Red Cross Volunteers on-call this Christmas as house fires go up

Local News

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) – There are more fires during the holiday season than there are any other time of the year. Experts say that is due to more cooking at home and, of course, heating their spaces.

When it comes to kitchen safety, it’s important to keep looking at what you’re cooking and keep an eye on what you fry as it only takes a few seconds for devastation to strike.

Tony Driscoll, a retired firefighter and now Red Cross Volunteer, said he’s seen it all, and during the last few months of the year, the threat of fires increase. Driscoll said the most important things you can do is to have a fire extinguisher near and that smoke detectors can make the difference between saving your home and losing everything.  

We’ve been to so many homes where they were like oh yeah, I have two smoke detectors, but they are dead batteries or they never tested them, I mean it’s unbelievable and they feel comfortable that they have one smoke detector. But they need a smoke detector in every single bedroom and outside of the kitchen area. And it’s such an easy way to save a life.  

Michelle Van Der Mey, Red Cross Volunteer 

Michelle Van Der Mey is also a Red Cross Volunteer, and while both her and Driscoll are on call Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, they said they wouldn’t want it any other way. “They need help, emotional support, and with the home fires these people have nowhere to go, how can I, when the phone rings, I know someone else needs me more than I need myself.”

Cooking Safety Tips from NCFD:

  • Keep looking at what your cooking, especially keeping an eye on what you fry • Have an extinguisher near the kitchen and know how to use it
  • NEVER use water on an oil/grease fire
  • If you have a small grease cooking fire and decide to fight the fire…
    • On the stovetop, 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 have any doubt about fighting a small fire…  Just get out! When you leave, close the door behind you to help contain the fire.
    • Call 9-1-1 or the local emergency number from outside the home.
  • Keep anything that can catch fire like oven mitts, wooden utensils, food packaging, towels or curtains away from your stovetop.
  • Smoke alarms save lives! Make sure you have working smoke alarms in your home. Smoke alarms over 10 years old should be replaced. 

The Red Cross does need more volunteers this holiday season, for more on how you can assist them, click here.

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