The El Dorado Fire Department is urging local families to remember to be aware of fire safety hazards as they gather for Thanksgiving today.
"This time of year, it's not uncommon for people to get overwhelmed with things that are going on in their homes with the added additional family and friends that come over during Thanksgiving," said Fire Chief Chad Mosby.
According to the National Fire Protection Association, Thanksgiving is the peak day for home cooking fires; three times the daily average of fires occur on Thanksgiving annually. In 2019, fire departments around the country responded to an estimated 1,400 home cooking fires, the organization says.
Mosby said it's important to be aware of what's going on in the kitchen today, and to not forget about food on the stove or in the oven amid the excitement of the holiday.
"(With) the fact that we're all preparing potentially large meals, you just need to be aware of things that are cooking. If you put things in the oven, be sure that you remain aware the entire time. Don't get distracted by other things going on," he said. "Set yourself some reminders to remember those things that are cooking. It's real easy to set reminders on your electronic device now, and set you cook time reminders on your stove or oven."
Some may also be frying turkeys today. Whether one is a novice turkey fryer or an old pro, it's important to be sure to fry the large birds in an outdoor area, Mosby said.
"Make sure that one, you don't do that inside your garage. It needs to be done outdoors," Mosby said.
One must also be sure their turkey -- or anything else they may fry today -- is entirely thawed and dry.
"A sudden exposure to a very cold object will cause the pot to boil over and could cause a fire," Mosby explained. "So use extreme caution, and if you're not familiar with frying turkeys, you need to be really, really careful."
The NFPA also recommends staying in the kitchen while cooking and keeping a close eye on children to be sure they don't burn themselves on hot food or cooking appliances. Additionally, the organization says one should be careful not to let appliance's electrical cords -- like those of coffee makers, plate warmers or mixers -- hang off kitchen counters.
Once Thanksgiving has passed, the Christmas season will have officially started, and holiday decorations will likely start to go up, Mosby said. He urged local residents who plan to hang lights to be careful not to overload extension cables and other electrical circuits.
"Traditionally, this is the time when people will start putting up Christmas lights after the Thanksgiving holiday," he said. "Typically, when you see fire hazards is when people are starting to overload circuits with things they're not designed to carry."
He said those who aren't sure what the capacity of a circuit is can call an electrician for guidance.
"They can tell you the proper loads for each of those circuits," Mosby said. "A good rule of thumb: if you're tripping breakers, that's your house trying to tell you you're overloading your circuits."
The NFPA suggests checking to be sure that all smoke alarms in one's home are operational as well.
Mosby said he and his fellow firefighters hope everyone has a happy holiday.
"We want to wish everybody a happy Thanksgiving and we pray that everybody has a good time gathering with friends and family over the holidays," he said.