Fire officials offer fire safety tips for holiday season

Published 12:01 am Friday, November 23, 2018

NATCHEZ — The holiday season is a time of get-togethers with family and friends.

The holiday season, which kicked off on Thanksgiving and runs through New Year’s also is the peak season for home-cooking fires and the holiday season also coincides with home heating fires as the temperatures outside drop, fire officials said.

Email newsletter signup

Unattended cooking is the leading contributing factor in cooking fires and fire deaths, said Ventris Green, acting fire chief for Natchez. Cooking equipment, Green said, is involved in almost half of all reported home fires and home fire injuries and is the second leading cause of home fire deaths.

“Space heaters also are one of the leading causes of home fire deaths,” said Ryan Jones, Natchez fire marshal.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission estimates that more than 25,000 residential fires and more than 300 deaths are caused nationwide each year by space heaters.

More than 6,000 Americans receive hospital emergency room care annually for burn injuries associated with room heaters, Jones said, adding that half of heating equipment fires are reported during the months of December, January and February.

Green said advanced planning for get-togethers and the following safety tips can help minimize the chance of home cooking fires and space heating equipment fires:

Stay in the kitchen when you are cooking on the stovetop so you can keep an eye on the food.

Stay in the home when cooking and check the cooking items frequently.

Keep children at least 3 feet away from the stove when you are cooking.

Keep matches and utility lighters out of the reach of children — up high in a locked cabinet.

Never leave children alone in a room with a lighted candle.

Make sure your smoke alarms are working by pushing the test button at least once a month.

Keep anything that can burn at least 3 feet away from heating equipment such as furnaces, fireplaces, wood stoves and portable space heaters.

Never use your oven to heat your house.

Have a qualified professional install station space heating equipment such as water heaters or central heating equipment according to the local codes and manufacturer’s instructions.

Have heating equipment and chimneys cleaned and inspected every year by a qualified professional.

Remember to turn portable heaters off when leaving the room or going to bed.

Make sure the fireplace has a sturdy screen to keep sparks from flying into the room. Ashes should be cool before putting them in a metal container. Keep the container a safe distance away from your house.