MCALLEN, Texas (ValleyCentral) — Thanksgiving is a little over two weeks away, but the McAllen Fire Department wants to stress the importance of fire safety well before the holiday.

McAllen Fire Department Public Education Officer Dr. Lucas Garcia told ValleyCentral before dropping a turkey in the fryer, to turn it off and let the oil cool down by five degrees. Once cooled down, the turkey can be dropped in and the heat can be turned back up.

However, if oil splashes out of the fryer, Dr. Garcia recommends cleaning it up before igniting the flame. If it’s not cleaned up, it could result in a fire.

If you are cooking or frying outside, do not have the fryer or pit near your home.

For baking or the storing of food in an oven, do not leave it unattended. A common fire starter the McAllen Fire Department has seen is caused by leaving food to preheat in the oven and often times those pots and pans will have a plastic handle which will also cause a fire.

According to the U.S. Fire Administration, the average number of Thanksgiving Day fires was more than double (2.3 times more) the average number of fires in residential buildings on all other days.

73.5% of those fires are due to cooking, 7.7% were caused by heating, and 18.8% were reported to be from other causes.

On average, a Thanksgiving Day fire could cost $9,570 in damages and repairs.

Although the U.S. has seen about 767 residential fires on the holiday every year between 2017 and 2019, the McAllen Fire Department sees about one every year.

“Always call 911. Don’t feel like you have to handle the entire emergency,” commented Dr. Garcia. “Please remove yourself and your family from the structure and leave the professionals up to duty to take care of the problem for you.”

Dr. Garcia added that the McAllen Fire Department will not be hosting any events specific to Thanksgiving fire safety, but the department plans to “piggyback” off other city events to help continue to spread their safety tips.