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Holiday safety 101
Cooking and driving tips from local officials
Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is a time for friends, family and giving thanks.

With the day ushering in the holiday season, local officials are urging safety before and during the day when cooking, driving and decorating.

Here are some of tips:

 Holiday cooking

“Residential cooking in the home is the leading cause of residential structure fires in America,” said Forsyth County Fire Department Division Chief Jason Shivers. “Around the holiday season, that number actually increases pretty significantly as families gather around the kitchen and folks cook large meals. But there are a number of things you can do to prevent fire.”

• Make sure the stove and oven are clean and free of heavy grease or other food buildup.

• Don’t leave the kitchen when cooking, and make sure food is accounted for while on the stove or in the oven.

• If food on the stovetop catches fire, douse it with water and remove from the burner. In the case of a grease fire, put a lid over the burning area but never try to douse it with water.

• Keep the handles of pots, pans and other cooking devices turned toward the back or center of the stove, not sticking out toward the front.

This will accomplish a few things. First, it will prevent children from reaching up and grabbing often hot handles and pulling cooking food onto themselves. Kitchen burn numbers also rise during the holiday season. Second, it will keep the cook or other guests from bumping into a hot dish and causing a spill. As soon as oil and grease spill out of a container and onto a hot area of the stove, you can have a flash fire.

 Driving

According to AAA’s 2017 travel forecast, 50.9 million Americans will travel 50 miles or more away from home this Thanksgiving — a 3.3-percent increase over last year. The 2017 holiday weekend will see the highest Thanksgiving travel volume since 2005 with 1.6 million more people taking to the nation’s roads, skies, rails and waterways.

For this reason, extra precaution on the roads is necessary, said Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Doug Rainwater, a spokesman for the agency.

“Never drink and drive,” he said. “Just say no, or if you do [drink], use Uber or call a friend. Make this a safe thanksgiving for yourself and everyone else who will be driving.”

• AAA and Budweiser offer a free towing service, “Tow to Go,” that will be available from 6 a.m. Wednesday, Nov. 22 to 6 a.m. Sunday, Nov. 26.

• Uber or Lyft, ride-sharing services, also offer rides, as well as Drive Sober, Georgia, an app that offers a list of free and safe rides home.

• To ease Thanksgiving traffic congestion statewide, the Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT) is suspending construction-related lane closures on interstate highways, heavily traveled state routes and roadways near major shopping centers, malls and shopping districts from 6 a.m. Wednesday, Nov. 22 to 5 a.m. Monday, Nov. 27.

Candles

“This week as we enter the holiday season, now through the New Year, candles are a very popular item,” Shivers said. “As we get through Thanksgiving and then toward Christmas, everyone likes to have an ambiance from candles around their home.”

• Always keep candles away from children and pets.

• Don’t place candles near Christmas trees or other flammable items.

• Never leave a room or the house without blowing out a candle. Unattended candles can cause fires when the glass candle holders break or crack unexpectedly or get knocked over.