GAINESVILLE - You may not think of your kitchen as a dangerous place, but Hall County Fire Marshal Scott Cagle said cooking fires are a big problem locally and across the state - and he said those types of fires tend to spike during Thanksgiving.
In fact, Cagle said unattended cooking is the number one cause of residential fires across the country. He said Hall County crews have already battled a couple of kitchen fires this week, and while they turned out to be minor, it's not uncommon for a fire in the kitchen to get away from the cook. He said the most important thing is to pay attention to what you're doing.
"People are cooking things and then they forget what they were doing - what they had on the stove, what they had in the oven - so just try to be mindful of what you're doing no matter how busy the holiday season gets," said Cagle.
He pointed out that people often make the mistake of opening the oven door if something inside the oven catches fire.
"With an oven fire, do not open the door, do not give it [the fire] oxygen. Keep the door closed and call the fire department."
Fire isn't the only issue in the kitchen, noted Cagle. It's not unusual for someone to be injured if there are too many people in the kitchen around cooking sources.
In fact, he said EMTs handled an incident this week involving a 4-year-old child who was in the kitchen.
"The child pulled down a pot of hot water and sustained a very small burn on their shoulder," said Cagle.
While the incident was not serious, Cagle said it could have been much worse.
He also advised keeping pets out of the kitchen, since they can get underfoot and cause a cook to perhaps trip and bump something hot on the stove.
Overall, Cagle said, the goal is safety for homeowners, residents and holiday guests.
"Make sure smoke alarms work. Make sure you have a home escape plan. But, hopefully, if you're cautious you won't have to use them."