While COVID-19 may change how many of us gather for the holidays, the need to protect ourselves from cooking fires is still important.
The Georgia Red Cross urges people across the state to enjoy a safe and happy holiday season this year by utilizing five tips to prevent cooking fires, which is the leading cause of home fires across the U.S.
The latest report on home cooking fires released by the National Fire Protection Association says the holiday season is the peak for home cooking fires, which rises by 250 percent on Thanksgiving and 59 percent on Christmas day in comparison to the daily average.
Across the holiday months of November and December for the past four years, from 2016 through 2019, the Georgia Red Cross has responded to nearly 2,200 home and apartment fires and has helped over 9,500 people recover from this type of disaster across the state.
Most often, these emergencies are attributed to unattended cooking — a common behavior shared by nearly 70 percent of Americans, according to a national American Red Cross survey earlier this year.
To help keep your family safe during the holiday season, the Georgia Red Cross urges everyone to follow these safety tips:
- Keep an eye on what you fry! Never leave cooking food unattended. If you must leave the kitchen, even for a short period of time, turn off the stove.
- Move items that can burn away from the stove. This includes dishtowels, bags, boxes, paper and curtains. Also, make sure children and pets stay at least 3 feet away.
- Avoid wearing loose clothing while cooking.
- When frying food, turn the burner off if you see smoke or if the grease starts to boil. Carefully remove the pan from the burner.
- Keep a pan lid or a cookie sheet nearby. Use it to cover the pan if it catches on fire, which will put out the fire. Leave the pan covered until it is completely cooled.
Test your smoke alarms monthly and practice your home fire escape plan until everyone can get out in less than two minutes — the amount of time you may have to get out of a burning home before it’s too late.
Visit redcross.org/fire for more information, including an escape plan to practice with your family. You can also download the free Red Cross Emergency app by searching “American Red Cross” in app stores.
For COVID-19 safety tips, visit redcross.org/coronavirus .