Firefighters warn against leaving food unattended in the kitchen on Thanksgiving

With Thanksgiving just two days away, local firefighters are once again offering safety tips for people who plan to cook in the kitchen during the holiday.

D.C. Fire and EMS leaders told FOX 5 that leaving food unattended while cooking is the biggest reason for kitchen fires all year long —  especially on Thanksgiving. Officials say if you’re tired, distracted, on medication or drinking, don’t use the stove!

"Thanksgiving is a day of celebration, a day to be thankful for things. I really don’t want to have somebody burned out of their house or even worse, a tragedy or death," said D.C. Fire Chief John Donnelly.

Chief Donnelly and Fire Marshal Mitchell Kannry utilized a new "Interactive Kitchen" D.C. Fire and EMS received via a grant to demonstrate Thanksgiving Day cooking dangers in a more safe environment.

If you are frying that turkey, Kannry says to make sure the fryer is not near anything that can catch fire. He also says to make sure the turkey is completely thawed and use safer oils that burn at higher temperatures. The fire marshal recommended using peanut oil with higher temperatures that do not ignite as easily if the oil does spill and hits something.

If you do have a fire on your hands — Get out of the home and call 911!

READ MORE: Firefighters rescue residents from 2-alarm blaze at northwest DC apartment building

D.C. Fire and EMS says over 20% of the fires they responded to between October 2021 and October 2022 were due to cooking. They're urging people to check their smoke detectors and make sure they work!

On Thanksgiving Day 2021, Prince George’s County Fire said they responded to 104 incidents with two incidents actually showing flames that had to be put out when crews arrived. PGFD said both fires were food-related.  

FOX 5 spoke to people in D.C. about some of the kitchen mishaps they’ve experienced and what advice they have to share.

"No fires, but you know, things get overlooked and overdone," Jackie Thomas said. "Just keep a watchful eye on the stove timer, also handles turned to the side versus straight out."

"I had a glass top oven with a glass that goes up, and I didn’t realize that was just for decoration," Jared Majerele said. "I thought it was heat-disperser, and I was sautéeing something on top of the glass with the glass stove going, and I moved the pan around a little bit and it exploded all over the kitchen. Make sure your oven’s clean and that you have the glass top up. That’s a good start."

Majerele also advised not to cook alone.