Seasonal Emergency Readiness

Thanksgiving - Cook safely
According to the U.S. Fire Administration (USFA), cooking is the main cause of home fires.  The peak day for home cooking fires is Thanksgiving.  Keep your holiday safe and fun. Follow these tips from the USFA:

  • Stay in the kitchen when you are frying, boiling, broiling or grilling food. 
  • If you leave the kitchen, turn off the burner.
  • Watch what you are cooking. Fires start when the heat is too high. If you see any smoke or the grease starts to boil, turn the burner off.
  • If you simmer, bake or roast food, check it regularly and use a timer to remind you.
  • Keep anything that can catch fire (oven mitts, wooden utensils, food packages, towels) away from your stove top.
  • Turn pot handles toward the back of the stove, to above bumping them or knocking them over.
  • Keep a pan lid or baking sheet nearby. Use it to cover the pan if it catches fire.
  • In the event of an oven fire, turn off the oven and keep the door closed until it is cool.
  • Keep children away from the stove. 
  • Make sure your smoke alarms are working. Test them by pushing the test button.

USFA’s Cooking Fire Safety offers additional information and resources.  If you plan to deep fry your turkey, download the Prevent a Turkey Fryer Fire tip sheet.

Winter Conditions

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

Consider these winter tips:

  • Make an emergency kit for at least three days of self sufficiency.
  • Keep space heater safety in mind: Use electric space heaters with automatic shut-off switches and non-glowing elements. Remember to keep all heat sources at least three feet away from furniture and drapes.
  • Ensure you have fresh batteries in your carbon monoxide detector.
  • Keep an extra emergency kit specifically created for your car. In addition to the basic essentials, consider adding a potable cell phone charger, ice scraper, extra blanket, sand for traction and jumper cables.
  • If you depend on electricity top operate medical equipment you should have alternate arrangements in place in case power is out for an extended period of time.
  • Plan to bring pets inside.
  • After a snowstorm, avoid overexertion when shoveling snow. Overexertion can bring on a heart attack.  Use caution, take breaks, push the snow instead of lifting it when possible and lift lighter loads.
  • If you must go outside, wear several layers of loose-fitting lightweight, warm clothing rather than one later of heavy clothing. The outer garments should be tightly woven and water repellent. Wear mittens, which are warmer than gloves. Wear a hat and cover your mouth with a scarf to reduce heat loss.

View additional tips on Snowstorms & Extreme Cold (Ready.gov)

Wood Stoves & Fireplaces

  • Have the chimney inspected yearly.
  • Do not use flammable liquids to start or accelerate any fire.
  • Keep a glass or metal screen in front of fireplace openings.
  • Never burn charcoal indoors; it can give off lethal amounts of carbon monoxide.
  • Keep flammable materials away from 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

  • Be sure it is in good working condition with an emergency shut-off valve in case it is accidentally knocked over.
  • Be sure the room is properly vented. Burning fuel (i.e. kerosene, coal or propane) produces deadly fumes.
  • Never fill the heater while it is operating or hot. Avoid overfilling as cold fuel may expand in the tank when it warms up.
  • Refueling should be done outdoors.

Furnace Heating

  • Have the furnace inspected to ensure that it and all of its controls and 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 the flue pipes and pipe seams are well supported and free of holes and cracks.
  • Make sure the chimney is solid with no cracks or loose bricks.
  • Keep trash and combustibles away from the heating system.