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Be Fire Safe This Holiday Season

November 13, 2020 11:45 AM
By: PA Office of the State Fire Commissioner

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​More cooking fires occur during the Thanksgiving holiday than any other day of the year; in fact, cooking is the number one cause of house fires in the commonwealth.

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 tune-ups and inspections are excellent ways to prevent issues with carbon monoxide and fires, particularly if using a system that utilizes an open flame.

It is very important to follow the following fire safety tips as well as COVID-19 safety tips to support our front-line workers. 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.”

Turkey Fryer Safety

Home cooking fires cause an average of $1 billion in direct property damage each year, often peaking at Thanksgiving and Christmas. A common source of these fires is turkey fryers. 

Some important safety tips:

  • Read the turkey fryer owner’s manual thoroughly for proper set-up information.
  • Do not deep fry your turkey inside a garage, on a porch or deck, or inside a home.
  • Use fryers 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.

Carbon Monoxide AKA “The Silent Killer”

Hazards associated with the presence of carbon monoxide are a serious threat to Pennsylvanians, and the state routinely leads the nation in fatalities. 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 are can easily be confused with flu and COVID-19 symptoms, making it exceptionally important to utilize a carbon monoxide detector.

Here are some tips to minimize the threat of carbon monoxide in your homes:

  • Keep areas around your furnace free of clutter and combustible material; never set items on top of your furnace.
  • Regularly replace furnace filters.
  • Keep combustible materials a safe distance from vent/exhaust lines.
  • Consult a professional if you notice a problem; many offer annual tune-up services.
  • Test all alarms at least once a month. Press the test button to be sure the alarm is working.
  • Have a home escape plan and practice it with your entire family.

Learn more from our Carbon Monoxide Safety Tip Sheet (PDF).

The Importance of Insurance Coverage

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.

Additionally, as gifts are exchanged during the holidays, take notice of your plan’s coverage limits for valuable items like jewelry, electronics, and firearms. If you have recently bought or been gifted an expensive item, you may want to adjust your coverage.

Public Health Safety Information

Each year, many look forward to the holidays as a welcome opportunity to spend time with their extended families and friends. Unfortunately, this year presents a unique and serious concern: COVID-19 safety.

The Pennsylvania Department of Health is encouraging Pennsylvanians to spend the holidays with people in their household and refrain from hosting or participating in larger gathers. If you must spend the holidays with people outside of your household, masks should be worn when possible, and hands should be frequently washed. When dining, take your own food and place settings.

As daily case-counts have risen, it has become increasingly necessary to take this threat to our safety very seriously. Taking these simple steps to prevent the spread of this virus could save our families, friends, and loved ones from being put at risk.

Learn More

For more information about holiday fire prevention and safety, visit these websites:


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