• 68°

Officials urge holiday safety

As families begin to prepare their Thanksgiving feasts, Troy Fire Marshal brandy Cox is reminding residents to be safe when cooking to prevent fires.

“One of the biggest hazards this time of year is cooking fires,” Cox said. “A lot of fires happen this time of year because of cooking incidents.”

Thanksgiving is the peak day of the year for home cooking fires, followed by the night before Thanksgiving, according to the U.S. Fire Administration (USFA). In 2015, the most recent year for which statistics are available, fire departments across the country responded to an estimated 1,760 home cooking fires on Thanksgiving, the USFA reports.

One of the most dangerous aspects of Thanksgiving cooking, Cox said, is deep-frying a turkey.

“Make sure the turkey is completely thawed and dried before you begin to cook it,” Cox said. “You also may want to keep the fryer off of a deck outside of a garage, a safe distance from the building and other structure. Use a smaller bird to fry over 12 pounds is a little on the large side. I would turn the burner off when you begin to lower the turkey into the boil until submerged so if you overfill the container with cooking oil and it happens to run over, it won’t ignite and cause an issue.”

Cox said if a grease fire does occur, water should not be poured on it. Instead, Cox said a fire extinguisher should be kept nearby to put it out or the fire can be smothered with a pot lid or doused with baking soda.

Cox also had advice for the Christmas season and the cooler winter days.

“For businesses such as mercantile shops and assembly spaces such as churches and restaurants, the use of live Christmas trees is prohibited,” Cox said. “For residences using live trees, make sure to keep them watered and if the needles are falling off, you may want to consider removing that tree.”

Cox said decorators should also look for UL approved Christmas lights, which he said will be labeled somewhere on the packaging.

Cox also suggested not to plug space heaters into extension cords and to have 36 inches of clearance between the heater and any combustible items.

“We just want people to be safe and enjoy the holiday season,” Cox said.

For more information about holiday safety, contact the Troy Fire Department at 334-566-5943.