DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) – As Thanksgiving approaches and your family prepares to make some delicious holiday favorites, the State of Ohio is reminding residents to take extra precautions to prevent holiday fires.

State Fire Marshal Kevin Reardon said cooking fires occur more on Thanksgiving than on any other day of the year, and they’re likely to happen as a result of distractions.

“Between cleaning, taking care of children and cooking multiple dishes at a time, there’s no shortage of distractions in and around the kitchen,” said Reardon. “Staying alert and paying attention to what you’re cooking can go a long way in ensuring those distractions don’t have tragic consequences.”

State officials said while smoking is still the number one known cause for fire-related deaths, cooking-related home fires in the month of November went up significantly from 2019 to 2020, increasing from 391 in 2019 to 434 last year.

Those stats were reinforced by the National Fire Protection Association, which reported that on Thanksgiving Day alone, around 1,400 home cooking fires were reported to U.S. fire departments in 2019, more than three times an average day.

“Many wonderful holiday celebrations this time of year can be ruined by fires that are most often preventable, so it’s important to remain vigilant and stay safe in the kitchen,” said Reardon.

Judith L. French, Ohio Department of Insurance Director, added, “Homeowners insurance generally covers cooking fire damage, but it’s always a good idea to review your insurance protection with an insurance agent.”

Officials offer these tips for having making a safe holiday meal:

  • Do not leave any cooking area unattended.
  • Set a timer as a reminder of the food you are preparing.
  • Maintain a “kid-free zone” of 3 feet around the stove or areas where hot food or drinks are being prepared.
  • Keep paper towels and napkins away from hot surfaces.
  • Keep deep-fried turkey cooking out of the garage, away from your home, and wooden structures.
  • Before frying a turkey, place it in the fryer and cover it with water to determine the exact amount of oil you will need to prevent a fire caused by overflow.
  • Have an appropriate fire extinguisher handy. 
  • If the situation becomes more serious, evacuate and call 911.

If an incident does occur, they also advise taking pictures as soon as possible to submit for insurance claims. For more safety tips, click here.