This week, millions of American families all over the nation are starting to prepare for the coming holiday weeks, buying holiday meal supplies, surveying the state of decoration stockpiles and readying for approaching gatherings of families and friends.
But in that hustle and bustle of holiday prep work, authorities say that we all need to take a few moments to sit back, breathe and consider the safety and security of their home and family before the big days arrive.
The FCN talked with officials from the Forsyth County Fire Department to give you a no-nonsense guide to staying safe and out of harm’s way this Thanksgiving.
Cooking for the holidays
According to Division Chief Jason Shivers of the Forsyth County Fire Department, although the kitchen can be a gathering place for friends and family during the holiday season, there are several important safety considerations to be made when preparing meals for this Thanksgiving season.
Shivers said that the risk of kitchen fires is something they always warn residents about during the holidays, due to their frequency and preventability.
"Many home fires occur each year throughout the holiday season, most especially around Thanksgiving because of simple kitchen fires, and they're simple because they can all be avoided with proper simple precautions using some common sense approaches," Shivers said.
Every home should have at least one ABC-rated fire extinguisher, one rated to extinguish solid, liquids and electrical fires, and it should be accessible from the kitchen area, Shivers said.
He added that residents should be mindful of how severe any fire is and be ready to evacuate and call 911 in the case of a fire.
According to Shivers, the frying of Thanksgiving turkeys has become a tradition for American families, and with that tradition come some additional risks not inherent with other forms of cooking.
He said that unless you are using an electric fryer, designed to be operated inside and on a counter, all turkey frying should be done on a concrete patio or driveway area away from any combustibles.
With both categories of kitchen safety, Shivers said to be mindful of children and pets when cooking.
Heating the home
Last week, Forsyth County got its first real cold snap of the fall/winter season, as temperatures plummeted to the low 30s overnight Friday, according to Weather Underground.
With that cold, Shivers said that people are going to be turning more and more to extra home heating options to get cozy in the chilly temperatures. He said there are several things to keep in mind, to keep warm in a safe, responsible way.
Shivers said that if used and maintained properly, wood burning fireplaces and stoves are a great way to heat your home and add ambiance to gatherings with family and friends. But it is important that they are regularly maintained and used properly to avoid dangerous situations.
“Any time you use fire as a tool, you've got to be very respectful of that fire,” Shivers said. “So make sure that your chimney or flues have been inspected and cleaned by a professional if they have not been inspected or cleaned since last burning season.”
Shivers said that such inspections are readily available in the Forsyth County area and many different options can be found by a quick search online.
Without such inspections, Shivers said that things can go from cozy to dangerous before homeowners even know it, especially if a fireplace or stove is damaged.
“It happens every year, starting about now when we hit the first cold spell,” he said. “Disaster is one spark away.”
When using a space heater to add some extra warmth to your home, Shivers said that people should consider two main things: stability and placement.
He said that you should never for any circumstances use an outdoor space heater indoors, and the guidelines of the heater should be followed at all times.
“Following the manufacturer's guidelines is an absolute must,” Shivers said. “Every appliance comes with different sets of rules and regulations on what and how much space you have to leave around that device as it produces heat.”
He said that placement of the heater also includes the heater’s accessibility to children and where the cord is placed.
“You never ever want to allow a cord for such a device to be put underneath a rug or any kind of blankets,” he said.