As more cooks head into the kitchen or get out the deep fryers for Thanksgiving, the staff of emergency rooms expect to see more patients.
"Every Thanksgiving, we see the same thing: People get a little careless or they get distracted for a second and disaster strikes," said Dr. Fred Mullins, Medical Director of the Joseph M. Still Burn Center at Doctors Hospital in a news release.
"Some of the burns are minor, but many are very severe and require a lot of healing and recovery," Mullins said.
Those burns also can be fatal.
"In past years we have had numerous fatal fires which were cooking-related," said Ralph Hudgens, Georgia's Insurance and Fire Safety Commissioner.
"Many fires are caused by a stove that has been accidentally left on," Hudgens said.
Hudgens' office advised using precautions such as setting timers as reminders to turn off burners and ovens, and making sure smoke detectors are installed and in good working condition.
“One of the most important things I can tell people is that they should never, ever allow a child to be alone or unsupervised in the kitchen,” Mullins added. “We see cases of children getting burned by touching a hot pot or pulling scalding liquid down on themselves on an almost daily basis.”
For outdoor cooking, deep-frying turkeys is growing in popularity but is considered so dangerous that it is discouraged by the American Burn Association and the National Fire Protection Association, according to Doctors Hospital.
Despite the dangers, the hospital advises those frying a turkey to follow some basic safety tips:
• Turkeys should weigh less than 12 pounds; 8-10 pound turkeys are often the most appropriate size.
• Check the turkey to make sure it is not partially frozen and does not have any excess water on it. If excess water is present, it can cause hot oil to splatter. It also helps to pat down the bird with a paper towel to remove excess moisture.
• The fryer should be used on a well-ventilated, level, outdoor surface.
• Make sure the pot is never left unattended, and children and pets are kept at a safe distance.
• Use only peanut, canola or safflower oils in the fryer.
• Make sure the deep fryer has a thermostat to regulate the temperature of the oil.
• Slowly lower the turkey into the pot to avoid spillage.
• Have a fire extinguisher nearby, and never use water to extinguish a grease or oil fire.
• Remember that it may take several hours for the oil in a deep fryer to cool.
• Avoid excessive drinking when using a deep-fryer.
• Consider purchasing pre-fried turkey or hire a professional caterer to handle the turkey frying.