Thanksgiving festivities are going on this week and the Christmas season is right around the corner… Murfreesboro Fire & Rescue, Rutherford County Fire-Rescue, and the La Vergne and Smyrna Fire Departments are offering advice on how to keep your holiday safe and free from fire! “When our agencies come together like this to share important information, it is to better improve the safety of all of our communities,” said LVFD Assistant Chief Chris Clark.
Fire precaution is especially import with Middle Tennessee in the midst of a Phase 2 Drought. We urge citizens to take extra precautions with the increase of fire hazards this time of the year. “Fires, injuries, and property loss associated with holiday cooking and decorating are all too common,” said State Fire Marshal and Commerce & Insurance Commissioner Julie Mix McPeak. National and State statistics show that house fires involving cooking equipment are most common during the Thanksgiving holiday, with the leading contributing factor being unattended cooking.
Here are some tips on how to cook and decorate smart this holiday:
- Pay Attention in the Kitchen. Stay in the kitchen when you are frying, grilling, broiling, or boiling food and use a timer when simmering, baking, or roasting food. Avoid cooking if you are sleepy, have consumed alcohol, or have taken medicine or drugs that make you drowsy.
- Turkey Fryers. The State Fire Marshal’s Office recommends oil-free models or having a professional prepare your deep fried turkey. *From 2009-2013 Tennessee Fire Departments responded to over 70 fire involving deep fryers. The risk of a fire from a fryer getting out of hand quickly is even greater with the dry conditions.
- Water that Tree! Do not let live trees dry out. Keep them watered and recycle them promptly after the holiday. If you are using a metallic or artificial tree make sure it is flame retardant.
- Do Not Overload Electrical Outlets. Do not link more than three light strands, unless the directions indicate it is safe. Connect strings of lights to an extension cord before plugging the cord into the outlet. Make sure to periodically check the wires - they should not be warm to the touch.
- Maintain Your Holiday Lights. Inspect holiday lights each year for frayed wires, bare spots, gaps in the insulation, broken or cracked sockets, and excessive kinking or wear before storing them. Not all holiday lights are made equal, so be sure you have the appropriate lights for indoor or outdoor use, and use only lighting listed by an approved testing laboratory. Use clips, not nails, to hang lights to keep cords from getting damaged.
- Do Not Leave Holiday Lights on Unattended. Turn them off when you leave the house or go to bed.
- Avoid Using Lit Candles to Decorate. If you do use them, make sure they are in stable holders and place them where they cannot be easily knocked down. Never put lit candles on a tree. Blow out lit candles when you leave the room or go to bed. Never leave a child alone in a room with a lit candle.
- Keep Escape Routes Clear. Do not block exit routes with trees or decorations.
- Smoke Alarms. Make sure your smoke alarms are working properly. Test them to make sure, and if you need assistance with installing additional smoke alarms or changing your batteries, contact your local fire department.
With colder air finally making its way into Tennessee, we would like to encourage all Tennesseans to take precautionary measures while heating your home. Heating equipment that may have been idle most of the year should be thoroughly checked. Carbon monoxide positioning is also a danger when temperatures drop. Sources of carbon monoxide in the home can include oil and gas furnaces, gas water heaters, wood and gas fireplaces, gas ranges and ovens, gas or kerosene space heaters, and wood stoves. According to data from the Department of Health, six people died in Tennessee in 2015 as a result of non-fire related carbon monoxide poisoning.
Lastly, please keep in mind that all of Middle Tennessee is in severe to extreme drought. A burn ban is in effect for both Rutherford County and the cities of Murfreesboro, La Vergne, and Smyrna. For Rutherford County and the city of La Vergne, this includes: grills, fire pits, bon fires, commercial burning, etc. Murfreesboro and Smyrna have not banned grills and are allowing burning in fire pits that are commercially constructed and up off of the ground (i.e. chimineas). Both the grill and fire pit must be attended at all times by a competent person and must have an extinguishing agent such as a fire extinguisher or garden hose nearby. There are also measures that you can use to keep your home safe from brush and/or wildfires.
“We want your holiday to be a special and enjoyable time with your families and friends,” said MFRD Fire Rescue Chief Mark Foulks. “The last thing we want is to respond to an emergency call to your home!”
If you still have questions, please do not hesitate to contact your local fire department. Remember, no question is a silly question if it saves your life!