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Some Safety Tips for the Holiday Season

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Emergency service officials are reminding residents to be safe this holiday season – especially when cooking.

According to a report from the National Fire Protection Association – U.S. fire departments responded to more than 1,500 home cooking fires on Thanksgiving Day in 2016.

Officials say a variety of factors during the holiday season contribute to an increased risk of an accident.

That’s why fire departments across the state and the American Red Cross are reminding residents to follow several safety tips when cooking today.

Coralie Matayoshi is the CEO of the Hawaii Chapter of the American Red Cross.

Matayoshi says to regularly check on food that is simmering, baking, roasting or anything on high heat.

More safety tips and a first aid guide is available in a free app from the American Red Cross – just text “Get First” to 90999.

Here are a few additional tips from the Honolulu Fire Department:

  • If you have a small (grease) cooking fire on the stove and decide to fight the fire, smother the flames by sliding a lid over the pan and turning off the burner.  Leave the pan covered until it is completely cooled.  For an oven fire, turn off the heat and keep the door closed.
  • If you are cooking a turkey using a disposable aluminum pan, consider doubling up and using two pans to avoid a puncture, as dripping turkey juices can cause an oven fire.

A favorite local holiday tradition is the preparation of kalua turkeys and other delicious dishes in an imu.  Hundreds of these underground ovens are lit every holiday season. The wood fires used to heat the imu may cause concern due to the large amount of smoke that may be produced initially.  To help make your imu a success, the HFD reminds you to observe the following county fire code requirements:
•           Obtain approval from the owner, operator, or manager of the property where you plan to light an imu fire.

•           Dig your imu where its fire cannot accidentally spread and create a fire hazard.

•           Avoid placing your imu where its smoke will blow into or across homes.

•           Notify the HFD’s Fire Communication Center prior to lighting your imu fire.  In Honolulu, the number to call is 723-FIRE (723-3473).

Casey Harlow is an HPR reporter and occasionally fills in as local host of Morning Edition and All Things Considered. Contact him at charlow@hawaiipublicradio.org or on Twitter (@CaseyHarlow).
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