Photo: kzenon (iStock)

Setting your kitchen aflame is something of a cooking punchline—“I’m so clumsy, I’ll probably set the house on fire!”—but of course there’s the reality that every year, kitchen fires cost millions of dollars of destruction. Some states, mostly in the South, are home to much more damaging cooking fires than others. But why?

According to State Farm homeowners insurance claim data, the states with the most damaging cooking fires are Georgia and Alabama, with Texas and North Carolina also in the top 10. Could it be the Southern predilection for fried chicken and fried green tomatoes? The National Fire Protection Agency notes that unattended cooking oil can be highly dangerous, and that any signs of oil smoking or smelling like it’s burning mean you should turn the heat off immediately and cover the pan with a lid.

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As the holidays are a particularly dangerous time for kitchen fires (Thanksgiving being the peak day for such fires), the NFPA has issued a printable card with some reminders:

  • Keep kids at least 3 feet from the stove while you’re cooking.
  • Don’t try to multitask while cooking, especially when heating oil. Watch the stove.
  • Keep a lid next to your pots and pans when cooking.
  • Have a working smoke alarm that’s 10 feet from your stove (to prevent false alarms).

Stay safe out there, especially in pursuit of fried chicken deliciousness.