CSRA (WJBF) – This week is Fire Prevention Week.

With colder temperatures and holiday gatherings upon us, fire professionals tell us how to prevent a fire emergency.

This year’s Fire Prevention Week focuses on cooking safety. Cooking fires are the leading cause of home fires.

“The Red Cross knows that home fires are the most prevalent disasters that we have- more than floods, more than hurricanes, more than tornadoes,” said Susan Everitt, executive director of The American Red Cross of East Central Georgia. “Because they happen everyday throughout the whole year.”

Here at home, efforts to help the community prevent home fires are underway: the Red Cross of East Central Georgia partners with the Augusta Fire Department to install free smoke alarms on Saturday in the Harrisburg community. 

“We do a mass smoke alarm installation,” said Everitt. “So we literally just go and knock on doors, say ‘you need a smoke alarm’ and we’ll install it for you. And everything is for free.”

And the GVW Fire Department will host an open house and its own Smoke Detector Blitz in the coming days.

Chief Charles Alan Kneece says that people should always cook with caution. “Especially when visitors come in, family members we haven’t seen in a while,” said Chief Kneece. “We may want to sit down and talk with those people. But we still want to make sure that we stay vigilant- we don’t leave anything that we’re cooking unattended that could, may start a fire. So, we want to make sure that we have someone there watching it at all times.”

He tells us smoke detectors should also be tended to regularly. “Test your smoke detectors monthly. Change your batteries out at least twice a year – when we change our clocks.”

Everitt tells us that there are two other top reasons for home fires. “Number two is leaving a lit candle someplace,” said Everitt. “And number three is some sort of faulty wiring. You can’t always know about number three. But you can know not to leave your kitchen unattended and not to leave candles lit and unattended.”

For more on the GVW Fire Department’s upcoming events, call the GVW Fire Department at (803) 663-3796.  For information on how to volunteer for Red Cross’s ‘Sound the Alarm’ event, visit redcross.org/volunteer.