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Thanksgiving is all about food and family — turkey, stuffing, sweet potatoes, pumpkin pie and family time. However, preparing holiday goodies can lead to disaster — the kitchen is the setting of more fires than any other room in the house and cooking is the leading cause of fires in the home. The American Red Cross has safety steps to use while preparing the Thanksgiving feast.
“We want folks to have a safe holiday,” said Rahim Balsara, interim CEO of the American Red Cross in New Mexico “We have steps they can follow to avoid ruining their holiday with a cooking fire.”
The cooks should start by not wearing loose clothing or dangling sleeves while cooking. Never leave cooking food unattended — stay in the kitchen when frying, grilling or broiling food. If someone must leave the kitchen for even a short period of time, they should turn off the stove.
Other safety steps include:
• Check food regularly while cooking and remain in the home while cooking. Use a timer as a reminder that the stove or oven is on.
• Keep the kids away from the cooking area. Enforce a “kid-free zone” and make them stay at least three feet away from the stove.
• Keep anything that can catch fire — pot holders, oven mitts, wooden utensils, paper or plastic bags, food packaging, and towels or curtains — away from the stove, oven or any other appliance in the kitchen that generates heat.
• Clean cooking surfaces on a regular basis to prevent grease buildup.
• Purchase a fire extinguisher to keep in the kitchen. Contact the local fire department to take training on the proper use of extinguishers.
• Always check the kitchen before going to bed or leaving the home to make sure all stoves, ovens, and small appliances are turned off.
• Install a smoke alarm near the kitchen, on each level of the home, near sleeping areas, and inside and outside bedrooms. Use the test button to check it each month. Replace all batteries at least once a year.
Another helpful step is to download the Red Cross First Aid app, which puts expert advice for everyday emergencies in someone’s hand. Available for iPhone and Android devices, the official Red Cross First Aid app gives instant access to the information needed to handle the most common first aid emergencies.
With videos, interactive quizzes and simple step-by-step advice it’s now easier to know first aid.
House fires are the worst disaster threat to families in the United States. To learn how to prevent a fire in the home and how to keep members of the household safe, people can download the Red Cross Fire Prevention and Safety Checklist at redcross.org/images/MEDIA_CustomProductCatalog/m4340073_FireSafety.pdf.