The holidays are a time for celebration and community. Gatherings filled with laughter and love, memories and special recipes. But bringing together our families and preparing large meals can expose our homes to dangers of fire and safety like no other time of the year. With an average of 455 daily fires, cooking is the leading cause of home fires and home fire injuries, according to the National Fire Protection Association. We also have general home safety matters that can impact a great time with family and friends. As we enter the holiday season, a few easy steps and precautions can get you and your home ready for a safe Thanksgiving.
Did You Know?
Thanksgiving is the leading day of the year for home fires involving cooking equipment. It is second to Christmas and Christmas Eve with four times as many cooking fires as any typical day of the year. In 2015, U.S. fire departments responded to approximately 1,760 home cooking fires on Thanksgiving day (source: www.nfpa.org). It’s easy to get distracted or try to save time by setting timers to bake while we are away, but these kinds of small changes in our habits can lead to fires.
Tips to Stay Safe While Cooking
There are some simple steps you can take to ensure that you and your family are safe during the cooking festivities this Thanksgiving season. Use these tips to get started and stay safe:
- Don’t leave cooking unattended. Unattended cooking fires are by far the leading cause of danger.
- Check your cooking equipment and don’t overload electrical circuits. Cooking equipment was involved in nearly half of all reported home fires in recent years.
- Create safe spaces for children that keep them at least 3 feet away from stoves. Remember, cooking turkey and pies and other holiday treats keeps your stove on longer and at higher temperatures than most other days of the year. Special precautions to keep children safe and occupied away from the cooking is a simple safety step.
- Give careful attention to electrical cords from mixers, coffee makers, electric knives, plate warmers, and other equipment to make sure they are stowed safely and not dangling where movement could knock them off counters.
- Keep matches and utility lighters locked in a high cabinet and only light candles with adults present at all times. Candle wax and flames can easily catch tablecloths, napkins, and other flammable surfaces on fire with little warning.
- Finally, make sure to test your smoke alarms before you start cooking, simply push the test button and make sure the alarm chirps as needed, just in case a fire does occur.
Other Ways to Keep Your Home Safe
Cooking poses one real set of dangers, but holidays also open our homes up to other dangers, sometimes without us even realizing our actions are increasing our risks. Here are a few additional tips to help keep your home and guests safe this holiday season:
- Keep exterior doors locked at all times. It can be tempting to leave a key or door unlocked for the arrival of out of town guests, but thieves know the tricks and can easily gain entry in this manner. Instead, consider installing code-driven locks so that you can share a code with guests or arrange to have a neighbor hold onto a key for easy transfer when guests arrive.
- Plan for packages and keep them inside. With the advent of Amazon and other delivery services, it is more common to see boxes and items left on front porches or near doorways. If you are receiving a package, plan on having a neighbor keep an eye out so that your package can be taken indoors efficiently or consider having packages delivered to your place of work instead of your home. Packages on porches are tempting for those with ill intent and monitoring cameras and other devices to help ensure your porches are safe can add to your stress.
- Install motion-detection lighting and regularly keep exterior lights on. With the time change and darker hours earlier, it is easy for those with bad intentions to feel safer under the cloak of darkness. Disturb their sense of safety, and they will look for another home to target. Lighting is the easiest way to bring quick attention to anyone who comes on your porches or in your yard. Make your porch and yard a place that feels like they would be seen and thieves will move on.
Of course, keeping your home safe is about so much more than just fire prevention and locked doors. Your home is a place of memories and safety, family, and friends. And no one understands how to turn a house into a home better than a realtor like me. For nearly 30 years I’ve been helping folks just like you to find, negotiate, stage, and settle into their new houses… that quickly become their homes. Stay safe this Thanksgiving and give me a call at 336-575-7249 when you are ready to buy your next home.
Give me a call when I can help you!! Ellen Dudley, RE/MAX Preferred Properties, 336-575-7249