CENTRAL ILLINOIS (WMBD) — There are two days in the U.S. where there is an increased chance of a cooking fire happening in a person’s home: Thanksgiving and the day before.

The Red Cross of Central Illinois offered safety steps that everyone can follow while preparing Thanksgiving dinner:

  • Stay in the kitchen when you are frying, grilling, or broiling food. If you must leave the kitchen for even a short period of time, turn off the stove.
  • Use a timer to remind yourself that the stove or oven is on.
  • Avoid wearing loose clothing or dangling sleeves while cooking.
  • Keep kids and pets at least three feet away from cooking areas.
  • Keep anything that can catch on fire — potholders, oven mitts, wooden utensils, paper or plastic bags, food packaging, and towels or curtains — away from your stovetop and oven or any other appliance that generates heat.
  • Clean cooking surfaces on a regular basis to prevent grease buildup.
  • Consider purchasing a fire extinguisher to keep in your kitchen.
  • Always check the kitchen before going to bed or leaving home to make sure all stoves, ovens, and small appliances are turned off

“Cooking is the leading cause of home fires, home fire injuries, and the second leading cause of home fire deaths,” said Adam Runkle, Regional Disaster Officer. “Most happen because people leave cooking food unattended. We want everyone to have a safe, enjoyable holiday, so don’t leave the kitchen while you’re cooking.”

The Red Cross said smoke alarms save lives. They are reminding people to install a smoke alarm near the kitchen, on each level of the home, near sleeping areas, and inside and outside bedrooms. They are also reminding people to test the alarm each month and to replace batteries at least once a year.

The Red Cross said if you are unable to afford to purchase a smoke alarm or are physically unable to install one, the Red Cross may be able to assist you. Call 1-800-Red Cross for more information.

To learn more fire safety tips or about the Red Cross, visit its website.