HomeRenters InsuranceAvoid holiday incidents with these safety tips

Avoid holiday incidents with these safety tips

An average of 2,300 house fires occur nationwide on Thanksgiving, causing fatalities, injuries and $26 million in property loss.

HARRISBURG, Pa. — The Shapiro administration is offering several tips this holiday season to keep events incident-free. 

“This holiday, as we gather to celebrate with loved ones, safety for yourself, your family, and your home should be a top priority,” said Pennsylvania Insurance Commissioner Michael Humphreys. “In the event of an unfortunate accident, homeowners insurance and renters insurance will cover certain damages, but it is best to follow safety guidelines to ensure that the worst does not happen in the first place.”

“We urge you this holiday to use caution when cooking to avoid potentially dangerous situations, prevent costly repairs, and have a happy and safe Thanksgiving,” he continued. 

The U.S. Fire Administration reports the average number of residential building fires on Thanksgiving Day is more than double the average number of fires in homes on all other days. 

An average of 2,300 house fires occur nationwide on Thanksgiving, causing fatalities, injuries and $26 million in property loss. 

If the worst happens, standard homeowners insurance policies will cover items such as the structure of a home, personal belongings, and liability protection for injury to guests. However, filing a property damage claim may raise the homeowner’s insurance premium, and the homeowner will be responsible for paying any deductible on the policy out-of-pocket.

Many Thanksgiving home fires are due to deep-frying accidents. For some, deep frying a turkey can be a tasty alternative to the traditional oven-roasted method, but fryers pose significant risks to personal safety and property without the proper safety measures in place. 

“Turkey fryers and inattentive cooking are consistently listed as the leading causes of these fires, and the life-changing result of a home fire is all the more tragic knowing that they are entirely avoidable,” said State Fire Commissioner Thomas Cook. “Taking the appropriate safety precautions can and will protect the lives and property of you and your loved ones.”

Here are some tips to keep families, guests and property safe:

  • Read the turkey fryer owner’s manual thoroughly for proper set-up and safety tips
  • Make sure the turkey is completely thawed before frying (hot oil and ice/water do not mix) 
  • Use the correct amount of oil; overfilled fryers increase the likelihood of oil spilling out of the pot and hitting the burner causing flames to engulf the entire unit
  • Never leave the fryer unattended; many fryers lack thermostats to prevent overheating
  • Do not deep fry your turkey inside your garage, on your porch or deck, or inside your home
  • Have an all-purpose fire extinguisher nearby; never use water to extinguish an oil fire
  • Keep children and pets away from all cooking surfaces
  • Use proper hand protection; lids and handles of the cooking pot get dangerously hot, posing severe burn hazards
  • Ensure full attention is dedicated to cooking; do not consume alcohol while cooking.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends the following tips to help prevent food poisoning or foodborne illness, during the holidays:

  • Keep meat, poultry, seafood, and eggs separate from all other foods at the grocery store and in the refrigerator. Prevent juices from meat, chicken, turkey, and seafood from dripping or leaking onto other foods by keeping them in containers or sealed plastic bags. Store eggs in their original carton in the main compartment of the refrigerator. 
  • Cook foods thoroughly and use a food thermometer to ensure foods have been cooked to a safe internal temperature to kill germs.
  • Keep food out of the danger zone which is between 40°F and 140°F because bacteria can grow rapidly between these temperatures.
  • Use pasteurized eggs for dishes containing raw eggs. 
  • Do not eat raw dough or batter, because they can contain harmful germs such as E. coli and Salmonella. 
  • Thaw your turkey safely in a sink of cold water or the microwave. Avoid thawing foods on the counter.
  • Wash your hands with soap and water:
    • Before, during, and after preparing food
    • Before eating food
    • After handling pet food or pet trays or touching pets
    • After using the toilet
    • After changing diapers or cleaning up a child who had used the toilet
    • After touching garbage
    • Before and after caring for someone who is sick
    • Before and after treating a cut or wound, and 
    • After blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing

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