YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) — A golden-brown turkey with delicious sides may set the stage for the perfect Thanksgiving feast, but state officials urge Ohioans to make fire safety the real centerpiece of holiday festivities by staying alert and practicing patience in the kitchen.

“More cooking fires occur on Thanksgiving than any other day of the year, and it’s not hard to see why,” State Fire Marshal Kevin S. Reardon said. “Between cleaning, taking care of children and cooking multiple dishes at a time, there’s no shortage of distractions in and around the kitchen. Staying alert and paying attention to what you’re cooking can go a long way in ensuring those distractions don’t have tragic consequences.”

According to the National Fire Protection Association, on Thanksgiving Day alone around 1,400 home cooking fires are reported to U.S. fire departments annually, more than three times an average day.

“Homeowners insurance generally covers cooking fire damage, but it’s always a good idea to review your insurance protection with an insurance agent,” Ohio Department of Insurance Director Judith L. French said.

The State Fire Marshal’s Prevention Bureau created a “Preventing Kitchen Fires” video to help Ohioans keep safe while cooking. 

There are steps you can take to stay safe:

  • Do not leave any cooking area unattended.
  • Set a timer as a reminder of the food you are preparing.
  • Maintain a “kid-free zone” of 3 feet around the stove or areas where hot food or drinks are being prepared.
  • Keep paper towels and napkins away from hot surfaces.
  • Keep deep-fried turkey cooking out of the garage, away from your home and wooden structures.
  • Before frying a turkey, place it in the fryer and cover it with water to determine the exact amount of oil you will need to prevent a fire caused by overflow.
  • Have a fire extinguisher handy. 
  • If the situation becomes more serious, evacuate and call 911.

“Many wonderful holiday celebrations this time of year can be ruined by fires that are most often preventable, so it’s important to remain vigilant and stay safe in the kitchen,” Reardon said.

If you have to file an insurance claim, take photographs or video of the damage and immediately contact your insurance agent or company. Provide complete and accurate information when submitting a claim to avoid delay.

For questions or concerns, call the Ohio Department of Insurance at 1-800-686-1526 or visit its website