“If you set it on fire, it can potentially set the deck on fire, and that seemed to be the place where people wanted to cook,” Gregory said, referring to previous accidents in Chapel Hill.
Even though UNC sophomore Kayla Wolverton and her family stopped celebrating Thanksgiving after her grandfather’s death, fire safety wasn’t something she and her mom thought about when cooking on Thanksgiving.
“We didn’t really take an exceptional amount of caution when it came to kitchen stuff,” Wolverton said. “My mom’s always responsible for consistently the same dishes — even if it’s the same stuff. It was always an adventure to help her cook, get it all in the car and take it to my grandparents’ house.”
Wolverton said it’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of Thanksgiving Day and want to speed up the cooking process in order to eat all the good food faster.
But on a busy Thanksgiving Day, forgetfulness and distraction are bound to occur.
“The biggest thing to remember when you’re cooking is to not walk away from the kitchen; it’s very easy to get distracted, because you have family coming over and you want to spend time with them,” Gregory said.
UNC junior Kit McGinley shared a similar experience with distractions.
“One year we had to order Chinese food, because my stepmom was so busy and distracted taking care of my baby half-brothers that she forgot to get a turkey,” McGinley said. “So when we got to the store, they were completely sold out, but the Chinese food place next door looked promising.”
The National Fire Protection Association found that unattended cooking was the main cause for cooking fires and deaths.
For less worry and more time to take caution, Gregory recommended cooking the day before.
“I would recommend you prepare the meal the day before, and then reheat it — that lessens the chance of things catching on fire,” he said.