For most, Thanksgiving is a time to spend with family and relax over a plate full of food.

For firefighters, it is a day when they respond to more kitchen fires than any other day of the year.

“Statistically, kitchen fires count for 50% of home fires we have each year,” Wetumpka Fire Department fire chief Greg Willis said. “On Thanksgiving Day, the likelihood of a kitchen fire goes up by almost 250%. It is one of the days we need to be on our best guard.”

A national study backs up Willis’ remarks.

The report, recently released by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), states Thanksgiving is the by far the leading day for home cooking fires with 1,600 reported home cooking fires on Thanksgiving in 2017.

Willis said the most common cause of kitchen fires is inattention. 

“We actually responded to a fire this week where someone was frying something,” he said. “They went outside and when they came back inside there was a fire.”

He advised to keep a lid within reach and keep combustibles and children away from cooking areas.

“If you’re cooking where you can keep a lid close, you can cover a fire with the lid and it will suffocate it out,” he said. “Keep the area clear. Try to keep kids away from cooking and find activities they can do where they are in another room.”

In the event of a superficial burn, Dr. Kate Cronana with KidsHealth recommends running cool (not cold) water over the area, or hold a clean, cold compress on the burn for three to five minutes; do not apply butter, grease or powder to remedy the burn as it may cause infection; apply aloe gel to the area; give acetaminophen or ibuprofen for pain while following label instructions; and keep the affected area clean.

The South is known for its deep-fried delicacies but deep frying a turkey comes with dangers.

Willis stressed people tend to overfill the cooking container with oil. Then when the turkey is lowered into the container, oil splashes out and catches fire.

He said the turkey needs to be completely thawed and dry.

“The water on the turkey creates a violent reaction,” he said. “Put the fryer on concrete away from the house. If you’re under a carport or on a deck, it could catch fire. Keep combustibles away from any cooking area.

The NFPA report stated cooking is the second-leading cause of home fire deaths, accounting for 22% of all fire deaths. 

The report also shows less progress has been made in reducing deaths from home cooking fires than deaths from most other fire causes. 

There were more cooking fire deaths in 2013 to 2017 than in 1980 to 1984, despite total home fire deaths falling by 46% over the period.