The New York State Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services’ Office of Fire Prevention and Control today encouraged New Yorkers to follow best practices to prevent household fires during the upcoming holiday season. Year-end holidays, in combination with the winter months, bring an increased risk of fire and carbon monoxide poisoning due to cooking fires, the use of heating equipment, and fires from decorations and candles. To help increase awareness of fire dangers, the State Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services’ Office of Fire Prevention and Control (OFPC) produced a short video to emphasize the importance of following simple fire prevention steps this winter which can prevent potential disasters and life-threatening emergencies.
State Fire Administrator James Cable said, "Every year, approximately 4,000 people die in fires in the U.S. and thousands are injured. Most residential fires start in the kitchen and cooking related fires are a leading cause of fire deaths. Never leave cooking unattended. Keep items that can catch fire such as oven mitts, cooking utensils, and towels away from a stovetop to prevent a fire. I urge all New Yorkers to make fire prevention a top priority this holiday season.”
Cooking is by far the leading cause of home fires year-round, with unattended cooking serving as the leading cause. An estimated 1,400 home cooking fires occur annually on Thanksgiving Day, more than three times the number of cooking fires on a typical day. Additionally, the Office of Fire Prevention and Control warns New Yorkers about using turkey fryers with cooking oil because spilled or splashed cooking oil can result in devastating burn injuries. Christmas is another peak day for home cooking fires.
Reduce fire dangers by:
- Never leave cooking unattended
- If you have a small fire while cooking on the stovetop, smother the flames by sliding a lid or baking sheet over the pan and turning off the burner until cooled.
- For an oven fire, turn off the heat and keep the oven door closed.
- Keep children away from the stove and areas where hot food is being prepared.
Holiday decorations and candle fires can also contribute to home fires. Christmas tree fires are more common during the hours when people are awake and most fires start in the living room, family room or den. Electrical failures or malfunctions were factors in almost one-third of Christmas tree fires, and heat sources, such as a candle or equipment too close to a tree, also contributed to fires.
Reduce holiday decoration and candle fires by:
- Inspect a string of lights for worn or broken cords. Always read manufacturer’s instructions for number of light strands to connect.
- Minimize the use of extension cords and multi-plug devices.
- Keep lit candles away from decorations and combustibles. Always keep them out of reach of children and pets, and never leave a candle burning unattended.
- Always turn off electrical tree lights before leaving home or going to bed.
- Don’t forget to water your real tree to prevent it from drying out.
Another area of concern during the holidays and winter season centers around the use of home heating equipment. Heating equipment is a leading cause of fires in U.S. homes. Nearly half of all home heating fires occur in December, January, and February. A vast majority of home hearing fires involve stationary or portable space heaters. Another cause of home heating fires includes poorly maintained solid-fueled heating equipment, primarily chimneys.
Tips to help prevent home heating fires include:
- Have a qualified professional clean and inspect your chimney, vents, and heating equipment yearly.
- Keep combustibles at least three-feet away from heating equipment.
- Always plug appliances including space heaters directly into a receptacle. Never plug appliances into a power strip or extension cord.
About the State Office of Fire Prevention and Control
The Office of Fire Prevention and Control delivers a wide breadth of essential services to firefighters, emergency responders, state and local government agencies, public and private colleges, and the citizens of New York to help ensure the safety of all stakeholders. The office advances public safety through firefighter training, education, fire prevention, investigative, special operations, and technical rescue programs.
About the Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services
The New York State Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services provides leadership, coordination and support for efforts to prevent, protect against, prepare for, respond to, and recover from terrorism and other man-made and natural disasters, threats, fires and other emergencies. For more information, visit the DHSES Facebook page, follow @NYSDHSES on Twitter, or Instagram, or visit dhses.ny.gov.
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