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Turkey fryers and Thanksgiving mishaps cause 2,000 residential fires each year

By Kelsey Williams | 23 Nov 2010

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Nationwide, 2,000 residential fires take place on Thanksgiving. Local fire departments are preparing for emergency calls. (Photo: Courtesy of D Sharon Pruitt)

In many households, Thanksgiving means a long weekend filled with extended family, overeating and turkey-induced napping. If you’re not careful, though, the holiday catnap could be interrupted by an emergency visit from local firefighters or paramedics.

An estimated 2,000 residential fires occur on Thanksgiving every year, causing an average of five deaths, 25 injuries and $21 million in property damage, according to a new report by the U.S. Fire Administration. Mountain View Fire Capt. Tim Harvey cites two hazards: Attempts at deep frying a turkey, and visits by elderly relatives who trip and fall or suffer from exhaustion at family gatherings.

Fire and public safety departments in Santa Clara County focus on prevention and education this time of year.

“On our website, we have an informational flier on the use of turkey fryers and a general holiday safety message,” said Jon Johnston, senior fire inspector for the Menlo Park Fire Protection District. In the past, the Menlo Park Fire District has a videotaped a demonstration of the risks posed by turkey fryers and provided the video to local TV stations to raise awareness.

Though most departments do not  increase staffing on Thanksgiving day, officials say they are ready for whatever emergencies arise.

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