Seasonal Emergency Readiness

Thanksgiving - Cook safely
According to the U.S. Fire Administration (USFA), cooking is the main cause of home fires with the highest percentage occurring on Thanksgiving. USFA offers cooking fire prevention information and resources through their website

Keep your Thanksgiving holiday safe and fun. Follow these tips from the USFA:

  • Stay in the kitchen while frying, boiling, broiling or grilling food; turn off the burner if you need to leave
  • Fires start when the heat is too high. If you see smoke or grease starts to boil, turn the burner off
  • Check on simmering, baking or roasting food and set a timer for a reminder
  • Keep flammable items away from the stovetop (oven mitts, wooden utensils, food packages, paper or dish towels) 
  • Turn pan handles toward the back of the stove to avoid bumping or knocking pans over
  • Cover a pan with a pan lid or sheet tray if it catches fire
  • Turn off the oven and keep the door closed if an oven catches fire
  • Make sure your smoke alarms are working, and check them regularly

Winter Conditions

Winter storms can bring cause power outages that could last multiple days, and may close or limit critical community services. 

Consider these winter tips:

  • Make an emergency kit with enough food and water to last at least three days
  • Keep space heaters at least three feet away from furniture and drapes.  Use electric space heaters with automatic shut-off switches and non-glowing elements
  • Check carbon monoxide detector batteries regularly
  • Keep an extra emergency kit in your car, adding extras like a cell phone charger, ice scraper,  blanket, sand for traction and battery jumper cables
  • If you depend on electricity to operate medical equipment you should have alternate arrangements in place in case power is out for an extended period of time
  • Plan to keep pets inside
  • Avoid overexertion when shoveling snow, which can bring on a heart attack.  Take plenty of breaks, and push the snow instead of lifting it
  • When going outdoors, wear several layers of loose-fitting lightweight, warm clothing rather than one heavy layer. The outer garments should be tightly woven and water repellent. Wear mittens, which are warmer than gloves., and wear a hat and scarf that will cover your mouth to reduce heat loss

View additional tips on Snowstorms - Extreme Cold - Staying Safe & Warm (Ready.gov)

Wood Stoves & Fireplaces

  • Inspect the chimney yearly for cracks, loose bricks, or soot build-up
  • Do not use flammable liquids to start or accelerate a fire
  • Keep a glass or metal screens in front of fireplace openings
  • Never burn charcoal indoors - it can give off lethal amounts of carbon monoxide
  • Keep flammable materials off of  the mantel
  • Never close the damper with hot ashes in the fireplace. Be sure the fire is completely out before going to bed

Kerosene Heaters

  • Should be in good working condition with an emergency shut-off valve,  in case it tips over
  • Be sure the room is properly vented. Burning fuel (i.e. kerosene, coal or propane) produces deadly fumes
  • Never fill/refill indoors or while operating or still hot. Avoid overfilling, as cold fuel may expand in the tank when warmed up

Furnace Heating

  • Have the furnace inspected to ensure that it and its controls/emergency shut-off are in good working condition
  • Repairs should be made only by a qualified specialist
  • If the walls and ceiling near the furnace and along the chimney line are hot or discolored, more insulation or clearance may be needed
  • Check to be sure chimney flue pipes and pipe seams are well supported and free of holes and cracks
  • Keep trash and combustibles away from the heating system

The high cost of heating a home may have people searching for alternate, less expensive heating sources. The use of space heaters, wood burning stoves, and fire places are all acceptable alternatives; however, they are all major contributing factors in residential fires, many of which could be prevented by following these few fire safety tips.