Travis Williams – State Farm


Oil and water do not mix.

You’ve heard it a thousand times. But unfortunately, this common knowledge is often forgotten in the heat of the moment.

A State Farm customer in Atlanta recently left a pan on the stove unattended, and it caught fire. They forgot the adage and attempted to put out the fire by throwing water on it. While nobody was hurt, the damage increased.

“The result was $9,000 in insured damages to the stove, cabinets, counter tops and floor,” said their agent Ken Anderson, of Alpharetta, Georgia. “You should never use water to try and put out a grease fire.”

It could have been worse. The average State Farm cooking/grease fire claim in the U.S. was more than $48,000 in 2018.

Georgia is the top state for cooking fire losses. Anderson has seen at least two dozen cooking-related fire claims in his 38 years as an agent. Many were made worse when oil and water mixed.
According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), cooking is the leading cause of home fires. One out of three home fires begins in the kitchen – more than any other place in the home. Unattended cooking is the number one cause of kitchen fires. NFPA data shows that Thanksgiving is the peak day for home cooking fires.

The oil and water pitfalls are not reserved to the kitchen. Last year, around Thanksgiving, one of Ken’s customers attempted to fry a frozen turkey. In addition to not having thawed the bird, the customer had too much oil in the fryer. When he dropped the turkey in, the hot oil spilled over, leaving him with second degree burns and a damaged deck.

Among the advice Ken shares with his customers?

Because many families and friends engage in cooking during the holidays, it is important to follow some basic safety tips:

• Always keep an eye on what you are cooking/frying. Never leave the cooking area unattended.
• Keep anything that can catch fire — oven mitts, wooden utensils, food packaging, towels or curtains — away from your stovetop.
• Keep a lid beside the pan when cooking. If a fire starts, slide the lid over the pan and turn off the burner. Never throw water on a grease fire.
• Keep a fire extinguisher approved for cooking or grease fires nearby. Make sure your smoke alarms are working.

How to prepare for a home fire evacuation plan with your family!

Preparing your family with a safe escape route and clear instructions can be a lifesaver in the case of an emergency.
If a fire strikes in your home, you won’t have much time to react. Smoke inhalation can overwhelm a child or adult in less than two minutes. Be prepared by making a fire evacuation plan with your family so everyone makes it out of the house quickly and safely.

A Map, a Plan, an Assignment

First, sketch a map of your house’s floor plan. Hold a family meeting, and familiarize your children with the map by pointing out where each room in the house is. Pasting a photo of each family member inside his or her respective bedroom on the map may help younger children. Once your children understand the map, draw a red line from each room to show the exit route. If possible, draw an alternate route out of each room through a window, in case the primary route is blocked. Then designate a meeting place outside for the family to gather that is a safe distance away from the house, such as the mailbox, and draw that place on the map. Post the evacuation plan on the refrigerator to keep it fresh in your family’s mind.

Everyone in your family should have an assignment or responsibility in the event of an evacuation. Younger children should only focus on getting out according to the exit route. Have an adult account for the children and any pets getting out safely. Children who are old enough can be placed in charge of calling 9-1-1 once they are outside, or alerting a neighbor to call. This will help them see that they are an important part of the plan, and they need to take it seriously.

Teach Safety Techniques

Define, step-by-step, what you expect your children to do. Teach them to stay low to the floor, moving on their hands and knees, if there is smoke in their room. To avoid inhalation, instruct them to cover their face with a pillowcase or shirt. Show them how to crawl over to their bedroom door and touch the doorknob first. If it’s hot, they should stand by their window and wave a shirt. If it’s not hot, they should proceed out the door and exit the house to the meeting place outside. They should never attempt to pick up toys and personal possessions, or look for their parents, siblings, or pets. Sticking to the evacuation plan to get out safely is most important.

Conduct Drills

Let your children hear what a smoke detector going off sounds like. Tell them to follow the fire escape plan whenever they hear the smoke detector beeping. Practice this with periodic fire drills. Activate the smoke detector and work with your children so they don’t forget what they are supposed to do.

If they are having trouble, show them the map and repeat the plan until they have mastered it. With enough drills, you can avoid panic and confusion if a real fire strikes in the home.