About a half dozen residential fires in the past two months have been caused by unattended cooking, according to the Valdosta Fire Department.

These fires have displaced several people from their homes. And with some of the cooking-related fires happening in apartment complexes, the incidents could have been worse and had far more tragic consequences.

The Valdosta Fire Department even released safety tips to help prevent cooking-related fires.

“Fire safety in the kitchen is so important for residents to consider because we spend the majority of our time inside of our homes,” Sherina Ferrell, VFD fire life safety educator, said in a statement. “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.”

We urge our readers 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.

A little more attention, a few more precautions, may prevent cooking fires and keep residents and residences safe.

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