Thanksgiving cooking can be dangerous without proper precautions

COVINGTON -- Fire danger doesn't emanate just from turkey fryers. More cooking fires are reported on Thanksgiving Day than any other time of the year, according to the National Fire Protection Association.

"U.S. firefighters responded to roughly 1,300 home fires involving cooking equipment on Thanksgiving in 2007, roughly three times the daily average of cooking fires," a press release from the NFPA states.

In a three-year period from 2003 to 2006, home cooking fires in general were responsible for 150,200 home structure fires, causing 500 deaths, 4,660 injuries and $756 million in property damage.

Unattended cooking was by far the leading contributing factor in these fires, the NFPA release states. Something that could catch fire was too close to the stove or other equipment ranked second, and unintentionally turned on or not turned off burners ranked third.

The following tips are offered to avoid fire and injury caused from cooking:

* Be on alert. If you are sleeping or have consumed alcohol, don't use the stove.

* Stay in the kitchen while you are frying, grilling or broiling food. If you leave the kitchen for even a short period of time, turn off the stove.

* If you are simmering, baking, roasting or boiling food, check it regularly, remain in the home while food is cooking and use a timer to remind you that you are cooking.

* Keep anything that can catch fire -- oven mitts, wooden utensils, food packaging, towels or curtains -- away from the stove top.

Should a fire occur, this is what the NFPA urges:

* Keep a lid nearby when you're cooking to smother small grease fires. Smother the fire by sliding the lid over the pan and turn off the stove top. Leave the pan covered until it is completely cooled.

* For an oven fire, turn off the heat and keep the door closed.

* If you try to fight the fire, be sure others are getting out and you have a clear way out.

* When in doubt, just get out. When you leave, close the door behind you to help contain the fire.

* Call 911 after you leave.