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Fire officials urge safety on Thanksgiving

According to the National Fire Protection Association, Thanksgiving is the peak day for home cooking fires, followed by Christmas Day, the day before Thanksgiving, Easter and Christmas Eve. On Thanksgiving Day in 2018, fire departments across the U.S. responded to an estimated 1,630 home cooking fires.

In light of those risks, Georgia Insurance and Safety Fire Commissioner John F. King sent out a news release Monday calling on Georgians to be safe in the kitchen this Thanksgiving. 

“I join many Georgians in being thankful for firefighters and other fire safety professionals,” King said in the release. “However, we don’t want Georgians to have to call the fire department on Thanksgiving Day, so we urge all Georgians to follow these simple fire safety tips as they prepare the family feast.”

Those tips include:

-Never deep-frying a frozen turkey, which causes the oil to boil over;

-Setting a timer when you cook;

-Keeping combustibles like towels and rags away from cooking spaces;

-If a pan catches fire, covering it with a lid and turning off the burner (water makes a grease fire worse);

-Keeping a fire extinguisher in your kitchen;

-Turning pot handles inward to prevent accidents and ensuring children can’t touch them;

-Only using fireplaces and space heaters to heat homes and outdoor areas, and not using a stove to heat your home;

-Wearing tight-fitting sleeves so that loose clothing does not catch fire when cooking — if they do catch fire, then remember to stop, drop and roll;

-Ensuring smoke alarms are working and changing dead batteries.

Mike Webb, a manager with the LaGrange Fire Department, said frying turkeys should be done outdoors and away from structures. Even if it’s cold out, don’t leave the turkey unattended by going back inside.

“Always stay and watch it, don’t walk off and leave it,” Webb said. “Walking off and leaving it, that’s usually when something happens.”

Webb mentioned other seasonal items that can be fire hazards, namely space heaters. 

He suggests people get those heaters checked before they start using them for the season.

“People turn these things on for the first time, they could have a leak, or there’s dust and lint built up in there which can flare up,” Webb said.

Webb said LFD asks people not to leave stoves, ovens or irons on without supervising it, adding that many fires they respond to are caused by people who left cooking elements on and forgot them.

Lastly, heading into the Christmas season, Webb said people should water live Christmas trees to prevent them from drying out.

“They’re going to dry out, no matter if they’re watered or not,” Webb said. “But at least if you keep them watered, they last a little longer.”

A spark and a dry, indoor tree can be a recipe for disaster. 

Christmas lights generally don’t get hot enough to start fires, Webb said, but people should make sure old strands don’t have exposed wires.