Fire Safety During the Holidays

‘Tis the season for turkey, stockings and family. The month between Thanksgiving and New Year’s is a favorite for many. The changing weather calls for cozy sweaters and warming up by the fireplace in the company of loved ones you may not get to see year-round. However, the holidays also bring an increased risk of home fires.

In fact, the US Fire Administration has reported an average of 156,000 house fires per winter holiday season, resulting in over 600 deaths, 2,600 injuries and $900 million in property damage. Thanksgiving is reported to be the number one day for home cooking fires across America. But don’t panic yet! Though the danger is very real, there are simple steps you can take to significantly reduce your risk of fire.

Cooking In the KitchenChristmas Baking
The leading cause of kitchen fires is unattended cooking. Always stay in the kitchen when frying, grilling or broiling food. You don’t need to stand like a watchdog while simmering, roasting, baking or boiling; however, stay inside of your home at all times and monitor occasionally.

Use the back burners on your stove whenever possible and turn pan handles away from you to prevent accidental tipping. Prevent even more accidents by wearing snug clothing with sleeves that do not dangle dangerously close to your stovetop. Keep towels, oven mitts, potholders, paper products, wooden utensils, food packaging and other flammable objects away from any hot appliances.

If a small grease fire ignites inside of a pan, don an oven mitt and carefully slide a lid over the pan to smother the fire. Immediately turn off the burner and leave the lid in place until the pan is completely cool to prevent restarting the fire. Never pour water onto a grease fire! Any splashing can spread burning oil around your kitchen.

Winter Fire Safety for Children
Teaching your children about fire safety has never been more important than when you have a house full of people and a huge meal to cook. You may not have as much time to keep a watchful eye on your young children every second of every day during this hectic season. Relying on family and friends to help supervise children is a good start, but directly teaching children about fire safety can save lives.

Explain to children that cooking over a hot stove can be dangerous. Wave their hands a safe distance over the burner so they can feel the heat. Each family should set rules that work for their household. One rule you may consider is that children are not allowed within three feet of a heated stove or oven, along with space heaters, blazing fireplaces or any other type of heating device. This will protect them from burns and prevent them from accidentally setting an uncontrolled fire.

Protecting the Rest of Your Home
Fires, though most common in the kitchen, can happen anywhere in your home. Install smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors around your house. For added protection, position a fire extinguisher on every floor. Ensure that all flammable objects are kept away from fireplaces and heating 

Christmas Tree

If a fire does start in your home, call 911 immediately. While you wait for the fire department to arrive, you may choose to try to contain and/or extinguish a small fire that is burning in a single area. Keep a safe distance as you spray a fire extinguisher or use any other means of firefighting. If you have any doubt at all in your ability to perform such a task, vacate your home as soon as possible. Close any doors behind you to prevent the fire from spreading. Ensure that every person and pet is out of the house, and grab a phone on your way out in case you need to reach out to loved ones or local authorities.devices, such as space heaters or radiators. Turn off portable heaters when you go to sleep or leave the room/house.

Staying alert to the potential dangers of fires during the holiday season is the first step to protect your home and loved ones. Taking extra precaution during such busy times goes a long way toward keeping everyone safe. With these fire safety measures in mind, enjoy your holiday celebrations with delicious meals and delightful company!

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Tips for Avoiding Fires on Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is the number one day for home cooking fires across America, according to the National Fire Protection Association, with Texas taking the lead for the highest number of fires occurring on the beloved holiday. It’s easy to get sloppy with safety while cooking for such a large group of people; there are simply too many things to worry about in order to get your feast just right. But safety should never be forsaken. Ensuring the safety of your kitchen just makes the pumpkin pie that much sweeter.

Cooking SafetyUse Cooking Appliances Properly
The leading cause of kitchen fires is unattended cooking. Stay in the kitchen at all times when frying, grilling or broiling food. For simmering, roasting, baking or boiling, feel free to set the table and finish other household chores, but remain at home the whole time. If you find that you are absentminded while cooking, set a timer to alert you when food must be checked.

When cooking, wear clothes that fit snugly. Dangling sleeves can easily catch fire on the stovetop. To that end, keep oven mitts, potholders, wooden utensils, paper products, towels, food packaging and other flammable objects away from the stove as well. Leftover food debris on your stove or in your oven increases the risk of fire, so keep your cooking appliances clean.

Preventing and Treating Burns
Accidentally knocking over a pan full of hot food can cause unpleasant burns, but these scenarios are easy to prevent. Using the back burners whenever possible and turning pan handles away from you reduces the risk of accidental tipping. All cords to countertop appliances, such as a mixer or blender, should be neatly coiled and stored away from the counter’s edge.

Wearing snug long sleeves and closed-toe shoes reduces your skin’s exposure to hot liquids and cooking surfaces. However, protecting your hands is key to your ability to continue preparing for the holiday. Always wear oven mitts or use potholders when moving hot food vessels. 

In the event that you do get burned, treat it immediately by submerging your skin in cool water for three to five minutes. If the burn is larger than your fist or looks to be higher than a first degree burn, seek medical help as soon as possible.

If your clothes catch fire, partake in the good ‘ole stop, drop and roll. Stop what you are doing right away, drop to the floor (with your hands covering your face for protection) and roll side to side to put out the fire. Once again, cool any burns with water and seek medical attention if necessary.

Fighting or Fleeing From Fires
Fire SafetyIf you think you can safely fight a small fire, there are certain techniques you should use. Always keep an oven mitt and non-glass lid nearby for such occasions. If a small grease fire starts in a pan, don the oven mitt and carefully slide the lid over the pan to smother the fire. Immediately turn off the burner and leave the lid in place until the pan is completely cool. Removing the lid prematurely can restart the fire. Remember to never pour water into a grease fire! It can cause burning oil to splash and spread the fire.
If a fire starts in your oven or microwave, leave the door shut and turn the appliance off immediately. Do not open the door until the fire is completely out. If an appliance fire should happen in your kitchen, have the oven and/or microwave inspected by a professional before using again.

If you have any doubt at all about your ability to contain or extinguish a fire, vacate your home right away. Close any doors behind you as you leave to prevent the fire from spreading further. Alert any other people and ensure that they exit as quickly as possible. Grab a phone on your way out so you can call 911 for help.

The Dangers of Turkey Fryers
Turkey fryers are becoming increasingly more popular among Thanksgiving connoisseurs. However, they are the biggest fire hazard one can face on turkey day. These top-heavy fryers have a tendency to tip over, spill hot oil and/or overheat. These appliances should always be used outdoors in a well-ventilated area a distance away from your garage, carport, walls and fences. Never leave a heated turkey fryer unattended.

Start by completely thawing and drying your turkey before cooking. Frozen, cold or even wet birds can produce bubbling oil spills over the pot’s rim and onto the burner, which can catch fire. Cover your bare skin and raise/lower your turkey very slowly to reduce oil splatter.

Keep your propane tank at least two feet upwind from the burner to keep the wind from blowing heat toward the gas. If you notice the oil smoking, turn off the gas supply immediately. In the event of a fire, call 911 and avoid any attempt to put out the fire with water. Keep a fire extinguisher nearby as a safety precaution.

Thanksgiving rolls many people’s favorite foods into one celebratory day. Tack on spending time with friends and family and the recipe for a great holiday is complete. Taking safety measures while preparing your Thanksgiving favorites will ensure a happy, healthy holiday.

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