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Wedding & Event Venue Near Sumter, SC.

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Your Magic Moment Awaits

Your wedding day. Without a doubt, it's one of the most significant events you will ever experience - when you and the love of your life officially seal the deal and get married. On this day, your friends and family will gather to celebrate the next step in your life. Photographers will be running around snapping photos, catering plates delicious food for guests to enjoy, and the DJ sets the mood for a night of fun and libation. You've worked extra hard to make everything look perfect and run smoothly. You have examined every moving part down to the tiniest detail. At the center of all your effort is your wedding venue in Sumter, SC.

Your event space can mean the difference between an unforgettable event and an average occasion. Capturing your uniqueness as a couple is paramount to a memorable wedding. But, without the right venue location and staff, your unforgettable event can turn into a painfully average occasion. Fortunately, at Abney Hall, you won't ever have to worry about dingy reception spaces and crummy chow halls.

Constructed in Sumter, SC, in 1962, Abney Hall is 15,000 square feet and sits on 500 acres of land, making it a large wedding venue unlike any other. Abney Hall was originally the home of Mrs. Josephine Abney, a Sumter native who was a lifelong philanthropist. Mrs. Abney devoted much of her time and effort towards supporting charities, educational institutions, hospitals, and other noble efforts. Today, Abney Hall stands tall as a symbol of love, both in our community and for the couples who choose to get married here.

Abney Hall is an exclusive event experience unlike any other, surrounded by verdant forests and sparkling ponds. Our venue is a natural fit for several occasions, including:

Special Event Space Sumter, SC

Weddings

 Event Venue Sumter, SC

Bridal Showers

 Event Space Sumter, SC

Bridal Portraits

 Rehearsal Dinner Venue Sumter, SC

Rehearsal Dinners

 Bridal Shower Venue Sumter, SC

Corporate Events

 Business Event Space Sumter, SC

Much More!

 Wedding Space Sumter, SC

The Top Wedding Venue in Sumter, SC

The beginning of your life starts at Abney Hall. With our team by your side, we can create the fairy tale wedding you have dreamed about since childhood. Whether you have 100 guests or 1,000, our waterfront ceremony locations and French-inspired courtyard are perfect for your big day. Celebrate in luxurious style surrounded by shady magnolia trees, a private forest, large ponds, and the beauty of Mother Nature. While our venue location and aesthetic have been praised far and wide, so too have the practical aspects of Abney Hall. Looking for a relaxing, comfortable spot for your bridal party to get ready in? We offer an entire floor in the Abney Hall residence to get the bridal party ready. Want to make your groomsman feel extra-special too? We've got a private, plush house just feet from a sparkling pond that is a proper hangout spot for the guys in your group.

To make life easier on you, we also offer Abney Hall as your go-to spot for rehearsal dinners. Why book an expensive restaurant or travel to another location when unmatched beauty and convenience are right at your fingertips? Abney Hall is just the place for that very important dinner the night before your big day. We are also happy to host your bridal shower at Abney Hall. Our venue makes for one of Sumter's most unique bridal shower settings, where your family and friends can gather to give gifts and be merry before you walk down the aisle.

With such a large, magnificent house and a vast property, Abney Hall also makes for an unforgettable location for your bridal portraits and other wedding-related photography needs. Don't take our word for it - book a tour and see for yourself why so many new brides and grooms choose Abney Hall as their wedding venue in Sumter.

 Wedding Venue Sumter, SC

What Sets Abney Hall Apart from Other Wedding Venues in Sumter?

You've already found the person you want to spend the rest of your life beside. The next step? Finding the perfect wedding venue for your ceremony, reception, and celebration of your lifelong commitment to one another. Remember, the backdrop for photos, dancing, eating, and all other activities will be at your wedding venue. That's why we work so hard to set Abney Hall apart from our competitors - so you and your guests can focus on love and living your new life while we work with your vendors and photographers to make your magic night a reality.

Here are just a few reasons why guests choose Abney Hall as their wedding venue in Sumter, SC, along with some helpful tips from our experienced wedding venue staff:

Venue Size

Choosing the appropriate-sied venue for your desired guest count is a critical decision. A venue's capacity affects the number of people you need to consider having at your ceremony and reception. As you're first starting out, we recommend having a guest count in mind as you're searching for the right venue. Try to stick with that number. You may fall in love with a particular venue, but if its max capacity can't accommodate your guest count, it may be time to cross them off your list.

 Corporate Conference Hall Sumter, SC
Abney Hall Pro Tip

Abney Hall Pro Tip:

Keep in mind that this is your big day. You shouldn't feel obligated to invite the college roommate you shared a dorm with for one semester. At the end of the day, your wedding venue should be one that can accommodate those closest to you. Abney Hall is equipped for both small and large weddings, consisting of 500 acres of forest, ponds, and lush natural beauty. Whether you want an intimate wedding with only your best friends or a grand ceremony with hundreds of people, we have the right amount of room to make you comfortable.

Location and Nearby Lodging

On your big day, you're likely to have friends and family traveling in from other parts of the state or country. These folks will need a place to stay during and even after your wedding. Accessibility and ease are important factors when it comes to choosing your wedding venue for both you and your guests.

Located in Sumter, SC, Abney Hall is situated in a memorable, natural setting, giving your wedding a private vibe in the midst of Mother Nature. While we pride ourselves on having a secluded wedding event space, our venue is within an easy driving distance of hotels and vacation rentals.

Abney Hall Pro Tip

Abney Hall Pro Tip:

When you contact us for a tour, make sure to speak with our experienced venue manager about nearby hotels and shuttle service options. We understand that your guest's comfort and convenience are important, and we're happy to work with you to figure out the best way to get your guests to Abney Hall.

Venue Staff

At Abney Hall, our staff has earned its reputation as one of the industry's most friendly, accessible teams. We will provide you with a purpose-minded point of contact that can help answer questions relating to timelines, preferred vendors, and every aspect of your wedding. When you tour our wedding venue in Sumter, SC, for the first time, we want you to feel like you have all the information you need to make an informed purchasing decision.

We would be happy to go over:
  • Venue Pricing
  • Ceremony Specifics
  • Reception Specifics
  • Catering Possibilities
  • Decorating Possibilities
  • Entertainment Options
  • Photography and Photo Opportunities
  • Venue Amenities
  • Bridal Party Needs
  • Groomsman Needs

At Abney Hall, our goal is to be your first resource when it comes to setting up and coordinating the details of your wedding day.

Decor

When it comes to your wedding's decor, you probably already have a few ideas in mind. We love it when our brides and grooms have a vision in mind because one of our greatest joys is turning that vision into a reality. At Abney Hall, our team is available to help you and your decorator fit, accent, and accommodate your fairy-tale wedding - whatever that may be.

Are you looking to dress up your wedding with decorations galore? Just want to add a few accents that tie into your preferred color palette? Abney Hall is versatile and ready to help however we are able.

 Reception Hall Sumter, SC
Abney-Hall-Pro-Tip

Abney Hall Pro Tip:

If you're thinking about bringing in your own greenery, lighting, floral pieces, and more, we recommend discussing your vision with us on your initial tour of our event space. That way, we can get a head start on making your big day exactly how you envision it.

Photo Opportunities

10 years from now, when you and your spouse are celebrating your anniversary, you will pull out photographs from your wedding and will reminisce about the unforgettable time you spent at Abney Hall. Your wedding photos will be with you forever, and as such, we work closely with you and your photographer to suggest extra-special photo op spots that you can only find on Abney Hall grounds.

From the grand staircase and French-inspired courtyard to our manicured gardens and lovely pond, there is no shortage of photo-op locations for your photographer to choose from. As one of the most popular wedding venues in Sumter, SC, we have worked with dozens of photographers over the years.

Our experience has allowed us to cultivate a list of preferred photographers - all of whom have the talent to take your pictures to the next level in a setting they're familiar with. We encourage you to check out our gallery to get a sense of the scope of our wedding venue and gain inspiration from other happy couples.

Abney-Hall-Pro-Tip

Abney Hall Pro Tip

The gallery on our website is extensive but be sure to check out our Facebook and Instagram pages as well. We keep our social pages updated with recent wedding photographs, giving you an incredible resource that you can use for your own photography purposes.

Special Event Space Sumter, SC

The Premier Corporate Event Venue in Sumter, SC

Abney Hall is known across the United States for our stunning weddings, but we also play host to some of the largest corporate events in South Carolina. Why choose a bland, lifeless meeting space when you can enjoy the beauty of Mother Nature coupled with a professional atmosphere? If you have an important team-building event or corporate conference that you have to coordinate, look no further than Abney Hall.

The epitome of class and style, our corporate event space is large, lavish, and chock-full of onsite amenities for you and your co-workers to enjoy. If your team needs a morale boost, don't bring them to the local Olive Garden for a cheap lunch. Treat them to a refreshing experience in our main dining room, where we can work with you to incorporate your catering options with the goals of your event.

When the hard work is done, and your team needs a breather, what better way to relax than with a quick dip in our pool? To burn off a little steam, head over to our brand-new tennis court - the perfect place to get some exercise in an ultra-private setting while you enjoy the sights and sounds of nature. Don't forget to bring your fishing poles for a couple of hours of fishing. There's even an opportunity to go hunting if you wish.

 Event Venue Sumter, SC

Elegance at Its Finest - Only
a Phone Call Away

If you're ready to learn more about Abney Hall as your wedding venue, don't hesitate to reach out. We would love to hear more about your plans, your vision, and your needs. We know that planning a wedding isn't easy. It takes time, attention to detail, and a whole lot of patience. Our goal is to help provide you with all the info you need to learn more about our venue. Once you decide on a date, we'll work closely with you and your vendors to craft a wedding experience that you will treasure for the rest of your life.

Our available dates for your big day are going quick, especially during peak seasons like spring and fall. We look forward to hearing from you soon!

Contact us today for a FREE initial consultation
 Event Space Sumter, SC

Latest News in Sumter, SC

'We need a variety of people to be on that board': Four new members elected to Sumter School Board

Daniel Palumbo, Brittany English, Tarah Johnson, and Jeff Zell are the four newly elected board members to represent Sumter districts.SUMTER, S.C. — The unofficial results are in for Sumter County’s school board.Four new members were elected in yesterday’s runoff election, including Tarah Johnson."I think bringing in those fresh perspectives is critical," Joyhnson said about why she ran. "It’s critical to the s...

Daniel Palumbo, Brittany English, Tarah Johnson, and Jeff Zell are the four newly elected board members to represent Sumter districts.

SUMTER, S.C. — The unofficial results are in for Sumter County’s school board.

Four new members were elected in yesterday’s runoff election, including Tarah Johnson.

"I think bringing in those fresh perspectives is critical," Joyhnson said about why she ran. "It’s critical to the success of our Sumter community, it’s critical to the success of our students..."

In Tuesday’s runoff election, Daniel Palumbo was one of the other new board members to be elected.

"We need a variety of people to be on that board to become a team and to in this case make Sumter better," Palumbo shared.

To do that, Palumbo tells me he hopes to focus on student discipline and teacher retention while serving on the board.

"We have the greatest teachers here. I know we do. And we’ve just got to be there to support them," he started. "We want to build our reputation to say 'Come here. We have the best schools and we’re the best in the state."

Incumbent Shawn Ragin won re-election on Nov. 8. He says it’s not about the people who serve necessarily, but about the mindset they bring.

"We have to all think together, work together and make sure that we’re there for the number one cause. And that’s for the betterment of Sumter School District," Ragin elaborated. "We have to look forward to what we can do together with our new board in place to push this district to the next level."

To accomplish that goal, Sumter resident Lameshia Dennis believes communication is key.

"It would be nice if there was a way for the schools and the school board to interact more with the parents," she said. It would be nice if there was more of a cohesion between the two."

This is something Johnson says she’s aware of.

"It does involve making certain that we’re in front of the parents, we’re in front of the community on an ongoing basis," Johnson said.

Palumbo is excited for this opportunity, he tells me.

"I can't wait to talk to parents, I can’t wait to talk to the teachers, and start implementing different changes that makes everybody’s lives better," Palumbo shared.

Safety and walkability: Sumter Walk + Bike Master Plan aims to improve transportation infrastructure in metro area

The city is collecting feedback from residents to create the Sumter Walk + Bike Plan, which will be presented to planners by the end of the year.SUMTER, S.C. — Sumter's planning department is hoping to make the metro area safer with the Sumter Walk + Bike Master Plan.The city is surveying residents and collecting feedback to compile a plan by the end of the year, a...

The city is collecting feedback from residents to create the Sumter Walk + Bike Plan, which will be presented to planners by the end of the year.

SUMTER, S.C. — Sumter's planning department is hoping to make the metro area safer with the Sumter Walk + Bike Master Plan.

The city is surveying residents and collecting feedback to compile a plan by the end of the year, according to senior planner Kyle Kelly.

"We’ve spent about 100 years focusing on automobiles. And so we have roads, we have bridges, we have railroads, we have all that kind of thing," Kelly said.

But what we need more of, he thinks, is safe walking areas.

"The more sidewalks you have, the more value you have in your community," Kelly explained. "The more we can improve on our infrastructure, the more that we can add sidewalks, reach places that have been historically underserved by transportation infrastructure, the better it is for our community as a whole."

Kelly has been working to create the master plan, which he calls a "road map for our future walking and bicycling infrastructure needs" in the city's metro area.

"I think safety is the thing that we hear the most about, is people wanting to feel comfortable when they’re out walking or cycling," Kelly said.

This plan is created using feedback from Sumter residents like Rebecca Hunter.

"I think it’s a great opportunity for Sumter and I’m glad that they’re putting this into plan," Hunter shared. "I think it’s great."

Resident Eric Hazzard tells me he’s hopeful that he won’t have to use a vehicle as much.

"Things are so far, you gotta have a car everywhere you go around here," Hazzard said. "That’s a good thing to be able to walk where you gotta go. Ain’t got to use a car so much with the gas prices going up so high, so you know I think that’s a good thing."

Both Hunter and Hazzard say the first area they’d like to see with improved sidewalks is along Broad Street.

"There’s a lot of pedestrians that are walking through Broad Street so I think that would be a great place for them to start," Hunter said.

Hazzard added that the street "probably could extend a little further where the car businesses and stuff at. They probably could put some walk areas out there, it would be easier for the people."

Kelly says the plan will be presented to stakeholders by the end of the year, who will then hopefully set this plan into motion.

"We’re always collecting feedback and input," Kelly said. "There’s never a time when a resident can’t call the planning department and let us know about some issue or need."

We’ve spent about 100 years focusing on automobiles. And so we have roads, we have bridges, we have railroads, we have all that kind of thing, but more in the last you know certainly kinda statewide and nationwide, there’s been a greater emphasis on those facilities that are needed for people who are walking

Everyone who travels is a pedestrian at some point of their trip

The more sidewalks you have, the more value you have in your community

I think safety is the thing that we hear the most about, is people wanting to feel comfortable when they’re out walking or cycling

We’re always collecting feedback and input. There’s never a time when a resident can’t call the planning department and let us know about some issue or need

The more we can I,prove on our infrastructure, the more that we can add sidewalks, reach places that have been historically underserved by transportation infrastructure, the better it is for our community as a whole

All precedent shows that if we continue down this path, it will be rewarding for quality of life, economic development, and everything we’re trying to do

Rebecca hunter:

I love exercise and I feel like walking is one of the great, one of the best ways of exercise, so I love it

I think that’s great. I think it’s a great opportunity for those that love to walk, especially those that are riding bicycles as well. Safety is something that is very much needed especially for those that are on bicycles

Walking is very fun, you get your exercise, your calories in

I think it’s a great opportunity for sumter and I’m glad that they’re putting this into plan. I think it’s great

I think I would say around broad street probably would be best. I think that would be a great way to start, or place to start, because there’s a lot of pedestrians that are walking through broad street so I think that would be a great place for them to start

Try to come out here every day and walk, get some exercise

That’s good cuz you know, things are so far, you gotta have a car everywhere you go around here. So that’s a good thing to be able to walk where you gotta go. Ain’t got to use a car so much with the gas prices going up so high, so you know I think that’s a good thing

Broad street probably could extend a little further where the car businesses and stuff at. They probably could put some walk areas out there, it would be easier for the people.

Coyote statues scare off geese at Swan Lake Iris Gardens

Rangers move the coyote statues every two days to scare off the geese, which tear up the grass and take food from swans.SUMTER, S.C. — Swan Lake Iris Gardens is trying to keep geese away. The city has installed coyote statues on the grass around the water."They’re a nuisance. They really are," Sumter Parks and Garden manager Art Hill explaine...

Rangers move the coyote statues every two days to scare off the geese, which tear up the grass and take food from swans.

SUMTER, S.C. — Swan Lake Iris Gardens is trying to keep geese away. The city has installed coyote statues on the grass around the water.

"They’re a nuisance. They really are," Sumter Parks and Garden manager Art Hill explained about the geese. "We’ve been talking about it for a couple of years now figuring out what to do as the population kept growing, kept growing."

The coyote statues are what the city came up with.

Right now three different fake animals stationed on the grass outside the water. Rangers move the statues every two days to make sure the birds don’t catch on.

"So far, geese are staying away, staying on the lake," Hill explained. "Evidently [swans are] smarter than geese because they walk right up to the coyotes and be munching a little bit of grass around 'em, but not doing damage."

This is good because it means the geese aren’t tearing up and killing the grass around the park, Hill says.

"In the summer when they start eating the roots of the Bermuda grass, get down and start tearing it, it’ll actually kill the grass. You’ll have dead spots everywhere," Hill told me. "We had to replace all this grass behind us because the geese population got so bad that they actually ate all the turf."

Trying to cut down on the increasing goose population isn’t only cosmetic, though.

"We’ve got so many geese that they aggravate the swans, I guess, when they’re trying to feed," Hill shrugged.

And the geese are taking the food, which is expensive for the city to provide. This is a concern for Sumter resident and bird enthusiast Linda Barry, who comes to Swan Lake often. Barry tells me she’s noticed a decrease in the amount of geese recently.

"Definitely think it was a great thing. Definitely," Barry shared. "Because it’s not hostile at all. No Canadian geese are harmed in any way, so it’s definitely a plus-plus."

South Carolina jumps back into Top 25 after consecutive upsets

By RALPH D. RUSSOMichigan moved up to No. 2 in The Associated Press college football poll Sunday, with TCU at No. 3 and Southern California at No. 4 behind top-ranked Georgia after four top-10 teams lost on the final day of regular-season games.South Carolina, meanwhile, is back in the Top 25 at No. 20 after back-to-back upset wins over Top 10 teams. The run started with a win over then No. 2 Tennessee before beating rival Clemson on Saturday.The Bulldogs (12-0) are No. 1 for the eighth straight week and 11th time this s...

By RALPH D. RUSSO

Michigan moved up to No. 2 in The Associated Press college football poll Sunday, with TCU at No. 3 and Southern California at No. 4 behind top-ranked Georgia after four top-10 teams lost on the final day of regular-season games.

South Carolina, meanwhile, is back in the Top 25 at No. 20 after back-to-back upset wins over Top 10 teams. The run started with a win over then No. 2 Tennessee before beating rival Clemson on Saturday.

The Bulldogs (12-0) are No. 1 for the eighth straight week and 11th time this season in the AP Top 25 presented by Regions Bank. Georgia received 58 first-place votes and Michigan received the other five.

The Wolverines (12-0) reached a season-high No. 2 after beating Ohio State, which dropped the Buckeyes three spots to No. 5.

TCU (12-0) has its highest ranking since reaching No. 2 in the 2015 season, and USC (11-1) has its best ranking this late in the season since finishing the 2016 season at No. 3.

Other top-10 teams to fall were LSU, Clemson and Oregon. LSU's loss to Texas A&M dropped those Tigers five spots to No. 11. Clemson's loss to South Carolina sent it falling three spots to No. 10 The Ducks' fourth-quarter collapse against Oregon State cost Oregon a spot in the Pac-12 title game and five spots in the poll, where it fell to No. 15.

Alabama was No. 6, just ahead of Tennessee, which beat the Crimson Tide on a last-second field goal at home earlier this season.

No. 8 Penn State and No. 9 Washington both have their best rankings of the season. The Huskies haven't been in the top 10 since the 2018 season, when they peaked at No. 6.

POLL POINTS

This was the eighth regular-season week since 2017 where four top-10 teams lost, including the second this season. Three of those weeks occurred in 2017.

The last time five or more top-10 teams lost in the same regular-season week was 2016. The week of Nov. 12, 2016, five top-10 teams lost, all to unranked opponents.

The results: Iowa 14, No. 2 Michigan 13; Pittsburgh 43, No. 3 Clemson 42; USC 26, No. 4 Washington 13; Georgia 13, No. 8 Auburn 7; and Mississippi 29, No. 10 Texas A&M 28.

IN

- No. 23 UTSA (10-2) made its season debut in the AP Top 25. The Roadrunners reached the rankings last year for the first time in the short history of the program.

Texas-San Antonio became an FBS school in 2012. The defending Conference USA champions peaked at No. 15 last season and will head into a second straight C-USA title game ranked.

- No. 20 South Carolina (8-4) is back in the rankings after its second straight upset of a top-10 team. The Gamecocks beat Clemson on Saturday after taking down Tennessee last week. South Carolina was ranked for one week in October, but then immediately lost to Missouri.

- No. 25 Mississippi State (8-4) returned to the rankings for the second time this season.

OUT

- Mississippi (8-4) fell out of the rankings for the first time this season. The Rebels reached No. 7 after starting 7-0 but finished the season losing four of five.

- Cincinnati (9-3) is out again. The Bearcats have bounced in and out for most of the season. Losing to Tulane on Friday dropped them out again.

- Coastal Carolina (9-2) dropped out after being routed by James Madison but still has a spot in the Sun Belt championship game next week.

CONFERENCE CALL

Pac-12 - 6 (Nos. 4, 9, 12, 15, 16, 17).

SEC - 6 (Nos. 1, 6, 7, 11, 20, 25).

ACC - 3 (Nos. 10, 14, 24).

Big Ten - 3 (Nos. 2, 5, 8).

Big 12 - 3 (Nos. 3, 13, 21).

American - 2 (Nos. 18, 22).

Conference USA - 1 (No. 23).

Independent - 1 (No. 19).

RANKED vs. RANKED

Championship week features matchup of ranked teams in five conferences:

- No. 11 LSU vs. No. 1 Georgia, Southeastern Conference championship.

- No. 3 TCU vs. No. 13 Kansas State, Big 12 championship.

- No. 4 USC vs. No. 12 Utah, Pac-12 championship.

- No. 10 Clemson vs. No. 24 North Carolina, Atlantic Coast Conference championship.

- No. 18 Tulane vs. No. 22 UCF, American Athletic Conference championship.

ASSOCIATED PRESS TOP 25

1 Georgia (12-0)

2 Michigan (12-0)

3 TCU (12-0)

4 USC (11-1)

5 Ohio State (11-1)

6 Alabama (10-2)

7 Tennessee (10-2)

8 Penn State (10-2)

9 Washington (10-2)

10 Clemson (10-2)

11 LSU (9-3)

12 Utah (9-3)

13 Kansas State (9-3)

14 Florida State (9-3)

15 Oregon (9-3)

16 Oregon State (9-3)

17 UCLA (9-3)

18 Tulane (10-2)

19 Notre Dame (8-4)

20 South Carolina (8-4)

21 Texas (8-4)

22 UCF (9-3)

23 UTSA (10-2)

24 North Carolina (9-3)

25 Mississippi State (8-4)

Others receiving votes: Troy 80, North Carolina State 62, Cincinnati 43, Boise State 39, Purdue 24, Ole Miss 22, South Alabama 12, Illinois 10, Coastal Carolina 6, Pittsburgh 5, James Madison 4, Fresno State 4, Ohio 2, Minnesota 1

Sumter Fire Department, S.C. Red Cross share fire safety tips

Thanksgiving Day is mere hours away. It's time to prep the turkey, cure the ham, mash the potatoes and break out your stretchy pants.While you're at it, let's brush up on some fire safety tips, courtesy of the Red Cross of South Carolina and Lt. Selena Smith, fire prevention specialist with the Sumter Fire Department.Fire safety awareness should be raised year 'round, but the holiday season needs extra attention. The U.S. Fire Administration reported from 2017 to 2019, an estimated 2,300 residential building fires were reported...

Thanksgiving Day is mere hours away. It's time to prep the turkey, cure the ham, mash the potatoes and break out your stretchy pants.

While you're at it, let's brush up on some fire safety tips, courtesy of the Red Cross of South Carolina and Lt. Selena Smith, fire prevention specialist with the Sumter Fire Department.

Fire safety awareness should be raised year 'round, but the holiday season needs extra attention. The U.S. Fire Administration reported from 2017 to 2019, an estimated 2,300 residential building fires were reported to fire departments on Thanksgiving Day.

"Home fires are a real threat to South Carolina over the Thanksgiving holiday," said Rod Tolbert, chief executive officer for the Red Cross of South Carolina. "In particular, cooking fires are the No. 1 cause of home fires, and year after year, Thanksgiving is the peak day for these tragedies."

The average number of reported residential building fires on Thanksgiving Day was 2.3 times more than the average number of fires in residential buildings on all other days, the administration said.

"Cooking is the No. 1 cause of residential fires in the United States, and Thanksgiving is surrounded by cooking and fellowship," Smith said. "It is important especially around the holidays when more people are cooking and baking that you talk about safety with each other. That you can have those discussions of who has smoke alarms at your house, does your smoke alarm work, do you have an escape plan? You can ask those questions and learn more about fire safety."

To give your Thanksgiving table talk a jumpstart, the Red Cross and Sumter Fire Department offer these tips to the community:

- Keep an eye on what you fry. Never leave cooking food unattended. If you must leave the kitchen, even for a short period of time, turn off the stove;

- Move items that can burn away from the stove. This includes dishtowels, bags, boxes, paper and curtains. Also keep children and pets at least three feet away;

- Avoid wearing loose clothing or dangling sleeves while cooking;

- Watch out for pets' tails around open flames;

- Use flameless candles to reduce the risks an open flame brings;

- When frying food, turn the burner off if you see smoke or if the grease starts to boil. Carefully remove the pan from the burner;

- Keep a pan lid or a cookie sheet nearby. Use it to cover the pan if it catches fire. This will put out the fire. Leave the pan covered until it is completely cooled;

- Turn pot handles to the back of the stove, so no one bumps them or pulls them over;

- Keep screens over your fireplace, and remember to service your chimney regularly; and

- Use a timer to remind yourself that the stove or oven is on. Check the kitchen before going to bed or leaving home to ensure all stoves, ovens and small appliances are turned off.

"We don't always think about it, but these are some of the things we can do to stay safe, especially around this time of year," Smith said.

The Sumter Fire Department offers installation of smoke alarms in homes. To have one installed, call the fire department at (803) 436-2600.

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