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Fire marshal gives safety advice ahead of holiday cooking and decorating


Thanksgiving is the peak day for home cooking fires, followed by Christmas and Christmas Eve. Fire officials want to make sure everyone knows what they need to keep they safe while cooking and decorating for the holidays.

Matt Luetkemeyer, assistant state fire marshal, says people should be using the next few days before the holiday cooking to make sure they have a working fire extinguisher in their home and check smoke alarms/carbon monoxide detectors.

While cooking meals, Luetkemeyer says it's important to stay attentive especially if children are in the home.

"Make sure number one that you attend that cooking doesn't ever leave anything in the oven or on the stove unattended," Luetkemeyer said. "Don't leave your home with anything still cooking, make sure you're keeping an eye on it. Also, you want to make sure that you are keeping things safe for children that you have your pans that are on the stove, keep the handles turned in so children can't reach those items and spill anything off with the stovetops."

If something goes wrong and a fire does start while you're cooking, you should not put water on a grease fire. Luetkemeyer says it's important to make sure to use a fire extinguisher or put a wet rag to put over a stovetop fire, plus if you have a fire in your oven, just close the oven door. After that, get out of the house and make sure to contact your local fire department if necessary.

Thanksgiving is also a time that multiple dishes are cooking at once.

"As you use those different electrical devices like roasters or crock pots you want to make sure you're not overloading any circuits in your house," Luetkemeyer said.

People may also be decorating during this time of year. Luetkemeyer said overloading circuits can also be an issue during this process.

"If they've been in a box for the last year or more than you want to make sure that before you plug it in or put them in your house or hang them anywhere that you're inspecting those cores and making sure there aren't any frayed wires, or anything dangerous about the devices themselves," Luetkemeyer said.

About 44% of decoration fires started because the item was too close to a heat source like a candle or equipment.

Candles are also a concern around the winter months. Luetkemeyer says along with many other Christmas decorations, it's important not to leave the candle burning inside the home or around children that are unattended. "If you go to bed or leave make sure that candles are out and electrical devices are turned off," Luetkemeyer said.

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Chanel Porter

Chanel joined ABC 17 News in January 2021 after graduating from Penn State University. She enjoys traveling and a daily iced coffee.


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