Keep holidays & winter months safe by making fire prevention a priority in your home
√ State Office of Fire Prevention and Control PSA provides New Yorkers with best household practices ahead of holiday season
Guest Editorial by the New York State Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services’
The New York State Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services’ Office of Fire Prevention and Control encourages 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 that can prevent potential disasters and life-threatening emergencies.
New York State Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services Acting Commissioner Jackie Bray said, "With the holidays and cold weather upon us, New Yorkers will be spending more time with friends and family and we want them to stay safe. There are simple steps you can follow to prevent fires within your homes and help keep everyone safe over the next few months. The leading causes of home fires involve cooking fires, heating equipment, and fires caused by decorations or candles, so we’re asking New Yorkers to exercise caution and make fire prevention a priority during the winter season.”
State Fire Administrator James Cable said, "New Yorkers need to make fire prevention a top priority, not just during the holidays and winter months when we experience greater numbers of home fires, but year-round. By following some simple steps to help prevent fires in the first place, individuals can avoid tragedies and property loss associated with fires. The first step is to ensure you have working smoke alarms on all levels of your home. The actions you take now can help save lives.”
More than three times as many cooking fires occur on Thanksgiving Day than on any other typical day of the year. In 2019, an estimated 1,400 home cooking fires were reported to U.S. fire departments on Thanksgiving, reflecting a 228% increase over the daily average. Christmas is another peak day for home cooking fires. Cooking is by far the leading cause of home fires year-round, with unattended cooking serving as the leading cause.
Reduce fire dangers by:
√ Never leaving 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. 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:
√ Inspecting a string of lights for worn or broken cords. Always read manufacturer’s instructions for number of light strands to connect.
√ Minimizing the use of extension cords and multi-plug devices.
√ Keeping 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 on 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 3 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.
The Office of Fire Prevention and Control delivers a wide breadth of services to firefighters, emergency responders, state and local government agencies, public and private colleges, and the citizens of New York. The office is part of the larger New York State Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services which 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.