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Thanksgiving safety – a few words about cooking, frying turkeys, and choking

The Seattle Fire Department reminds residents to be safe while cooking and gathering this holiday season. Thanksgiving is the leading day for home cooking-related fires in the U.S. Unattended cooking is by far the leading contributing factor in cooking fires and fire deaths. Other holiday-related home fires involve heating and electrical sources.

How to be safe in the kitchen

  • Check on food regularly while cooking and set timers – unattended cooking is the number one cause of home fires.
  • Keep children and pets at least three feet away from the stove.
  • Remove flammables such as towels, oven mitts and food packaging away from the stove top.
  • If a fire starts on the stove top, cover it with a lid or metal cookie sheet and turn the stove off. Do not throw water on a grease fire.
  • If you experience a fire beyond the pan that has spread, get outside of the home or apartment and call 9-1-1 immediately.

Check out these cooking safety videos in several languages and American Sign Language

A word about turkey frying

If you are considering frying a turkey, be very careful. Large quantities of hot cooking oil can pose a significant fire and serious burn risk. Watch this video from the National Fire Protection Association about turkey fryers.

Thanksgiving safety tips from the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA)

How to respond to someone choking

If someone appears to have food lodged in their throat and is coughing, encourage them to continue coughing. Do not try to help by slapping their back.  If they are coughing, that means that air is getting through.

However, if the person shows signs of choking such as not being able to breathe, cough, or speak, is making high pitched sounds when breathing or they are doing the universal sign of holding the throat with one or both hands, choking rescue abdominal thrusts will be necessary.

If displaying any of the above signs, ask person if they can speak. If they can speak, allow them to continue coughing, unassisted.

If they are unable to speak or breathe, proceed with abdominal thrusts to help them.     

Watch this video to learn how to give abdominal thrusts.       

  • Position your leg between person’s legs, to better catch them if they become unconscious and fall.
  • Make a fist with one hand
  • Put the thumb side a little above the bellybutton
  • Take free hand and grasp fist and push hard and quick upward into abdomen area
  • Continue thrusts until object is expelled, or when person is able to breathe, cough, or talk. If person becomes unconscious, call 9-1-1 and begin CPR
  • Always follow up with a medical professional