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Cooking safety: Don't let a kitchen fire ruin your holiday

Cooking safety: Don't let a kitchen fire ruin your holiday

The long, Christmas weekend is here and millions of families will come together in homes across the country.

However, in the midst of all that holiday cheer, it can be a dangerous threat if you're not careful.

Cooking-related fires are the number one cause of house fires throughout the year.

During the holidays the risk spikes.

In Escambia County, it's no different.

For instance, firefighters at Escambia County Fire Rescue (ECFR) station three hang out around the kitchen preparing dinner.

It is how most families will spend their time this weekend leading up to holiday celebrations.

Outside the fire station is a reminder of the dangers that lurk in the kitchen.

ECFR Battalion Chief Dan Brask said, "You get about a 50 to 58 percent increase and actually Christmas Day and Christmas Eve in overall fire activity and that's just associated with the extra cooking activities that take place in the home."

The "Keep the Wreath Green" campaign promoting fire safety is in full swing.

Each red bulb represents a house fire in the county. So far seven homes have been damaged. Seven families displaced.

The cause of three of the fires is related to unattended cooking.

The others are still under investigation.

"Also sometimes people are trying new things so that people that aren't normally really good cooks maybe trying to become good cooks at that moment," Brask said.

In addition, Brask said people get distracted by holiday activities which can pull them from the kitchen for extended periods of time.

Cooking oils are also largely to blame.

"If you're able to, when you cook, is to have some type of lid readily accessible so you can take that lid and reduce the amount of oxygen that that fire is trying to get in order to grow and put the lid over whatever pot or pan that you're cooking with to stuff the fire out," Brask said.

If a cooking fire gets out of control, Brask recommends everyone in the home get out and call 911.

"Unfortunately cooking fires are going to happen regardless," Brask said. "Fires are going to happen regardless of people's best efforts so we're always compassionate towards that. It's an unfortunate fact of life."

Brask said people should set alarms on their phones anytime they're cooking and dealing with holiday-related activities.

The alarms will remind them to go check their food regularly.

Also, make sure the home has working smoke detectors.

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