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Cooking Thanksgiving meals

Safety first during holidays

Electric digital turkey fryers can be dangerous if not used correctly, JBLM fire officials warn

Northwest Guardian

Published: 02:04PM November 21st, 2013

The latest trend in holiday food preparation is electric digital turkey fryers made to be used indoors, but Joint Base Lewis-McChord fire officials warn these new gadgets can be dangerous if not used correctly.

The fryers are counter top appliances that heat six to 11 quarts of cooking oil with an electric heating element and can fry a turkey up to 20 pounds.

Manufacturer’s instructions state that indoor turkey fryers should never be left unattended and children or pets should not be allowed near them. Indoor turkey fryers should only be plugged into a wall and not an extension cord.

Turkey fryers are notoriously dangerous, and the National Fire Protection Agency discourages their use, even by well-informed and careful consumers. JBLM fire officials agree.

“It’s bad enough we use turkey fryers outside, but now we’re going to put gallons of hot oil on a counter,” Ed Chavez, JBLM fire inspector, said. “If you feel the need to use an indoor turkey fryer or any turkey fryer, make sure you’re using it properly. Read the directions.”

The use of turkey fryers is allowed on JBLM, but base regulations state barbecue grills or other open flame devices like outdoor turkey fryers are prohibited on balconies and should be 15 feet away from any structural wall. An exception is made for service members and their families residing in Town Center on Lewis Main.

According to the NFPA, Thanksgiving is the leading day of the year for home fires involving cooking equipment. In 2012, JBLM’s Department of Emergency Services responded to four cooking fires during the week of Thanksgiving, all resulting in minimal damage.

Use caution with candles

Candles are a common holiday decoration and can spread wonderful scents throughout a home, but a candle is also an open flame, and can easily ignite anything that can burn.

The NFPA claims December is the peak time of year for home candle fires. Eleven percent of home candle fires began when candle flames touched a combustible material, like decorations, compared to only 4 percent for the rest of the year.

Chavez recommends putting candles in a glass container or in a sturdy candle holder so they are not exposed to flammable objects, and keep candles at least 12 inches away from anything that can burn.

Always blow candles out before leaving the house or going to bed. Avoid the use of candles in the bedroom and other areas where individuals can fall asleep.

If a power outage occurs, never use candles for light. Have flashlights and battery-powered lighting ready. Battery-operated candles are a good option, Chavez said.

Generator safety during storms

During a power outage, portable generators can be a temporary power source solution, but individuals should know the risks.

Make sure generators are used in a well ventilated location outside, away from doors, windows and vent openings. Never use a generator in an attached garage, even with the door open.

When plugging in appliances, make sure they are plugged directly into the generator or a heavy duty extension cord rated for the outdoors. Turn generators off and let them cool down before refueling them.

To reduce the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning, JBLM residents should make sure the carbon monoxide detectors in their homes are working. All homes on JBLM have installed carbon monoxide detectors, and residents should change the batteries when daylight saving time begins and ends, Chavez said.