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Thanksgiving is the time of year when family and friends gather together to enjoy a wonderful meal and celebrate the good things in our life. Don’t let a kitchen fire spoil such a happy occasion.

Did you know that cooking fires are the No. 1 cause of home fires and home fire injuries in the United States? On average, there are almost three times more cooking fires on Thanksgiving Day than any other day. Moreover, Thanksgiving Day fires in residential structures cause more property damage and claim more lives than residential structure fires on other days.

• Never leave hot food or appliances unattended while cooking.

• Always be alert when you are cooking and not under the influence of medication or alcohol.

• Keep anything that can catch on fire at least 3 feet away from the stove, toaster oven or other hot sources.

• Keep the stove top, burners and oven clean.

• Do not wear loose fitting clothes that can catch fire if you stand too close to a burner.

• Create a 3-foot kid free zone around the stove.

• Never hold a child while cooking, drinking or carrying hot foods or liquids.

• Do not use a tablecloth or place mat if very young children are at home.

• If you have a grease fire in a pan, smother the flames by carefully sliding the lid over the pan (making sure you are wearing an oven mitt). By placing the lid on the pan, you are removing one of three elements a fire needs to survive — oxygen. Next turn off the burner, which removes the second element a fire needs to survive — heat.

• Do not try to move the pan. Keep the pan on the stove with the cover on until it is completely cool. If in doubt, get out of the house and close the door behind you to help contain the fire. Call 911 from outside the house or from a neighbor’s house.

• If a smoke alarm sounds during normal cooking, press the pause button. Open a door or window or fan the area with a towel to get the air moving. Do not disable the smoke alarm or take out the batteries. Practice fire escape plans with your family so if you were to have an emergency, family members know the safest way out and know your safe place to meet outside.

Turkey Fryer Safety:

Every year, turkey fryer fires burn down homes and buildings. If you choose to use a turkey fryer, follow these tips to save your dinner and your property.

• Use your turkey fryer outdoors, a safe distance from buildings and combustibles.

• Be aware of wind and other environmental conditions.

• Never use turkey fryers on wooden decks, in garages or under overhangs. Use the fryer on a flat surface to prevent tipping.

• Never leave the fryer unattended. Most units do not have thermostat controls. Oil will continue to heat until it bursts into flames.

• Never let children go near the fryer. The oil inside the cooking pot, as well as the pot itself will remain dangerously hot for hours after use.

• To avoid oil spillover, follow manufacturers instructions to determine the proper amount of oil. If instructions are not available, determine it this way. Place the turkey in the pot, fill the pot with water until the turkey is covered by an inch of water. Remove the turkey. Mark the water level. Dry the turkey. Dump the water, dry the pot thoroughly and fill it with oil to the marked level. Do not overfill the fryer.

• Use heavy pot holders or oven mitts. If possible, wear safety goggles to protect your eyes from oil splatter. Turkeys must be completely thawed and marinades removed. Oil and water do not mix. Water causes oil to spatter and spill, causing fire or even explosion.

The National Turkey Federation recommends refrigerator thawing, allowing approximately 24 hours for every five pounds of bird.

Every year around this time the Brainerd Fire Department responds to some kind of cooking fire. We also recommend that you get out of the house immediately and call 911 for help. Fire spreads very rapidly and we do not want anyone injured trying to put out a fire. Let the professionals do that. For more information on fire safety please call your local fire department at 828-2312.

And as I always say “Be safe out there!” Happy Thanksgiving to all!!