Nick McWilliams reporting – As families coordinate get-togethers for Thanksgiving, fire departments are advising safe practices with preparing meals.

Every year, some 172,000 house fires nationwide are attributed to cooking equipment such as stoves, ovens, grills, and microwaves.

Captain Joe Minocchi with the Dover Fire Department says that many incidents related to cooking and cooking implements are caused by unattended flames.

“Whenever you’re going to do your Thanksgiving [cooking] or even if you’re outside deep frying, make sure somebody is always with it. Make sure you’re always there, keeping an eye on it. Just in case, if something does happen, you’re a little faster to react to what’s going on. The interesting thing about Thanksgiving is that normally, there’s house fires every day. But there are three times as many house fires related to cooking on Thanksgiving.”

With deep-frying turkeys, the rule of thumb is keeping flammable materials as far away as possible, ensuring the deep fryer is far away from a house or building, and keeping children, pets, or even other adults as far away as possible to prevent burns or spreading flame.

Keep all flammable items such as paper towels, dish towels, and pot holders as far away from cooking surfaces as possible when cooking inside homes.

If a pan ignites, Minocchi reminds all home chefs to remain calm, address the issue quickly, and contact the fire department as quickly as possible.

“Let’s say you’re heating up some oil on the stovetop, and it catches fire, the best thing to do is put a lid on that. Sometimes, they say if you put a cool, damp rag over top of that, it’ll help too. And it does. Because sometimes you have to look for your lids. It’s kind of like your Tupperware. You have all your bowls and no lids, or all your lids and no bowls.”

As always, never attempt to extinguish a grease fire with water, and in the case of an oven fire, keep the door closed, and turn off power to the unit.

Turn all pot handles away from walkways to prevent accidents, always abide by suggested cook times, and ensure cooking implements are well maintained and clean before use.

More fire safety information is available at www.nfpa.org.

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