BISMARCK, N.D. (KXNET) — As Thanksgiving and the general December holiday season draws near, many of us will be drawn to our kitchens to help prepare a holiday meal for those we love. However, whenever cooking comes up, it’s good to take fire safety into account — and as numbers from the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) display, it’s even more important to think about it on Thanksgiving Day.

As it turns out, Thanksgiving Day is more than a day of celebration: it’s also the leading day of the year for kitchen fires to take place. Three to four times more kitchen fires take place on Thanksgiving Day than on any other day of the year.

Home cooking, in itself, is already the leading cause of reported home structure fires and civilian fire injuries, as well as the second-leading cause of civilian fire deaths and direct property damage on average between 2015-2019. During Thanksgiving Day in 2019, approximately 1,400 home cooking fires were reported to U.S. fire departments — over twice the average daily amount.

“Thanksgiving is a hectic holiday, with multiple dishes cooking and baking at the same time, along with lots of guests, entertaining, and other distractions in the home that can make it easy to lose sight of what’s on the stove or in the oven,” said vice president of Outreach and Advocacy at NFPA Lorraine Carli in a press release. “Unattended cooking is the leading cause of home cooking fires, so we strongly encourage people to keep a close eye on what they’re cooking and to minimize the likelihood of getting distracted.”

Here are a few tips from NFPA to help you cook and avoid being cooked this Thanksgiving.

  • When cooking a turkey, remain at home at all times, and check the bird regularly.
  • Never leave the kitchen while cooking on a stovetop. Some types of cooking (especially those involving frying or sauteing with oil) need constant attention.
  • Make good use of timers, either egg timers or phone timers, to keep track of all cooking times (especially dishes that require more cooking).
  • Keep any items that can catch fire- like pot holders, oven mitts, towels, wooden utensils, and food wrappers at least three feet away from the cooking area. Wearing long sleeves and hanging fabrics should be avoided as well.
  • Always cook with a lid beside your pan. If you have a fire, slide the lid over the pan and turn off the burner. Do not remove the cover, and let the pan cool for a long time- NEVER throw water or use a fire extinguisher on a kitchen fire.
  • In the event of an oven fire, turn off the heat and keep the door closed. Only open the door if you are certain the fire has gone out, and stand to the side as you do so. If you have any concerns, contact your local fire department.
  • Keep children at least three feet away from the stove. Kids should also stay away from hot foods and liquids during cooking, as they can be burned by steam or hot liquid splashes.

For more information about fire prevention, visit the NFPA’s website.