(WJET/WFXP/YourErie.com) — Before inviting loved ones over and spending the holiday giving thanks and diving into a celebratory feast, Pennsylvania officials are reminding those statewide about taking precautions this year.

According to a release from the Wolf Administration, many Thanksgiving home fires are due to deep-frying accidents, as they pose significant risks to personal safety and property without the proper safety measures in place.

As the U.S. Fire Administration reports, the average number of reported residential building fires on Thanksgiving Day is more than double (2.3 times more) the average number of fires in residential buildings on all other days. An average of 2,300 house fires occur nationwide on Thanksgiving, causing fatalities, injuries, and $26 million in property loss.

While frying poses a tasty alternative to the oven-roasted method, Acting Pennsylvania Fire Commissioner Charles McGarvey advises the latter, saying fryers and inattentive cooking are listed at the leading causes of Thanksgiving fires.

“Cooking fires remain a persistent and all-too common cause of home fires, resulting in significant damage and costs for those who experience them,” said McGarvey. “These incidents peak every year with the Thanksgiving holiday.”

Acting Insurance Commissioner Michael Humphrey urged residents to use caution when cooking to avoid potentially dangerous situations and prevent costly repairs for a happy and safe Thanksgiving this year.

“This holiday, as we gather to celebrate with loved ones, safety for yourself, your family and your home should be a top priority,” said Humphreys. “In the event of an unfortunate accident, homeowners insurance and renters insurance will cover certain damages, but it is best to follow safety guidelines to ensure that the worst does not happen in the first place.”

“As a physician, I would like to also stress the importance of ensuring our safety while we prepare our upcoming holiday meals because unfortunately, foodborne illnesses are common – but fortunately, they are preventable with the proper measures,” said Dr. Denise Johnson. “I encourage residents to clean, separate, cook, and chill their food in order to prevent themselves and others from getting sick.”

Here are some helpful tips for deep-frying a turkey:

  • read the turkey fryer owner’s manual thoroughly for proper set up and safety tips
  • make sure the turkey is completely thawed before frying (hot oil and ice/water do not mix)
  • use the correct amount of oil; overfilled fryers increase the likelihood of oil spilling out of the pot and hitting the burner causing flames to engulf the entire unit
  • never leave the fryer unattended; many fryers lack thermostats to prevent overheating
  • do not deep fry your turkey inside your garage, on your porch or deck, or inside your home
  • have an all-purpose fire extinguisher nearby; never use water to extinguish an oil fire
  • keep children and pets away from all cooking surfaces
  • use proper hand protection; lids and handles of the cooking pot get dangerously hot, posing severe burn hazards
  • ensure full attention is dedicated to cooking; do not consume alcohol while cooking