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Cooking safety urged

Local and state officials are reminding residents to be safe this Thanksgiving when cooking food both inside and outside.

Thanksgiving is the leading day for home cooking fires, with three times the number of fires occurring on the holiday according to the Alabama Department of Insurance (ADOI).

Troy Fire Chief Michael “Buford” Stephens said that the biggest problem his department deals with on the holiday are issues with deep fryers.

“Residents should make sure to use them outside and be very careful with the hot grease,” Stephens said.

The burn ban currently in effect statewide doesn’t affect frying the turkey’s outdoors, Stephens said, but it does compel extra caution to be taken by those frying.

ADOI released several tips for fire safety over the holiday:

• Always stay in the kitchen while frying, grilling or broiling food. If you have to leave the kitchen for even a short time, turn off the stove.

• Keep anything that can catch fire such as oven mitts, wooden utensils, food packaging, towels or curtains away from the stovetop.

• Turn pot handles toward the center of the stove. Stephens explained that this is to keep children from coming and grabbing them.

• Keep the number of people in your kitchen to a minimum, especially children. Crowded kitchens cause confusions and often result in burns.

ADOI also advised in its release on how to respond in the case of stovetop and oven fires.

To deal with stovetop fires, the organization recommends carefully covering the pot or pan with a cookie sheet. With a microwave or oven fire, they say to simply close the door and turn the heat off.

Of course, Stephens advised that residents should not hesitate to call the fire department if a problem arises.

“We want everyone to have a great Thanksgiving and to just be careful when cooking,” Stephens said.