LOS ANGELES -

Utility officials are reminding Southlanders to be careful when cooking Thanksgiving meals to avoid fires.

"An increase in indoor activities combined with cooking and entertaining family and friends can cause many customers to forget basic home safety,'' said Bill Messner, principal manager of health and safety at Southern California Edison. "Safety should never take a holiday.''

Cooking fires are three times more likely on Thanksgiving Day than any other day, according to the National Fire Protection Association. Cooking equipment, overloaded circuits and extension cords are leading causes of electrical accidents and home fires during the holiday season.

The leading cause of fires in the kitchen is unattended cooking.
   SCE recommends these safety tips:
   -- plug countertop appliances into outlets protected by a Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter;
   -- replace appliances that have frayed electrical cords;
   -- when using electrical appliances, keep electric cords out of reach of children;
   -- do not overload outlets with multiple power strips;
   -- do not use extension cords with major appliances;
   -- unplug appliances that aren't in use, preventing them from being turned on accidentally;
   -- locate all appliances away from the sink; and
   -- never fight an electrical or grease fire with water. Keep a fire extinguisher nearby that is rated for electrical fires and grease.

For more on electrical safety at home, visit www.sce.com/safety.