Public safety officials are encouraging families to cook and decorate with caution this holiday season.
Forsyth County Fire Capt. Jason Shivers said unattended cooking is one of the leading causes of residential fires every year.
“Keep an all-purpose ABC fire extinguisher in the kitchen or near where you’re cooking at all times,” Shivers said. “Also keep anything that’s flammable away from your cooking appliances.”
Shivers noted that oven mitts, wooden spoons, aprons and the like should be kept away from heat sources.
He said children and pets should also stay a safe distance from cooking appliances.
According to one national study, more cooking fires occur on Thanksgiving than any other day of the year.
The report ranked Georgia 11th in the country from 2005-10 for total grease or cooking fire claims on the holiday dedicated to gratitude and food.
Shivers said turkey fryers should always be used outdoors on a hard, nonflammable surface, such as a concrete driveway or brick patio. Grass may not be safe because it could be dry and easily ignitable.
He said turkeys should be completely thawed and dry before being lowered into hot oil.
When preparing the fryer for cooking, Shivers suggested covering a turkey with water in the fryer and then removing the turkey and marking the spot of the water line. Then dump the water out and use the line as a reference point for how much oil to use.
“That prevents you from filling the fryer with too much oil, placing the turkey into it and then spilling the oil onto the burner,” Shivers said. “It’s a simple, safe thing to do.”
He also recommended wearing clothing that fits while cooking with an open flame to avoid the risk of catching fire.
Shivers also had a few tips for safely decorating for the holiday.
He suggested using recently purchased strings of lights that have been inspected for frayed wiring or other potentially harmful damage.
Instead of overloading outlets with piggybacked plugs, it’s best to use UL-rated power strips.
Running wiring and extension cords under rugs and living room furniture should also be avoided.
Shivers suggested keeping doors clear of decorations and obstructions that could inhibit escape from the home in the event of a fire.
Live Christmas trees should be watered regularly and kept away from heat sources, Shivers said, and don’t allow smoking or candles near them.
He recommended ensuring smoke detectors are working in all parts of the home and especially near decorations.
Artificial trees should be UL-certified and labeled as fire resistant and decorative lights should be turned off before leaving the house.
Most importantly, Shivers said, call 911 if there’s an emergency.