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American Red Cross Urges People to Stay Safe When Cooking this Holiday Season

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Home fires can be prevented by following some simple safety tips

The American Red Cross responds to nearly 70,000 disasters a year—one every eight minutes—and most are home fires. Since Friday the Palmetto SC Region of the Red Cross has helped 78 people after home fires. With Thanksgiving just around the corner, the Red Cross encourages families to prevent kitchen fires by taking some basic safety measures.   

“Thanksgiving is a time to enjoy friends, family, and a good meal. Unfortunately we also see a spike in home fires over the holiday and many of those are caused by unattended cooking,” said Louise Welch Williams, regional chief executive officer for the American Red Cross in South Carolina. “The good news is that home fires can be prevented by following some simple, safety tips.”

Tips to avoid cooking fires include:

·         Stay in the kitchen when you are frying, grilling or broiling food. If you leave the kitchen even for a short period of time, turn off the stove.

·         Keep young children and pets at least three feet away from the stove.

·         Move items that can burn away from the stove such as dishtowels, bags and boxes.

·         Clean the stove and the area around it before turning on the heat.

·         Don’t leave food on the stove unattended.

·         Turn pot handles to the back of the stove to avoid spills.

·         Have at least one working smoke alarm on the same floor as your kitchen


IF A COOKING FIRE OCCURS If a pan catches fire, don’t move it. Slide a pan lid or cookie sheet on top of the pan to put out the fire. Turn off the heat. Keep the lid on the pan until it cools. Never try to stop a grease or oil fire with water – it will fuel the fire.


If something catches fire in the oven, keep the door closed. Call 9-1-1 so firefighters can make sure the fire didn’t spread to the walls. If a fire occurs in the microwave, keep the door closed and unplug the microwave if you can. Don’t use it again until a repairman checks it. 

“If the kitchen catches fire, make sure everyone gets out and call 9-1-1 when outside,” State Fire Marshal Bert Polk said. “Once outside, stay outside. Never go back inside a burning building to retrieve an item.” 

RED CROSS APPS People can learn how to help prevent a home fire and what to do if one occurs by downloading the Red Cross Emergency App. Children can earn points and incentives in a fun, gaming environment while learning how to prevent a home fire and other emergencies in the Monster Guard: Prepare for Emergencies App. The First Aid App provides expert advice including what to do for burns, broken bones, and breathing and cardiac emergencies. The apps can be downloaded for free in app stores or at

HOME FIRE CAMPAIGN South Carolina consistently ranks within the top ten states for home fire deaths per capita and the Red Cross assists more than 7,100 people a year, 2,000 of them children, after home fires. 

The American Red Cross and its partners, including the South Carolina Office of State Fire Marshal, the South Carolina Firefighters Association, and local fire departments, are working together to save lives, reduce injuries, and preserve property. Together, they are keeping families safe across South Carolina by installing smoke alarms and teaching people how to lessen their chances of suffering from a home fire. 

The Red Cross and its partners also are asking every household in America to take the two simple steps that can save lives: checking their existing smoke alarms and practicing fire drills at home.


WHAT PEOPLE CAN DO People can visit to find out more about how to protect themselves and their loved homes from fire. To find the location of smoke alarm installation events or to become a volunteer, contact the Lowcountry SC Chapter of the Red Cross at 843-764-2323 or visit People can help by donating to Red Cross Disaster Relief by visiting, calling 1-800-RED CROSS or texting the word REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation. Donations to Disaster Relief will be used to prepare for, respond to and help people recover from disasters big and small. We respond to nearly 70,000 other disasters every year, from home fires to wildfires and more. Learn more about how Disaster Relief donations have helped people affected by previous disasters including home fires.