Media Contact: Ruby Ramirez
(ATLANTA, Nov. 17, 2021) — As we head into the holidays, the Georgia Red Cross urges families across the state to enjoy a safe and happy holiday season by brushing up on home fire safety. Along with an increase in festivities and holiday cheer, this is also a time of year when we see a big spike in home fires across the state and country.
According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), home fires triple on Thanksgiving and double on Christmas Day and Christmas Eve. Here in Georgia, Red Cross volunteers responded to 556 home fires and assisted nearly 2,400 individuals or 800 families during the holiday months of November and December in 2020.
“Home fires are a real threat across our state during the holiday season,” said LaToysa Rooks, Interim Regional Disaster Officer for the American Red Cross of Georgia. “Year after year, we see home cooking as one of the primary culprits for home fires on Thanksgiving and Christmas. The Georgia Red Cross is urging families to take few simple and preventative steps to keep your holiday festivities from going from joyful to tragic.”
To help keep you and your loved ones safe this Thanksgiving and Christmas, the American Red Cross of Georgia offers 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 or dangling sleeves 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.
- Turn pot handles to the back of the stove, so no one bumps them or pulls them over.
- Use a timer to remind yourself that the stove or oven is on. Check the kitchen before going to bed or leaving home to ensure all stoves, ovens, and small appliances are turned off.
- As we continue to navigate through the pandemic, celebrating with the people you live with is the safest choice. If you do celebrate with people who don’t live with you, gatherings and activities held outdoors are safer than indoor gatherings.
- Do not attend or host a holiday gathering if you are sick or have symptoms of COVID-19.
In addition to home cooking fires peeking through the holidays, December is one of the biggest months for home candle fires. If your family is decorating with candles this holiday season, consider using the battery-operated kind. If you must use candles, keep them away from anything that could burn, and place them out of reach of pets and children. Never leave burning candles unattended.
Here are a few additional steps your family can take to help keep holiday décor festive and not hazardous:
- Check all holiday light cords to ensure they aren’t frayed or broken. Don’t string too many strands of lights together — no more than three per extension cord.
- Turn off all holiday lights when going to bed or leaving the house.
- Ensure outside decorations are for outdoor use and fasten lights securely to your home or trees. If using hooks or nails outside, make sure they are insulated to avoid an electrocution or fire hazard.
- If buying an artificial tree, look for a fire-resistant label. When putting it up, keep it away from fireplaces, radiators, and other sources of heat. Never use electric lights on metallic trees.
- If getting a live tree, make sure it’s fresh and keep it watered. To test if the tree is fresh, bend the needles up and down to make sure no needles fall off.
- Don’t light the fireplace if hanging stockings or other decorations on the mantel.
- Check the labels of older decorations. Some older tinsel is lead-based. If using angel hair, wear gloves to avoid irritation. Avoid breathing in artificial snow.
- If using a ladder, be extra careful. Make sure to have good, stable placement and wear shoes that allow for good traction.
- You can also help keep your family safe by testing your smoke alarms monthly and practicing 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 our free Emergency app and free Red Cross First Aid app for instant access on how to control bleeding, help someone who is choking, and other scenarios. Search “American Red Cross” in-app stores.
About the American Red Cross:
The American Red Cross shelters, feeds, and provides comfort to victims of disasters; supplies about 40% of the nation's blood; teaches skills that save lives; distributes international humanitarian aid; and supports veterans, military members, and their families. The Red Cross is a nonprofit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to deliver its mission. For more information, please visit redcross.org or CruzRojaAmericana.org, or visit us on Twitter at @RedCross.