The Federal Emergency Management Agency's (FEMA) United States Fire Administration (USFA) issued a special report recently examining the characteristics of Thanksgiving Day fires in residential buildings. The report, Thanksgiving Day Fires in Residential Buildings, was developed by USFA's National Fire Data Center.
The report is based on 2006 to 2008 data from the National Fire Incident Reporting System (NFIRS). According to the report, an estimated 2,000 Thanksgiving Day fires in residential buildings occur annually in the United States, resulting in an estimated average of 5 deaths, 25 injuries, and $21 million in property loss. The leading cause of all Thanksgiving Day fires in residential buildings is, by far, cooking. Additionally, smoke alarms were not present in 20 percent of nonconfined Thanksgiving Day fires that occurred in occupied residential buildings.
- Keep your family and overnight guests safe with a working smoke alarm on every level of the house, in each bedroom and in the halls adjacent to the bedrooms. Test smoke alarms monthly, and replace batteries at least once a year.
- Overnight guests should be instructed on your home’s fire escape plan and designated meeting place for your family.
- Have a fire extinguisher available not more than 10 feet from the stove, on the exit side of the room.
- A standard Class ABC multi-purpose dry chemical extinguisher is recommended. Know how to use your fire extinguisher.
- Start holiday cooking with a clean stove and oven.
- Keep the kitchen off limits to young children and adults who are not helping with food preparations. This will lessen the possibility of kitchen mishaps.
- When cooking, do not wear clothing with loose sleeves or dangling jewelry. Clothing can catch on fire and jewelry can become entangled with pot handles, causing spills and burns.
- Cook on the back burners when possible, and turn pot handles inward so they don’t extend over the edge of the stove.
- Never leave cooking unattended. If you must leave the kitchen while cooking, turn off the stove or have someone else watch what is being cooked. Unattended cooking is the number one cause of home fires and fire-related injuries in Prince George’s County. According to the USFA; cooking is the leading cause of all Thanksgiving Day fires in residential buildings at 69 percent. Nearly all of these cooking fires (97 percent) are small, confined fires with limited damage.
- If you use a deep fryer, please, exercise extreme caution and follow manufacturer instructions. The report from the USFA found that these cooking devices accounted for about 1% of Thanksgiving Day fires.
- Keep Thanksgiving decorations and kitchen clutter away from sources of direct heat.
- Candles are often part of holiday decorations. They should never be left burning when you are away from home, or after going to bed. Candles should be placed where children will not be tempted to play with them, and where guests will not accidentally brush against them. The candleholder should be completely non-combustible and difficult to knock over. The candle should not have combustible decorations around it.
- If smoking is allowed inside, provide guests with large, deep ashtrays and check them frequently. After guests leave check inside, under upholstery, and in trash cans for cigarette butts that may be smoldering.
Contact us at 301-864-SAFE (7233) and we will install one for you; free of charge.
The men and women, career and volunteer, of the Prince George's County Fire/EMS Department wish everyone a Happy and Safe Thanksgiving!!!