Red Cross Warns Community about Cooking Fires

With Thanksgiving approaching, the American Red Cross is advising people to be cautious when cooking.

Local Red Cross chapters are urging everyone to help save lives by being prepared for home fires while cooking this Thanksgiving.

“Cooking fires are the number one cause of home fires and home fire injuries,” said Steve Hansen, Northeast Wisconsin Regional Chapter Executive. “Having a working smoke alarms provides a few minutes of advance warning in the event of a home fire, and that extra time can save lives.”

To prevent cooking fires this holiday, follow these tips:

  • Never leave cooking food unattended.
  • Stay in the kitchen when you are frying, grilling, or broiling food. If you must leave the kitchen for even a short period of time, turn off the stove.
  • If you are simmering, baking, boiling, or roasting food, check it regularly, remain in the home while food is cooking, and use a timer to remind yourself that the stove or oven is on.
  • Avoid wearing loose clothing or dangling sleeves while cooking.
  • Keep kids away from cooking areas by enforcing a “kid-free zone” of three feet around the stove.
  • Keep anything that can catch on fire—pot holders, oven mitts, wooden utensils, paper or plastic bags, food packaging, and towels or curtains—away from your stove top and oven or any other appliance in the kitchen that generates heat.
  • Clean cooking surfaces on a regular basis to prevent grease buildup.
  • Consider purchasing a fire extinguisher to keep in your kitchen. Contact your 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.
  • Smoke alarms save lives. Install a smoke alarm near your kitchen, on each level of your home, near sleeping areas, and inside and outside bedrooms if you sleep with doors closed. Use the test button to check it each month. Replace all batteries at least twice a year.

The Red Cross also recommends families create and practice a home fire escape plan, which should include at least two escape routes for every room in the home. Families should choose a convenient meeting place outside of the home and practice their escape plan at least twice a year with all family members.

Nationally, the Red Cross responds to thousands of local fires throughout the country every year. In the past year, the Northeast Wisconsin Red Cross Chapters responded to 163 local disasters, most of which were residential fires – which is nearly one every other day.

The Red Cross reminds people of the following fire safety tips they should take:

If a fire occurs, get out and stay out.  Call the fire department from a cell phone or neighbor’s home.

  • If smoke or fire blocks the first escape route, use a second way.  If someone must exit through smoke, they should crawl low under the smoke to the exit.  If escaping through a closed door, feel the door before opening it.  If the door is warm, get out a different way.
  • If smoke, heat, or flames block the way out, stay in the room with the door closed. Signal for help using a brightly colored cloth at the window. If there is a telephone in the room, call the fire department and tell them the location

Visit www.redcross.org/homefires for more information on how to prevent home fires. People can help those affected by home fires and other emergencies by making a financial gift to the American Red Cross.

 About the Northeast Wisconsin Region:

The Northeast Wisconsin American Red Cross is a regional grouping of four chapters serving 20 counties with a mission to prevent, prepare for and respond to disasters throughout the East Central Wisconsin, Lakeland, Outagamie and Scenic Shores Chapters. To learn more about Red Cross programs, volunteer opportunities, and how you can help, contact the Northeast region at 920-231-3590 or visit www.NewRedCross.org. Find us on Twitter and Facebook at @NEWRedCross.

 About the American Red Cross:

The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies nearly half of the nation’s blood; teaches lifesaving skills; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a charitable organization — not a government agency — and depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit www.redcross.org or join our blog at http://blog.redcross.org.

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