JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. -- As military families gather together for the Thanksgiving meal this week, Joint Base Lewis-McChord Fire Prevention reminds our community that fire safety starts at home.

From Halloween to New Year's Day, the number of home fires increase, according to National Fire Protection Association, so it's important to keep safety top of mind while organizing your family's feast.

Unattended cooking is still the leading cause of fires. Thanksgiving is the peak day for these incidents, followed by Christmas Day and Christmas Eve.

On Thanksgiving in 2017, U.S. fire departments responded to an estimated 1,600 home cooking fires -- more than three times as many as a typical day of the year. Unattended cooking was by far the leading contributing factor in cooking fires and fire deaths.

Cooking equipment was involved in nearly half of all reported home fires and home fire injuries, and it remains the second leading cause of home fire deaths.

JBLM Fire Prevention and the NFPA continue to believe that turkey fryers that use cooking oil, as currently designed, are not suitable for safe use by even a well-informed and careful consumer.

These turkey fryers use a substantial quantity of cooking oil at high temperatures. Units currently available for home use pose a significant danger that hot oil could be released at some point during the cooking process.

There is enough video evidence on social media to prove this point. In addition, the burners that heat the oil can ignite spilled oil. The use of turkey fryers by consumers can lead to devastating burns, other injuries and the destruction of property.

The NFPA urges those who prefer fried turkey to seek out professional establishments, such as grocery stores, specialty food retailers and restaurants for the preparation of the dish, or consider a new type of oil-free turkey fryer.

The use of turkey fryers of any kind are not authorized in JBLM barracks or dormitories. As your family spends time in the kitchen this week, here are some tips to remember:

- Stay in the kitchen when cooking on the stove top, so you can keep an eye on the food.
- Stay home while cooking your turkey, and check on it frequently.
- Keep children away from the stove. The stove will be hot, and kids should stay at least 3 feet away.
- Make sure kids stay away from hot food and liquids. The steam or splash from vegetables, gravy or coffee could cause serious burns. Offer activities that keep kids out of the kitchen during this busy time, such as games, puzzles and books. Kids can be a part of Thanksgiving preparations done outside of the kitchen.
- Keep knives and sharp objects out of the reach of children.
- Be sure electric cords from an electric knife, coffee maker, plate warmer or mixer are not dangling off the counter.
- Keep matches and utility lighters up high in a locked cabinet.
- Never leave children alone in room with a lit candle.
- Keep the floor clear so you don't trip over kids, toys, pocketbooks or bags.
- Make sure your smoke alarms are working. Did you change the batteries in the smoke alarms this year? Test them before guests arrive, and have an evacuation plan. Don't disconnect the alarms.

For more information, call 253-966-7164 or visit https://www.nfpa.org/Public-Education/Fire-causes-and-risks/Seasonal-fire-causes/Thanksgiving.