On November 25, CBS Chicago and the Red Cross of Greater Chicago will hold the third annual CBS Chicago Cares Telethon. To donate, visit cbschicago.com/redcross. You can also donate by calling 855.350.2900 or texting REDCROSS to 90999 (Phone lines will be open only on November 25, 2014). Here, the Red Cross shares the best ways to prevent fires over Thanksgiving. 

By American Red Cross

CHICAGO— Millions of people will travel to spend their Thanksgiving holiday with loved ones and the American Red Cross has steps they can follow to help make sure they have a safe trip.

The holiday is also a time when cooks spend a lot of time in the kitchen and there are tips they can use to avoid a cooking fire while whipping up their Thanksgiving dinner.

“The Thanksgiving holiday is one of the busiest times of the year for travelers and we want to make sure everyone remains safe on their trip,” said Martha Carlos, Chief Communications Officer, American Red Cross of Chicago and Northern Illinois. Cooking is the number one cause of home fires, so we also have information cooks can follow to avoid a fire.” A recent Red Cross survey revealed that nearly one in five Americans (16 percent) admit to leaving food cooking unattended on the stove — a major cause of kitchen fires. Tips to avoid cooking fires include:

COOKING SAFETY Cooks should avoid wearing loose clothing or dangling sleeves while preparing the holiday meal. Never leave the stove unattended – if the cook has to leave the kitchen even for a short time, they should turn off the stove. More cooking safety steps are:

• Stay in the kitchen when you are frying, grilling or broiling food. If you leave the kitchen even for a short period of time, turn off the stove.
• Keep young children and pets at least three feet away from the stove.
• Move items that can burn away from the stove such as dishtowels, bags and boxes.
• Clean the stove and the area around it before turning on the heat.
• Don’t leave food on the stove unattended.
• Turn pot handles to the back of the stove to avoid spills.
• Check food regularly.
• Use a timer as a reminder that the stove or oven is on.
• Keep children and pets away from the cooking area.
• Keep anything that can catch fire – pot holders, oven mitts, wooden utensils, paper or plastic bags, food packaging, and towels or curtains—away from the stove, oven or any other appliance in the kitchen that generates heat.
• Clean cooking surfaces on a regular basis to prevent grease buildup.
• Consider purchasing a fire extinguisher to keep in the kitchen.
• Always check the kitchen before going to bed or leaving the home to make sure all stoves, ovens, and small appliances are turned off

IF A COOKING FIRE OCCURS If a pan catches fire, don’t move it. Slide a pan lid or cookie sheet on top of the pan to put out the fire. Turn off the heat. Keep the lid on the pan until it cools. Never try to stop a grease or oil fire with water – it will fuel the fire.

• If something catches fire in the oven, keep the door closed. Call 9-1-1 so firefighters can make sure the fire didn’t spread to the walls. If a fire occurs in the microwave, keep the door closed and unplug the microwave if you can. Don’t use it again until a repairman checks it.
• If the kitchen catches fire, make sure everyone gets out and call 9-1-1 when outside. Once outside, stay out. Never go back inside a burning building.
• Download the Red Cross First Aid App at redcross.org/apps to get access to life-saving information on what to do for common, everyday first aid emergencies including burns.

TRAVEL SAFETY If plans include driving, travelers should check the weather along their route and plan for travel around any storms that may be coming. Everyone should use their seat belts and no one should drink and drive. Drivers should be well rested and alert and give their full attention to the road – no cell phones. Other driving safety tips include:

• Follow the rules of the road – observe the speed limit.
• Use caution in work zones.
• Make frequent stops. During long trips, rotate drivers.
• Don’t follow another vehicle too closely.
• Clean your headlights, taillights, signal lights and windows to help you see, especially at night.
• Turn your headlights on as dusk approaches, or if you are using your windshield wipers due to inclement weather.

“People can also download the Red Cross First Aid App to have information at their fingertips if an emergency occurs,” said Carlos. “They can find out how more about all of the Red Cross apps at redcross.org/apps.”