Thanksgiving is fast approaching, and El Dorado Fire Department Chief Chad Mosby is urging the community to take steps to stay safe in the kitchen and outdoors.
According to the National Fire Protection Association, Thanksgiving is the peak day for home cooking fires. More than three times as many fires are reported on Thanksgiving Day than on an average day, the NFPA says.
"There's a lot going on. People are cooking for family, big meals, and sometimes they get distracted," Mosby said.
Mosby said the most important thing to remember on Thursday will be to pay attention to what's going on in the kitchen and not overextend oneself.
"We try to encourage people to not have too many things to juggle whenever you're cooking in the kitchen," Mosby said.
The NFPA also recommends checking one's smoke alarms before cooking starts this week. Anyone cooking on the stove should stay in the kitchen with a watchful eye on their food as well.
Adults are also encouraged to keep an eye on children in the home to ensure they give hot ovens, stoves and hot foods and liquids a wide berth. Electric cords should not dangle off counters lest a child grab it and pull it down, according to the NFPA.
Frying turkeys will also require caution, Mosby said. He recommended staying in the open air – outside of carports and garages – and ensuring that the turkey is fully thawed before it goes into the fryer.
"Do that in an open area and be really, really safe," he said. "People need to be real careful with that."
The NFPA discourages the use of turkey fryers, instead recommending purchasing a fried turkey or using a fryer that doesn't use oil.
There will be firefighters on call Thursday in case El Dorado residents do need emergency help. They'll likely celebrate with each other and their families, Mosby said.
"Typically, the firefighters who draw a shift during the holidays will have plans to eat together as a crew and they'll invite their families to come have a meal," he said.
The EFD does, unfortunately, have to respond to fires on holidays, Mosby said, but being thoughtful about kitchen safety can help prevent tragedy.
"There's a lot of times people are very careful during this time, but unfortunately we do have calls during the holiday season. We try to encourage people to be safe all the time," he said.
Mosby also noted that while there isn't currently a burn ban in effect, burning is prohibited after dark.
"They could burn leaves and small limbs, but you can't burn after dark," he said.
With safety accounted for, Mosby said he hopes local residents enjoy Thanksgiving.
"Have a safe and happy Thanksgiving and enjoy time with friends and family," he said.