigan injury lawyers

William Shatner is getting attention this Thanksgiving holiday for another satiric commercial. But this funny commercial for State Farm has a great message: Be careful with your turkey fryer!

Why does Shatner care? Well, more cooking fires occur on Thanksgiving than any other day of the year. According to State Farm, grease and cooking-related claims more than double on Thanksgiving Day compared to an average day in November.

Now, the cynical injury lawyer in me – the one who has ended up suing State Farm more than any other auto insurance company in Michigan for refusing to pay outstanding No-Fault insurance benefits to people injured in auto accidents – might call this an attempt to garner good will by State Farm. I’m sure there are also dozens of insurance bad faith lawyers around the nation, and several thousand homeowners who were actually insured by State Farm after Katrina who would also agree with me.

But this is a smart move by State Farm. Insurance is a game based upon spreads (when they aren’t gambling reserves in the stock market). And if paying for public service announcements like this one ends up preventing cooking fires that burn down homes insured with State Farm, which in turn would have to pay out on as the nation’s largest home insurer, then it’s a good business move. Wrapping it up as a public service message makes it even better. I’m adding a link at the bottom of this blog as to why I still recommend most people shopping for insurance stay away from State Farm – which has made my list of worst insurance companies for multiple years.

When seemingly harmless events (like Thanksgiving) come up, it’s important to take a moment to remind everyone about safety hazards. There are some, like “black-out night” – when there are more drunk drivers on the road than any other day of the year and where it makes sense to avoid going out unless you have to – or at least to exercise the same care and caution as you would on New Years. But other safety hazards… especially when a turkey fryer is involved – well, who knew?

Below is a checklist I’ve put together with some additional Thanksgiving safety tips:

1. Never thaw a turkey at room temperature
. Doing so promotes the growth of dangerous bacteria and the risk of serious food poisoning. The safest way to thaw your turkey is to thaw it in the refrigerator. You can do this with the turkey placed on a tray in its unopened wrapper, breast facing up. A general rule is to thaw the bird one day in the refrigerator for every four pounds of turkey.

2. Make sure your oven is clean. A dirty oven is a fire hazard.

3. Don’t allow children in the kitchen.
Keep the kitchen off limits to children and those that are not helping with dinner. This will reduce the risk of mishaps and accidents in the kitchen.

4. Turn pot handles in.
Doing so prevents the handles from dangling over the edge of the stove and running the risk of spills and burns.

5. Avoid loose, long-sleeved clothing and dangling jewelry when cooking.
Clothing can catch fire and the jewelry can catch on handles, causing spills and burns.

6. Have a clean cooking space.
Keep decorations and clutter away from sources of direct heat to prevent fires.

7. Don’t leave a burning stove unattended. If you must leave the kitchen, turn off the stove or have another person watch your cooking.

8. Beware of the dangers of a turkey fryer.
Read the paragraph below for several precautions you can take if you’re preparing your turkey in a turkey fryer.

If you are cooking with a turkey fryer

o Place the turkey fryer in an open area away from all walls, fences and any other structures.

o Never use the turkey fryer in, on or under a garage, carport, porch, or any structure that can catch fire.

o Keep your turkey fryer in full view while it’s turned on.

o Raise and lower the turkey slowly to reduce splatter and avoid burns.

o Cover your skin when adding or removing food.

o Wear safety goggles to protect your eyes from any oil spatters.

o Frequently check the oil temperature.

o If your oil begins to smoke, immediately turn the gas supply off.

o If a fire occurs, immediately call 911.

o Do not attempt to put out a fire with water.

We all want to have a happy Thanksgiving. Following these safety precautions can help you avoid a trip to the emergency room on this special holiday. With that, enjoy that fried turkey and be safe!

Steve Gursten is one of the nation’s top injury lawyers. He is head of Michigan Auto Law and president of the Motor Vehicle Trial Lawyers Association. Steve has received the highest verdict in the state for a car accident or truck accident victim in 2008, 2009 and 2010, according to Michigan Lawyers Weekly. Steve frequently blogs about consumer safety and is available for comment.

– Photo courtesy of Creative Commons, by BierDoctor

Related information to protect yourselves:

State Farm: Repeat offenders in abusing auto accident victims award

17 tips to prevent car accidents on Thanksgiving weekend

Michigan personal injury resource center

Michigan Auto Law is the largest law firm exclusively handling car accident, truck accident and motorcycle accident cases throughout the entire state. We have offices in Farmington Hills, Detroit, Ann Arbor, Grand Rapids and Sterling Heights to better serve you. Call (248) 353-7575 for a free consultation with one of our Michigan injury lawyers.

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