Illinois second most common state for Thanksgiving cooking fires

Staff Report

According to State Farm claims data, more cooking fires occur on Thanksgiving than any other day of the year. In fact, grease and cooking-related claims more than double on Thanksgiving Day compared to an average day in November.

With the popularity of turkey frying, people are at risk for fryer-related fires and injuries. U.S. fire departments are responding to more than 1,000 fires each year in which a deep fryer is involved. The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) says deep fryer fires result in more than $15 million in property damage each year, and hot oil splatter can cause serious burns to an adult or life-threatening injuries to a child.

According to State Farm, the top 10 states for grease and cooking-related claims on Thanksgiving Day for the past five years (2007-2011) are as follow:

1. Texas, 19

2. Illinois, 18

3. New York, 18

4. Ohio, 13

5. Florida, 13

6. California, 12

7. Louisiana, 12

8. Pennsylvania, 12

9. Minnesota, 11

10. South Carolina, 11

Most turkey fryer fires are preventable. Recognizing common mistakes is a critical step in reducing risk of a fire or potentially fatal burns.

More than one-third of fires involving a fryer start in a garage or patio. Cook outdoors at a safe distance from any buildings or trees, and keep the fryer off any wooden structures, such as a deck or patio.

Avoid a hot oil spill-over by first filling the pot with cold oil and then lowering the thawed turkey into the pot to determine how much oil should be either added or removed.

Shut off the fuel source or flame when adding the turkey to the hot oil to prevent a dangerous flare-up if oil does spill over the rim.

Make sure your turkey is properly thawed before lowering it slowly into the pot.

Never leave a hot turkey fryer unattended.

Do not use ice or water to cool down oil or extinguish an oil fire.

Keep an extinguisher approved for cooking or grease fire nearby.

In 2011, State Farm teamed up with actor William Shatner to produce a short video dramatizing an actual accident where the celebrity was burned in a turkey fryer mishap on Thanksgiving. The docudrama, “Eat, Fry, Love: A Cautionary Tale,” warns people about the dangers of improper turkey frying.

As a result of the video and safety campaign last year, State Farm grease and cooking-related fire claims occurring on Thanksgiving Day were carved in half, and the daily average for the entire month reached a seven-year low. It seems Shatner really DID help save the world from exploding turkeys.

I love to fry turkey and have been doing it for years, but I am not immune to frying accidents,” Shatner said. “People need to remember that hot oil and turkey can be a dangerous combination.”

To get the safety message out in 2012, State Farm worked with John Boswell, aka melodysheep on YouTube, to auto-tune the Shatner turkey fryer video. Called “Eat, Fry, Love: A Cautionary Remix,” Boswell injected the perfect blend of creativity and repetition to create a Thanksgiving safety anthem sure to have families clamoring for a moister, tastier turkey.

From the Nov. 21-27, 2012, issue

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