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Home cooking fires swell by 250% on Thanksgiving and 59% on Christmas Day in comparison to the daily average.

ATLANTA — While the coronavirus may have changed many of our holiday gatherings, the need to protect ourselves from cooking fires continues. The Georgia Red Cross urges people across the state to enjoy a safe and happy holiday season this year by utilizing five tips to prevent cooking fires, which is the leading cause of home fires across the U.S.

According to the latest report on home cooking fires released by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), the holiday season is the peak for home cooking fires, which swell by 250% on Thanksgiving and 59% on Christmas Day in comparison to the daily average. Across the holiday months of November and December for the past four years (2016-2019), the Georgia Red Cross has responded to nearly 2,200 home and apartment fires and has helped over 9,500 people recover from this type of disaster across the state.

Most often, these emergencies are attributed to unattended cooking — a common behavior shared by nearly 70% of us, as shown in a national American Red Cross survey earlier this year.

To help keep you and your loved ones safe, the Georgia Red Cross urges everyone to follow these safety tips:

♦ Keep an eye on what you fry! Never leave cooking food unattended. If you must leave the kitchen, even for a short period of time, turn off the stove.

♦ Move items that can burn away from the stove. This includes dishtowels, bags, boxes, paper, and curtains. Also keep children and pets at least three feet away.

♦ Avoid wearing loose clothing while cooking.

♦ When frying food, turn the burner off if you see smoke or if the grease starts to boil. Carefully remove the pan from the burner.

♦ Keep a pan lid or a cookie sheet nearby. Use it to cover the pan if it catches on fire. This will put out the fire. Leave the pan covered until it is completely ♦ cooled.

Also, remember to test your smoke alarms monthly and practice your home fire escape plan until everyone can get out in less than two minutes — the amount of time you may have to get out of a burning home before it’s too late.

Visit redcross.org/fire for more information, including an escape plan to practice with your family. You can also download the free Red Cross Emergency app (search “American Red Cross” in app stores).

For COVID-19 safety tips, visit redcross.org/coronavirus.

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Senior Reporter

Born and raised in Decatur, Ga. Graduated from Shorter College in Rome, Ga. in 1979 with B.A. in Communications. Worked in community newspapers for 26 years. Started at Rockdale Citizen/Newton Citizen in January 2016.

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