VALDOSTA – Due to the rise in kitchen fires in the city, the Valdosta Fire Department is offering cooking safety tips in hopes of alleviating the issue. 

In December, there were four cooking-related fires reported, city officials said in a statement. Sherina Ferrell, VFD fire life safety educator, said she hopes educating the public on proper cooking etiquette can significantly reduce the number of cooking-related incidents. 

"Fire safety in the kitchen is so important for residents to consider because we spend the majority of our time inside of our homes," Ferrell said. "COVID has increased the time we spend at home with children doing virtual learning and adults working from home. We get so caught up doing multiple things and we forget that we are busy. Fires can occur quickly. We need to think about safety precautions at all times because we never know when it may happen."

City officials urge people to review the tips provided by VFD to help prevent kitchen fires.

– Never leave cooking food unattended. Stay in the kitchen while frying, grilling or broiling. If leaving, even for a short time, turn off the stove.

– If simmering, baking, roasting or boiling food, check it regularly, remain in the home while food is cooking, and use a timer as a cooking reminder.

– Be alert when cooking. People won't be vigilant if sleepy, have taken medicine or drugs or consumed alcohol.

– Always keep an oven mitt and pan lid nearby when cooking. If a small grease fire starts, slide the lid over the pan to smother the flame. Turn off the burner and leave the pan covered until it is completely cool.

– Have a "kid-free zone" of at least three feet around the stove and areas where hot food or drink is prepared or carried.

– Make sure the home has working smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. Be sure to check these items' function at least twice annually or every time daylight savings occurs.

– Make sure home is equipped with a working fire extinguisher. Check the function of the fire extinguisher at least once a year. 

– Always have an evacuation plan in place. Be sure to designate a meeting place after the evacuation and practice the plan as a family monthly. 

– To report a fire, call 911. 

For more information on fire safety, contact Ferrell, (229) 333-1835 or sferrell@valdostacity.com.

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