The family kitchen is going to be a busier place over the next couple of days as people prepare for their Thanksgiving meal.

Cooking is the leading cause of home fires, accounting for about half the incidents in North Carolina, according to the state fire marshal's office.

But there are ways to reduce the risks.

The Boone Fire Department says it's important to have a safe space. Make sure things that can burn are kept away from the stove when cooking, and that floors are clear without anything that could be tripped over.

Unattended foods on the stove and in the oven are a major source of fires, so keep an eye on them at all times.

Another concern for firefighters is frying turkeys at home. National fire prevention experts say that's a job best left to professionals. But if you're bound and determined to do it, the Winston-Salem Fire Department has posted a video with safety tips

Firefighters say you should have a fire extinguisher nearby just in case. Also, make sure the turkey is fully thawed. A frozen turkey could lead the grease to overflow and spark a fire.

The department suggests using an infrared turkey fryer that doesn't use oil as an alternative.

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