Thanksgiving most dangerous day for cooking fires

Fireproof your holiday feasts with these tips from AAA Colorado


DENVER (November 21, 2017) – When it comes to holiday fun, food almost always takes center stage. But festivities can take your attention away from cooking and lead to fires. Cooking caused half of residential building fires in 2015, according to the U.S. Fire Administration.

More cooking fires occur on Thanksgiving than any other day of the year. In fact, the National Fire Protection Association reports that three times as many home fires occur on Thanksgiving compared with the average day, with Christmas Day and Christmas Eve not far behind.

"The holidays are all about coming together with friends and family, and nothing could be more disruptive to that than dealing with the effects of a fire," said AAA Colorado spokesman Skyler McKinley. "The cooktop is the most common origin of cooking fires, and unattended cooking is the greatest contributing factor. Luckily, a little extra care can keep your kitchen – and celebration – fire free."

Before you bake, broil, grill, sear, or fry, remember these tips for fireproof feasts:

  • Frying a turkey? Make sure it's completely thawed. If you attempt to deep-fry a frozen turkey, it will explode and you will start a fire. A previously frozen turkey must be completely defrosted before frying, so closely read thawing directions for your turkey. As a general rule of thumb, leave the turkey to thaw for six hours per pound, or 72 hours for a 10-12 pound turkey. In a pinch, you can thaw your turkey in cold water in your sink for 30 minutes per pound – or six hours total for a 10-12 pound turkey. These are estimates. Bottom line? If it's not completely thawed, don't fry it – so inspect your entire turkey thoroughly before frying.
  • Don't overfill your fryer. Read all the directions for your turkey fryer, and fill it only to the fill line – even if you think you'll need more oil. If you overfill the fryer, it can overflow when you add the turkey. That presents a serious burn hazard, not to mention the potential for explosion.
  • Move your fryer away from your home. Fryers are meant to be used outdoors only, and at least 10 feet away from your home or any structure on your property. Using it inside your home, garage, porch, balcony, or on a deck or patio presents a serious fire risk. Don't place your fryer near any trees or shrubs, and ensure that the fryer is placed on a stable, even surface.
  • Avoid an overcooked meal (or worse!) by having someone on cooking duty at all times. If you have to leave, turn off cooking equipment first.
  • Limit distractions by planning television time, video chats, chores and other activities outside of meal preparation time. 
  • Everyone loves hanging out in the kitchen – which can lead to bumps, spills and other injuries, especially when kids are involved. To minimize accidents and divert traffic, put snacks, games and toys in another room.
  • Grills should only be used outdoors.
  • If you are sleepy or have consumed alcohol, step away from cooking and designate a "driver" to take the lead.
  • Keep dish towels, oven mitts, paper products and other flammable materials away from heat.
  • Smother grease fires with a metal lid or baking soda – never use water. Make sure to turn off the heat first.
  • If a fire starts in the oven, turn off the heat and keep the oven door closed.
  • Have a fully functional fire extinguisher handy for emergencies.
  • Call 911 for help if a fire occurs.


Play it safe this season and make sure your home is protected. For more information about home or renters insurance, call your insurance agent or insurance customer service, or visit your local branch. And if you're feeling extra generous, hey, why not invite your insurance agent to Thanksgiving dinner (or maybe the guy who writes their press releases)?! Just throwing ideas out there. No pressure. 

Happy Thanksgiving, from all of us at AAA Colorado. 

About AAA Colorado

More than 650,000 members strong, AAA Colorado is the state's greatest advocate for the safety and security of all travelers. As North America's largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 58 million members with travel, insurance, financial, and automotive-related services - as well as member-exclusive savings. For more information, visit