MORAINE, Ohio (WDTN) – According to the National Fire Protection Association, Thanksgiving is the most common day for home cooking fires throughout the course of a year, “with more than three times the daily average for such incidents.” The biggest contributor to these fires, they said, is unattended cooking.

“Unattended cooking is the number one issue that we have that starts fires in homes on a regular basis and it’s more prevalent in the next week or so around Thanksgiving and around the holidays in general. You have people over and it’s just so easy to be distracted. You’re moving away from the kitchen to another room to be with the rest of your family and forget about what’s going on in the kitchen.”

That can often lead to fires started on the stovetop or in the oven. FEMA said 48 percent of these type of fires occur in residential buildings between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day when most people are cooking dinner. However, he said another very common reason for residential fires can be attributed to a greasy Thanksgiving favorite — fried turkeys.

“Make sure that you follow the instructions,” he said. “The biggest thing is that you don’t want to deep fry a frozen turkey. It’s got to be thawed out and prepared in a proper manner. And make sure you don’t have too much oil in the pot. And it’s got to be out of your house — don’t put it in the garage, don’t put it up next to the house, because if something bad happens, now you’re going to get your house involved in the problem.”

Failing to follow the rules could result in an eruption of flames. Space heaters can also be dangerous if they have frayed wiring or come in contact with a flammable material. Hatcher said while the best way to avoid a fire is to prevent it from happening in the first place, it’s also smart to be prepared in case of an emergency.

“So if you have a fire in the oven, the best thing to do is just leave the door closed, turn the heat source off, call the fire department and get out. If you have something on top of the stove that’s on fire, cook with a lid, carefully put the lid on top, turn the heat source off, get out and go call the fire department.”

The National Fire Protection Association also offers these tips for staying safe this Thanksgiving:

  • Stay in the kitchen when you are cooking on the stove top so you can keep an eye on the food
  • Stay in the home when cooking your turkey, and check on it frequently
  • Keep children away from the stove. The stove will be hot and kids should stay three feet away
  • Make sure kids stay away from hot food and liquids. The steam or splash from vegetables, gravy or coffee could cause serious burns
  • Keep knives out of the reach of children
  • Be sure electric cords from an electric knife, coffee maker, plate warmer or mixer are not dangling off the counter within easy reach of a child
  • Keep matches and utility lighters out of the reach of children — up high in a locked cabinet
  • Never leave children alone in room with a lit candle
  • Keep the floor clear so you don’t trip over kids, toys, pocketbooks or bags
  • Make sure your smoke alarms are working. Test them by pushing the test button

For more Thanksgiving fire statistics from FEMA, click here.