Holiday fire safety: Take steps now to protect your home and family
As residents prepare for cooler weather and the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday, members of Gov. Tom Wolf’s administration are reminding Pennsylvanians of several important fire safety tips to keep your home and family safe.
The U.S. Fire Administration reports that nearly 2,400 house fires occur nationwide on Thanksgiving alone. These incidents result in numerous fatalities, injuries and $19 million worth of property losses. Many of these home fires are due to deep-frying accidents.
“More cooking fires occur during the Thanksgiving holiday than any other day of the year; in fact, cooking is often the number one source of house fires in the commonwealth,” said State Fire Commissioner Bruce Trego.
“Furthermore, as the seasons change and more and more Pennsylvanians begin heading indoors, many are choosing to turn on their home-heating for the first time. Annual tuneups and inspections are excellent ways to prevent issues with carbon monoxide and fires, particularly if using a system that utilizes an open flame,” Trego said.
“According to the National Fire Protection Association, between 2014 and 2018, home cooking fires caused an average of $1 billion in direct property damage each year, often peaking at Thanksgiving and Christmas,” said Insurance Commissioner Jessica Altman.
“Consumers should ensure that their belongings and even new gifts are covered under their homeowners or renter’s insurance, as many policies have lower limits for valuables such as electronics, jewelry and firearms.”
Here are some tips to minimize the threat of fire in your home during this time of year:
Turkey Fryer Tips
• Read the turkey fryer owner’s manual thoroughly for proper setup and safety tips.
• Do not deep fry your turkey inside your garage, on your porch or deck, or inside your home.
• Use your fryer outside, away from trees, walls, fences and other structures.
• Make sure the turkey is completely thawed (hot oil and ice/water do not mix).
• Have an all-purpose fire extinguisher nearby. Never use water to extinguish oil fires.
Home Heating Tips
• Keep areas around your furnace free of clutter and combustible material; never set items on top of your furnace.
• Regularly replace furnace filters.
• Likewise, keep combustible materials a safe distance from vent/exhaust lines.
• Call a professional if you notice a problem; many offer annual tune-up services.
Smoke Alarm and Carbon Monoxide Detector Tips
• Install smoke alarms in every sleeping room and outside each separate sleeping area. Install alarms on every level of the home including the basement.
• Test all alarms at least once a month. Press the test button to be sure the alarm is working.
• People who are hard-of-hearing or deaf can use special alarms. These alarms have strobe lights and bed shakers.
• Have a home escape plan and practice it with your entire family.
Hazards associated with the presence of carbon monoxide are a serious threat to Pennsylvanians, and the state routinely ranks among the nation’s worst affected. Since it is an odorless, colorless and tasteless gas, it can incapacitate victims before they are aware that they have been exposed.
Symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning often include nausea, headaches, dizziness, disorientation and fatigue. These symptoms can easily be confused with flu and COVID-19 symptoms, making it exceptionally important to utilize a carbon monoxide detector.
Homeowners insurance policies generally cover the structure of a home, personal belongings and liability protection for injured guests. However, increased preparedness and awareness of possible dangers can help homeowners avoid these types of costly claims.
Renters should note that their landlord’s insurance will not cover their personal belongings. Renters’ insurance is highly recommended for those looking to protect their assets.
With increased holiday gatherings this time of year, it is important to follow the above fire safety tips as well as COVID-19 safety tips.
All Pennsylvanians are encouraged to follow the Pennsylvania Department of Health universal masking order, social distancing guidelines, and download the COVID Alert PA app.
The free app can be found in the Google Play Store and the Apple App Store by searching for “covid alert pa.”
Together Pennsylvanians can continue to fight the COVID-19 virus, even during Thanksgiving holiday.
“Fire safety is a health concern each year,” Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine said.
“As we prepare for the Thanksgiving holiday this season, there is another major concern, COVID-19 safety. We encourage Pennsylvanians to spend the holiday with people in your household. If you must spend the holidays with people outside of your household, please wear your mask, wash your hands frequently and take your own food and place settings. We are at a critical point in the pandemic. Remember, if we all do not take steps to prevent the spread of this virus, we put our family, friends, and loved ones at risk.”
Visit www.BeFireSafePA.com for additional fire safety tips, and the turkey fryer factsheet.