turkeyThanksgiving Day is the peak day for home cooking in the U.S. Unfortunately, it's also the peak day for home cooking fires.

In 2009, the number of home cooking fires on Thanksgiving Day was three times the national average of fires per day, according the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA.)

From 2005-2009, U.S. fire departments responded to an estimated average of 155,400 home fires per year involving cooking equipment. These fires caused an annual average of 390 civilian deaths, 4,800 civilian injuries, and $771 million in direct property damage

With those daunting figures in mind, the NFPA is reminding home cooks of the following safety tips:

• Keep anything that can catch fire (i.e., oven mitts, wooden utensils, food packaging, towels) away from the stovetop.

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

•When simmering, baking, roasting, or boiling food, check it regularly, remain in the home while food is cooking, and use a timer to remind yourself that you are cooking.

•Stay alert.  If you are sleepy or have consumed alcohol, don’t use the stove or stovetop.

•Keep a lid nearby when cooking to smother small grease fires.

If you do have a cooking fire:

•Just get out! When you leave, close the door behind you to help contain the fire.

•Call 9-1-1 or the local emergency number after you leave.

•If you try to fight the fire, be sure others are getting out and you have a clear path

•Smother a small grease fire by sliding the lid over the pan and turn off the stovetop. Leave the pan covered until it is completely cooled.

•For an oven fire, turn off the heat and keep the door closed.

For more information, visit www.nfpa.org/thanksgiving.