Insurance and Safety Fire Commissioner John F. King is urging Georgians to use caution while cooking this holiday season.

“I join many Georgians in being thankful for firefighters and other fire safety professionals,” said Commissioner King. “However, we don’t want Georgians to have to call the fire department on Thanksgiving Day, so we urge all Georgians to follow these simple fire safety tips as they prepare the family feast.”

According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), cooking is the leading cause of home fires.

One out of three home fires begins in the kitchen – more than any other place in the home, and Thanksgiving Day is the peak day for home cooking fires.

That’s why King is urging people to take extra precautions this week when cooking that Thanksgiving turkey dinner.

“The challenge here is that a lot of people don’t typically cook. Or they want to try something new. They don’t read the instructions, the family members start arriving and they get in a panic to get everything done quickly so they take shortcuts. And these shortcuts can be quite deadly,” King explained.

According to the National Fire Protection Association, Thanksgiving is the peak day for home-cooking fires, followed by Christmas Day and Christmas Eve.

They said unattended cooking was by far the leading contributing factor in cooking fires and fire deaths.

Cooking causes half of all reported home fires and more than two of every five home fire injuries, and it is the second leading cause of home fire deaths.

Commissioner King suggests the following cooking safety tips to ensure you have a safe and enjoyable holiday season:

Make sure to set a timer while you cook.
Keep combustibles like towels and rags away from your cooking space.
If a pan catches fire, cover it with a lid and turn off the burner. Water makes a grease fire worse, so consider purchasing a fire extinguisher to keep in your kitchen year-round.
Turn pot handles inward to prevent an accident and ensure your children and pets cannot grab them.
Wear tight-fitting sleeves when you cook so that loose clothing does not contact a burner and catch on fire. If clothing does catch fire, don’t forget the life-saving adage of “stop, drop, and roll.”
Never deep-fry a frozen turkey. Ice turns to steam when a frozen turkey is dropped into hot oil, and the rapidly expanding steam can cause the oil to boil over and catch fire. See what can happen here

And most importantly, King says, is to make sure that you have a working smoke alarm in the house.

“We go back to having a functioning smoke detector in the home,” King said. “It’s astounding the number of deaths we’ve had in the State of Georgia. And when our investigators go in to work these fires, we find there was no working smoke detector. So, it’s tremendous the number of human losses when it could be so easily prevented.”

If you have a cooking fire you can’t control – just get out and get everybody else out and call 911.