Seasonal safety tips for preparing Thanksgiving dinner

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With all the people and activity going on at Thanksgiving, it's important to keep inside and outside cooking areas safe. Did you know that Thanksgiving is the leading day of the year for home fires involving cooking equipment, according to the National Fire Protection Association? It's a good time to make sure your smoke alarms are working!

Inside cooking

When you are using the stovetop, stay in the kitchen to keep an eye on things. As far as the oven goes, start with a clean oven and make sure you stay in the house and check on it from time to time. Keep anything that can catch fire away from your stove - potholders, wooden utensils, food wrappers and paper towels.

Make sure your sleeves are out of the way when cooking. Wear tighter fitting clothing with shorter sleeves.

Keep the floor clear so you don't trip over toys, bags or other items.

Make sure things like knives, electric cords from appliances, matches and lighters are out of a child's reach.

Remember that steam or splash from vegetables, gravy or coffee can cause serious burns. Keep those pot handles turned inward.

Have activities that keep kids out of the kitchen during this busy time. Games, puzzles or books can keep them busy. Let kids get involved in Thanksgiving with recipes that can be done outside the kitchen or without cooking.

Outside cooking

Turkey fryers should always be used outdoors, at a safe distance - at least 10 feet - from buildings or anything else that can burn. Never use on a wooden deck or in garages.

Keeping fryers on a flat surface will help prevent accidental tipping.

Never leave a fryer unattended. Most units do not have thermostat controls and the oil could end up heating until it catches fire.

Never let children or pets come near the fryer when it is in use. Even hours after use, the oil can remain dangerously hot.

Use well insulated potholders or oven mitts when touching pot or lid handles.

Be careful with marinades. Oil and water don't mix and water can cause oil to spill over, which can cause a fire or even an explosion hazard. That's also why your turkey should be completely thawed before it goes into the fryer.

Keep an all purpose fire extinguisher nearby and never use water to extinguish a grease fire.

Cinda Seamon is the fire and life safety educator for the Town of Hilton Head Island Fire & Rescue.

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