Fires can happen any time of the year, but with more people preparing huge feasts for Thanksgiving, there's more of a chance of a fire happening.

"When preparing your feast, it's important to include safety on the menu, keeping your home and guests happy and healthy," said Brittany Jennings, regional communications officer for the American Red Cross.

To do this, Barry Porter, regional CEO of the Red Cross of Eastern North Carolina, gives these tips:

* Make sure your smoke alarms are working before you start cooking.

* Keep young children and pets at least three feet away from the stove.

* Don't wear loose clothing or sleeves that dangle while you are cooking.

* Don't let pot handles stick out from the stove; instead, keep them turned inward.

* If deep frying your turkey, keep your fryer outside the house and away from buildings and other flammable materials and don't overfill the fryer with oil.

* If you're cooking on the stove or using a fryer, never leave it unattended. If you're simmering, baking, roasting or broiling foods, check the oven regularly.

* Keep everything that can catch fire -- pot holders, oven mitts, wooden utensils, paper or plastic bags, food packaging and towels or curtains -- away from the stove, oven or any other appliances that generate heat.

* Make sure to turn off the stove, oven, fryer and other appliances when you're finished using them. Set timers to keep track of extended cooking times.

* Always check the kitchen before going to bed or leaving your home to make sure the stove, oven and other cooking appliances are turned off.

Porter said if a pan catches fire, don't move it.

"Slide a pan lid or cookie sheet on top of the pan to put the fire out," he said. "Turn off the heat. Keep the lid on the pan until it cools. Never try to stop a grease or oil fire with water; it will fuel the fire."

If something catches fire in your oven, keep the door closed and call 911 so firefighters can make sure the fire hasn't spread to the walls, Porter said.

"If a fire occurs in the microwave, keep the door closed and unplug the microwave if you can," he said. "Don't use it again until a repairman checks it.

"If your kitchen catches fire, make sure everyone gets out and call 911 when you are outside. Once outside, stay out, Never go back inside a burning building."

Porter said there are Red Cross apps that you can download.

"The Red Cross Emergency app combines more than 35 emergency alerts to help keep the user safe," he said. "And there is a special mobile app -- Monster Guard -- designed for kids, teaching them to prepare for emergencies at home by playing an engaging game."

The Red Cross apps can be found in smartphone app stores by searching for the American Red Cross or going to

"In Wayne County, the Red Cross responded to four home fires and assisted 11 people in November 2016," Ms. Jennings said.

With these Red Cross safety tips, you can avoid being one of the statistics this year.

For more information on safety at Thanksgiving time, call the Red Cross at 919-735-7201.