(WETM) – As the cold weather rolls in and families prepare for holiday gatherings, officials are reminding New Yorkers to keep it safe, especially when cooking, during home fire season.

The Firefighters Association of the State of New York (FASNY) issued a reminder, saying that the holiday season is also the peak home fire season. Much of this stems from cooking, FASNY said, especially on Thanksgiving.

According to FASNY and the National Fire Prevention Association, in 2018 there were 1,630 home cooking fires on Thanksgiving and 740 on Christmas. In 2022, FASNY said there have already been 118 deaths from house fires, compared to 85 this time last year.

“Our state’s volunteer firefighters hope that all New Yorkers have a safe and happy holiday,” said FASNY President Edward Tase, Jr. “When preparing your Thanksgiving feast and other upcoming holiday meals, remember to take important safety precautions, such as not leaving your cooking unattended. Unattended cooking is a leading cause of home fires that can easily be prevented.”

FASNY explained that the risk increases on Thanksgiving because many people deep fry their turkeys. The association reminded to completely thaw the turkey before deep frying it.

The NFPA and FASNY provided these tips ahead of Thanksgiving dinner:

  • Remain in the kitchen while cooking.  Whether you’re frying, grilling, baking or broiling food, it’s always a good idea to supervise cooking directly.  
  • Most cooking fires involve the stovetop, so keep anything that can catch fire away from it, and turn off the stove when you leave the kitchen, even if it’s for “just a second.”  A second is all it takes for a house fire to start.
  • If you’re simmering, boiling, baking or roasting food, check it regularly and use a timer to remind yourself that you’re cooking.
  • For homes with children, have the kids remain outside the kitchen area while food is being prepared. Pets should also be kept out of the kitchen while cooking. The safest chef is an undistracted chef!
  • Make sure your smoke detectors are functioning by pressing the “test” button.  If needed, replace the batteries – and if not functioning after testing, install brand-new smoke alarms. (If you have smoke alarms with sealed-in batteries that do not function when tested, replace the entire unit.)
  • Clothing ignitions lead to approximately 16% of home cooking fire deaths. It is important to wear short, close-fitting, or tightly rolled sleeves as loose clothing can dangle onto stove burners or gas flames and catch fire. Keep the cooking area clean and combustible materials away from your stove top: built-up grease as well as oven mitts, food packaging, wooden utensils, towels, curtains and other materials on or near the stove can catch fire.
  • Deep-frying turkeys is extremely dangerous, especially when done without care.
  • If a turkey fryer must be used, follow these tips
    • Turkey fryers can easily tip over spilling hot oil across a large area. Use your turkey fryer only outdoors on a sturdy, level surface that is well away from things that can burn.
    • Make sure to have a “3-foot kid- and pet-free zone” around your turkey fryer to protect against burn injuries.
    • An overfilled cooking pot will cause oil to spill over when the turkey is placed inside. Determine the correct amount of oil needed by first placing the turkey in the pot with water.
    • A partially frozen turkey will cause hot oil to splatter. Make sure your turkey is completely thawed before you fry it.
    • Turkey fryers can easily overheat and start a fire. Check the temperature often with a cooking thermometer so the oil won’t overheat.
  • The pot, lid, and handles of a turkey fryer can get dangerously hot and cause burn injuries. Use long, insulated cooking gloves that protect hands and arms when you handle these items.