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More first-time turkey cookers, outside-cooking raise concern for fire officials on Thanksgiving

The last thing anyone wants in 2020 is to not have a home on a holiday. Here's what firefighters advise.

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — The last thing anyone wants in 2020 is to not have a home on a holiday. It's a concern that fire officials are familiar with because Thanksgiving is a fire-prone day for them, particularly when it comes to deep-fried turkey.

"Do not put a frozen turkey into a deep fryer," said Chief Chris Harvey of the Engine 14 Sacramento Fire Department. "You'll have a big explosion."

Other good tips to keep your Thanksgiving safe are to keep cooking areas clear of pets and children as much as possible, turn pan handles inward and keep a fire extinguisher on hand in case of a grease fire.

"We have more fires today than any other day throughout the entire year," said Sacramento Metro Fire's Chris Vestal. "That's because we have more people that are cooking normally than on a regular COVID-19 Thanksgiving, but this year we expect it to be even more problematic."

Vestal said that's because more novice chefs are staying home cooking. It's something the Butterball Turkey Hotline can confirm - they've said that they have received more calls from first-time turkey cooks who've opted to stay home.

But also, in an attempt to be safe with COVID-19, many are cooking and spending time outside.

"Make sure that cooking device is on a level area - preferably cement, not grass and out away from the house," said Harvey.

With more and more people purchasing propane tanks to keep warm outside during the pandemic, Harvey said he's noticed a shortage. e said many may be digging in the back of their garage's to find an old one. 

If you're using an old propane tank, you'll also want to check the expiration date that's stamped into the propane tank's metal to ensure it's still safe to fill, Harvey advised.

"If you're going to use any kind of propane or gas device, that creates carbon monoxide," said Vestal. "You need to have good air flow that needs to be able to blow out so you can receive fresh air."

If there's a fire pit in use, fire officials recommend the metal grate be used that goes on top to prevent embers from flying out. But no matter what, they urge you to be especially careful because of high winds happening on Thanksgiving day.

"The Camp Fire [was only] two years ago... at this time of year in November and December so, don't be lulled into a false sense of reality just because it's cooler outside...," said Vestal.


Thanksgiving safety tips

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