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Avoid Thanksgiving Day Home Cooking Fires with These Tips

home cooking fires

When it comes to home insurance claims, the two biggest hazards are fire and water. So, Thanksgiving is a big “hold your breath” moment of the insurance industry because the holiday produces a bunch of home cooking fires.

In fact, according to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), Thanksgiving ranks as the leading day for home cooking fires. But that’s not all, the day before Thanksgiving is the 2nd highest day for reported home cooking fires.

All these fires don’t only leave families disappointed when dinner time comes around, but it can become a real tragedy. Needless to say, collectively the insurance industry also suffers with increased claims activity. According to Travelers Insurance, homeowner’s insurance claims spike around 7% after the Thanksgiving holiday, and many of those claims are fires related to kitchen activity.

Kitchen fire claims can be costly. Overall fire and lightning claims are approximately 32.7% of all homeowner’s claims, with home cooking fires having a $6,900 average claims cost. Ouch!

What are the worst days for home cooking fires?

Day of Year

Number of Home Cooking Fires

Percentage Above Average Fires Per Day




Day Before Thanksgiving









Christmas Eve



All Other Days



Source: Based on fires reported to fire departments in 2018 and published by the National Fire Protection Association.

Will my home insurance cover home cooking fires?

Your conventional home insurance policy will cover damage from fires. If you have a Difference in Conditions policy, then your fire losses are likely covered by a state run facility like the California Fair Plan, but this will require that you have both policies in-force at the time of the loss.

Another benefit you may get from your home insurance policy after a kitchen fire could be additional living expenses or loss of use coverage. This form of coverage will pay for added costs (eg. hotel bills) if you’re displaced while repairs are being preformed and the home is not habitable.

Should I deep fry my turkey this year?

Full disclosure, we have deep fried a turkey in the past. It is an admittedly frightening thing to do for the uninitiated, and it is not recommended. In fact, experts warn against deep frying your bird. Yet, this will likely not deter many of you who are considering giving it a try this year. However, before drop the bird in the hot oil, think of the statistics. Deep fryers are responsible for the highest death rate associated with home kitchen fires at a rate of 5.4 per 1,000 fires reported, and they have the highest average claims costs of $27,200. If that’s not enough for you, then consider that it also has an extremely high injury rate of 25.9 of 1,000 reported claims.

If you just have to have a deep fried turkey this year, then we recommend you go out and buy one from a professional kitchen, restaurant or your local market.

Need more evidence? Check out all these videos of turkeys exploding in deep fryers.

Having people over? Check your liability protection.

While far less frequent, liability claims do happen and can be very costly. You should make sure you have adequate liability insurance before you entertain for the holiday. You simply don’t know when there will be an incident at your home involving one of your guests.

The personal liability coverage of a home insurance policy provides coverage when guests are injured on your property. It can also help protect you from injuries your pets might inflict on visitors. So review your coverage, it is common to only have $300,000 of coverage on your home insurance policy, but increasing this to $500,000 is easy and may only cost a small amount per year.

As a side note, you should have medical payments coverage on you home insurance policy as well. The minimum coverage you must have is typically $1,000. This coverage can be very handy for inexpensive injuries and has no requirement to determine fault. As such, medical payments coverage can pay out much faster than liability because there is not requirement have complete a negligence investigation prior to determining fault and beginning payments. A great example of a medical payments loss that could be covered would be minor food poisoning.

Holiday cooking safety tips

First, put that deep fryer away! There are many other ways to cook the bird. Now, here are a few tips to make Thanksgiving dinner safe:

  1. Keep your cooking area free of flammable materials like food wrappers, towels and oven mitts. These items are usual suspect for starting fires when they’re too close to your stove.
  2. Long sleeves and hanging fabrics can come in contact with heat sources and catch fire, avoid them when cooking or working in the kitchen.
  3. Don’t leave your kitchen unattended when anything is being cooked on the stovetop.
  4. Stay at home while turkey and other items are being cooked in the oven, and regularly check those items.
  5. If you’re really sleepy or feeling a bit buzzed, it’s smart not to be making Thanksgiving dinner or working in the kitchen. You need to remain alert. 
  6. Keep children at least 3 feet away from the stove and other areas where hot food or drinks are being prepared.
  7. Make good use of timers. Set them so you don’t forget to check on food regularly.
  8. Make sure your smoke alarms are in good working order. Test your smoke alarms to make sure they’re functional.
  9. Never throw water on a grease fire that’s occurring in a pan on top of your stove. Instead, turn off the burner and smother the fire using a lid or larger pan.
  10. If a fire breaks out in your oven, turn off the heat and keep the door closed.
  11. If you’re not sure whether you can safely fight a kitchen fire that has started, leave your house and call 911.
  12. Make sure you have your fire extinguisher in a convenient place and that it’s been serviced properly.


This year COVID-19 is likely going to limit the number of guests at Thanksgiving dinner, and the holiday is going to be a bit different. This will have the benefit of limiting some of your distractions, but still, you need to remain aware of your environment and remain vigilant. If you work to avoid a holiday cooking fire this year, you’ll be good to go when things get back to normal in 2021.

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