Cooking safely during Thanksgiving

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MERIDIAN, Miss. (WTOK) - According to the U.S. Fire Administration, Thanksgiving is the peak day for home cooking fires.

“It is such a great potential for tragedy,” explained Jason Collier, Fire Marshal with the City of Meridian.

To prevent tragedy during the holiday, local fire officials are encouraging everyone to make proper preparations when it comes to cooking, especially when deep frying a turkey.

“You don’t want it spilling over on the flame and you have to be really careful with the amount of oil verses the size of the turkey,” said Collier.

Experts say never put a frozen or partially frozen turkey in a deep fryer, also make sure the turkey is dry when placing it in the hot oil, and keep it off wooden decks and grassy surfaces.

“Some people will get nervous and the first thing they will do is go looking for a water hose to spray on it and all that does is spread the grease and in that case spreads the fire,” said Josh Todd with the Martin Volunteer Fire Department.

When it comes to cooking in the kitchen, officials say stay close to your pan and when cooking on high temperatures and turn the burner off before leaving the kitchen.

“Take the spoon or something that you are using and if you are going to go to another room take something with you, hold it in your hand and that will help you stay focused on your cooking,” said Collier.

Fire officials say always have an up-to-date fire extinguisher handy and do not hesitate to dial 9-1-1 if a fire breaks out.

“If you use your fire extinguisher then call 9-1-1, we would much rather come and there be no fire then a small delay of just a few minutes can cause a lot more damage and we have a lot more work,” said Collier.

According to Fire Research Data, Thanksgiving Day fires in residential buildings occurred most frequently from noon to 3 p.m., when many people are likely preparing Thanksgiving dinner. In contrast during the rest of the year, when residential fires peaked at "normal" dinnertime hours from 5 to 8 p.m.