Are you prepared to prevent a Thanksgiving house fire? - KYTX CBS 19 Tyler Longview News Weather Sports

Are you prepared to prevent a Thanksgiving house fire?

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TYLER (KYTX) - During the holidays, house fires increase by 23 percent across the nation, and with cold temperatures sticking around this Thanksgiving, staying warm could come at a cost.

While you're at home enjoying Thanksgiving with your family this week, firefighters across East Texas will be ready to work. Thanksgiving is still the number one day out of the whole year for house fires.

The holiday in Leanne Volkert's house will be very different this year.

"Difficult and better, because we know what the value of the holiday is," she says.

In August, Volkert and her family became homeless after their home burned to the ground. They got out in time, but lost everything but the pajamas they were wearing.

"The breaker box blew up in our face, so I know where it came from, but I don't know. It must have just been wiring," she says.

She'll never know what caused the electrical fire, but as the family celebrates Thanksgiving in a new rental house she's not taking any chances, especially in the kitchen where more than 70 percent of Thanksgiving fires start.

Tyler firefighters are spreading the word about some Thanksgiving do's and don'ts. They say, stay in the kitchen the whole time you're cooking. Turn pot and pan handles inward, and don't leave cords dangling where kids can reach them. Set anything flammable far from burners, and don't pour hot grease down the drain. Every year there's a famous fried turkey fail. Your best bet is an oil free fryer.

All of these on Volkert's safety list, but she knows danger lurks outside the kitchen.

"So much has to do with the heaters!"

Space heaters cause tons of house fires, so get a newer model with a tip-over switch. Also, avoid using extension cords. Circuits and breakers can get overloaded.  That's what Volkert thinks happened to her, so she's not risking it again.

"We had an electrician come out to the new place," she says. "They'll do it! the leasing company, they were wonderful. Have yours checked!"

She says being extra careful is worth it.

"'It could happen' is better than, 'It did happen, and now there's nothing.'"

Another thing you need to do is check those smoke detectors in your house. Make sure the batteries are fresh. If not, switch them out. Smoke detectors are proven to save lives in house fires.

Tyler Fire Marshal Paul Findley stresses the importance of planning and practicing an escape plan with your family, just in case there is a fire.
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