Home Help: Kitchen fires spike during holiday season

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Tip of the Week

During the holidays, more Americans spend time in the kitchen preparing meals for family and friends. That additional kitchen time also means added risk of home fires. According to claims data from Liberty Mutual Insurance, three times more fires occur on Thanksgiving and Christmas than on any other days of the year.

All home chefs should follow these simple fire-safety tips:

1. Stay in the kitchen. Don't leave the kitchen when you are frying, broiling or grilling. If you leave the kitchen even for a brief time, be sure to turn off all the burners on the stovetop. 

2. Set a timer as a reminder that the range or stove is on. Ranges were involved in three of every five home cooking fires in 2011, with ovens accounting for 16 percent of home fires. Check your food frequently, and use a timer to remind yourself that the range, stove or oven is on.

3. Keep anything that can catch on fire away from the stovetop. Pot holders, oven mitts, wooden utensils, paper or plastic bags, food packaging, towels and other flammable objects should be kept a safe distance from the stovetop.

4. Keep a lid or cookie sheet, baking soda and oven mitt nearby when you're cooking to use in case of a grease fire. Fire extinguisher use without training can cause a grease fire to spread and increase the chances of serious injury.

5. Ensure your smoke alarm is fully functional before the holiday cooking season begins. Install a photoelectric smoke alarm (or one having a hush button feature) that is at least 10 feet away from your kitchen and use the test button to check it each month. Replace the battery at least once per year and never disable a smoke alarm.

- Brandpoint
 
Home-Selling Tip

When selling a home, presentation is the first key to receiving a higher offer. Professional landscaping and interior staging will ensure your house stands out from the crowd and can result in an offer that is as much as 15 percent more than if you do not properly present your home, according to James Harner, author of  the new book “Up Sell Your Home in Any Market.”

- Brandpoint
 
Did You Know

In the kitchen, dangerous cooking behaviors like disabling fire alarms and leaving cooking food unattended not only risks the safety of your loved ones, but it can result in significant economic repercussions. In 2011, cooking was involved in an estimated 156,300 home structure fires, and caused 470 deaths, 5,390 injuries and $1 billion in direct property damage, according to the National Fire Protection Association.

Decorating Tip

When looking to transform your home, elements such as doors, ceilings and trim are perfect places to create a wow factor with well-placed splashes of color.  Boost curb appeal by inviting guests into your home with a bold orange or red front door. To make a space feel expansive, consider a colorful ceiling. To give your interior a twist of modern luxury, opt for white trim with a hint of gray or taupe. 

- Brandpoint
 
Garden Guide

During cold winter months, suet is an essential source of energy for birds. Suet bird feeders can range from a simple mesh onion bag to a wire or plastic mesh box that affixes to a tree or post. Woodpeckers, warblers, nuthatches, titmice, jays and chickadees love suet.

- Brandpoint 
 
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