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Originally published November 22, 2013 at 8:04 PM | Page modified November 29, 2013 at 2:18 PM

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Celebrate safely on Thanksgiving | HomeWork

Cooking fires were involved in more than 1,000 reported home-structure fires annually on Thanksgiving, which is nearly three times the national average.

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Q: I recently heard that a lot of home fires occur on Thanksgiving. Why?

A: Thanksgiving would certainly seem to be a reasonably risk-free holiday — that is, unless you happen to know that cooking fires are more likely to happen on Thanksgiving than on any other day of the year.

According to the National Fire Protection Association, in recent years, cooking fires were involved in more than 1,000 reported home-structure fires annually on Thanksgiving, which is nearly three times the national average.

There are many contributing factors to the increase, such as distracted cooking, and cooktops and ovens that haven’t been used since the last Thanksgiving dinner. But at the top of the list is deep-frying your turkey.

This cooking method is considered so perilous that many authorities recommend you do not attempt it at all.

But if you must, always fry the turkey outdoors, and clear of buildings and any other material that can burn. Fryers should only be used on flat surfaces, and they should never be placed on wooden decks or in garages.

Most important, never leave a fryer unattended. Carefully monitor the temperature of the oil, and always follow the manufacturer’s instructions.

Another potential turkey-dinner danger is to your pets. Turkey bones can be extremely tempting to the family dog or cat, and these pets often wander off to eat their treasured snack out of sight of their owners.

But a dog or cat that eats a bone can suffer an intestinal obstruction or punctures and tears to the intestinal tract that could lead to potentially deadly internal bleeding.

To be certain that furry family members stay safe, place all turkey bones in a sealed plastic container and dispose of it in a sealed outdoor trash can. Or put them in the freezer until trash-collection day.

Most pet owners are already aware that chocolate can be poisonous to animals, but keep in mind that even safe treats should be given only in very small amounts.

Fat trimmings and very fatty foods should also be avoided because they can trigger pancreatitis in dogs and cats. In addition, large amounts of unfamiliar foods can cause nausea, vomiting and diarrhea in pets.

What else can you do to insure that everyone stays safe on Thanksgiving? Keep a close eye on the youngest family members during festivities.

Young children can experience alcohol poisoning during the holidays if they sample half-empty, unattended drink glasses.

And if you have relatives staying with you for Thanksgiving, make sure they don’t leave medicines lying around in plain sight. They can look like little candies to small children.

Designate a secure area or a tray on a high dresser for guests to lay out their pill boxes and bottles, and give them a special place to put pocketbooks and bags that may also contain medications.

HomeWork is the weekly column by the Master Builders Association of King and Snohomish Counties’ Remodelers Council about home care, repair and improvements. If you have questions about home improvement, send them to


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