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stay alert while cooking this thanksgiving
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Jackson, Miss. house fire, April 19
AP Photo/The Clarion-Ledger Schwalm

State officials are asking Mississippians to remain alert while cooking this Thanksgiving. MPB's Ashley Norwood reports on how to stay safe while preparing your Thanksgiving meal.

More house fires occur on Thanksgiving versus any other day in Mississippi, according to State Fire Marshal Mike Chaney. He says, unattended cooking is the leading cause.

"Be very careful with children. Build a kid-free zone at least three feet away from the oven and any open flame in the kitchen. Keep the kitchen clean and no clutter. If you do have a fire, get out and stay out," said Chaney. 

Mississippi leads the nation in house fire deaths. In 2016, the state fire marshal's office investigated more than 50 fire deaths.

"We in Mississippi have been trying to reduce fire deaths and burns for a long time. One of the ways we do this is by educating the public and letting them know that Thanksgiving is a good day to practice fire safety," said Chaney. 

Studies show 75 percent of deaths and injuries caused by house fires are because people don't have working smoke detectors. Lieutenant Marcus Rounsaville is with the Jackson Fire Department. 

He says that many homes with smoke detectors are not always working properly.

"If it beeps, it works. But it does let you know if it's not working when you hear that constant beep. People will get annoyed and that's why they don't want to hear it. They'll just take the smoke detector down or take the battery out. But, all you have to do is change the battery and then you won't hear the beeping anymore and it could save your life," said Rounsaville. 

Fire officials say, should a fire break out in your home, have an emergency evacuation plan and a designated meeting place for all family members.