WILKES-BARRE — As residents prepare for cooler weather and the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday, members of the Wolf Administration are reminding Pennsylvanians of several important fire safety tips to keep your home and family safe.
The U.S. Fire Administration reports that nearly 2,400 house fires occur nationwide on Thanksgiving alone.
These incidents result in numerous fatalities, injuries, and $19 million worth of property losses.
Many of these home fires are due to deep-frying accidents.
“More cooking fires occur during the Thanksgiving holiday than any other day of the year; in fact, cooking is often the number one source of house fires in the commonwealth,” said State Fire Commissioner Bruce Trego. “Furthermore, as the seasons change and more and more Pennsylvanians begin heading indoors, many are choosing to turn on their home-heating for the first time. Annual tune-ups and inspections are excellent ways to prevent issues with carbon monoxide and fires, particularly if using a system that utilizes an open flame.”
Insurance Commissioner Jessica Altman said according to the National Fire Protection Association, between 2014 and 2018, home cooking fires caused an average of $1 billion in direct property damage each year, often peaking at Thanksgiving and Christmas.
“Consumers should ensure that their belongings and even new gifts are covered under their homeowners or renter’s insurance, as many policies have lower limits for valuables such as electronics, jewelry and firearms,” Altman said.
Here are some tips to minimize the threat of fire in your home during this time of year:
Turkey Fryer Tips
Read the turkey fryer owner’s manual thoroughly for proper set-up and safety tips.
Do not deep fry your turkey inside your garage, on your porch or deck, or inside your home.
Use your fryer outside, away from trees, walls, fences and other structures.
Make sure the turkey is completely thawed (hot oil and ice/water do not mix).
Have an all-purpose fire extinguisher nearby. Never use water to extinguish oil fires.
Home Heating Tips
Keep areas around your furnace free of clutter and combustible material; never set items on top of your furnace.
Regularly replace furnace filters.
Likewise, keep combustible materials a safe distance from vent/exhaust lines.
Call a professional if you notice a problem; many offer annual tune-up services.
Smoke Alarm and Carbon
Monoxide Detector Tips
Install smoke alarms in every sleeping room and outside each separate sleeping area. Install alarms on every level of the home including the basement.
Test all alarms at least once a month. Press the test button to be sure the alarm is working.
People who are hard-of-hearing or deaf can use special alarms. These alarms have strobe lights and bed shakers.
Have a home escape plan and practice it with your entire family.
Hazards associated with the presence of carbon monoxide are a serious threat to Pennsylvanians, and the state routinely ranks among the nation’s worst affected. Since it is an odorless, colorless and tasteless gas, it can incapacitate victims before they are aware that they have been exposed. Symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning often include nausea, headaches, dizziness, disorientation and fatigue. These symptoms are can easily be confused with flu and COVID-19 symptoms, making it exceptionally important to utilize a carbon monoxide detector.
Homeowners insurance policies generally cover the structure of a home, personal belongings and liability protection for injured guests. However, increased preparedness and awareness of possible dangers can help homeowners avoid these types of costly claims.
Renters should note that their landlord’s insurance will not cover their personal belongings. Renters insurance is highly recommended for those looking to protect their assets.
With increased holiday gatherings this time of year, it is important to follow the above fire safety tips as well as COVID-19 safety tips.
“Fire safety is a health concern each year,” Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine said. “As we prepare for the Thanksgiving holiday this season, there is another major concern, COVID-19 safety. We encourage Pennsylvanians to spend the holiday with people in your household. If you must spend the holidays with people outside of your household, please wear your mask, wash your hands frequently and take your own food and place settings. We are at a critical point in the pandemic. Remember, if we all do not take steps to prevent the spread of this virus, we put our family, friends, and loved ones at risk.”
State Police, PennDOT announce
annual ‘Operation Safe Holiday’
With the holiday season just around the corner, while travel is not recommended in order to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, the Pennsylvania State Police (PSP) and Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) remind Pennsylvanians who must travel of the importance of safe driving and consistent seat belt use ahead of the long Thanksgiving weekend and the start of the holiday season.
“We can all do our part to prevent crashes and fatalities by designating a sober driver and always wearing a seat belt,” said PennDOT Secretary Yassmin Gramian. “This holiday season may look a little different, but no matter how far or near you travel, traffic safety is always important.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says staying home is the best way to protect yourself and others from COVID-19.
Operation Safe Holiday kicked off on Nov. 16, with the “Click It or Ticket” Thanksgiving enforcement mobilization running through Nov. 29. State police and local law enforcement will be on the lookout to ensure drivers and front-seat passengers are buckled up, and children are secured in properly installed child safety seats.
In Pennsylvania, children under age 4 must be properly restrained in an approved child safety seat. Children under two must be secured in a rear-facing car seat until the child outgrows the maximum weight and height limits designated by the manufacturer. Booster seats are required for children ages four to eight to keep them protected in the event of a crash.
Operation Safe Holiday continues with the holiday season impaired driving campaign that begins on November 25, the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, and runs through New Year’s Day. Law enforcement will conduct impaired driving enforcement details, with zero tolerance toward drivers impaired by drugs or alcohol. According to PennDOT data, there were 1,175 crashes resulting in 31 deaths during the same period in 2019.
“DUI is a serious crime that puts Pennsylvanians at risk every day, but it is also 100 percent preventable,” said Major Bruce Williams, director of the Pennsylvania State Police Bureau of Patrol. “PSP and its local law enforcement partners have zero tolerance toward driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol.”
Drivers are also reminded to obey Pennsylvania’s Move Over Law, which requires drivers to move over or slow down when they encounter an emergency scene, traffic stop, or disabled vehicle.
PA Council on Aging releases
interactive guide for older adults
The Pennsylvania Council on Aging (PCoA) this week released an interactive guide with information and resources to help older adults cultivate a healthy mind, body and spirit amidst the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The guide, titled “SOLO: Strengthening Older Lives Online,” was produced by PCoA’s Risk Reduction Committee, which is made up of older adults and was formed in response to the council’s State of Older Adults Report in May. The committee is an extension of the Social Isolation Task Force, formed in 2019 to help mitigate social isolation among seniors.
“Social isolation is a problem that we already knew existed among seniors and became more of an urgent concern during the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Social Isolation Task Force Chair Janice Cameron. “The challenges we’ve faced also gave us an opportunity to focus on social isolation and what aging Pennsylvanians are experiencing and develop real ways to help combat it. The SOLO guide is a user-friendly self-empowering tool for older adults to be shared among their peers as a means of preventing social isolation.”
The SOLO guide is designed to go beyond some of the physical safety reminders during the COVID-19 pandemic. Using bold, color graphics, the guide incorporates ways for aging adults to combat some of the pervasive stressors exacerbated by the pandemic while helping them live their best lives.
Tools available in the guide include:
Activities & videos to help stay mentally, spiritually, and physically fit
Resources available to assist with those three areas
Short questionnaires to build active health plans
“The Department of Aging is proud of the work of the Risk Reduction Committee, Social Isolation Task Force and PCoA. It’s a true commitment for older Pennsylvanians to be members of these groups and provide us with real input on experiences of seniors,” Secretary of Aging Robert Torres said. “The SOLO health and wellness guide was created by older adults for older adults. It is a great way to empower and support one another, as well as improve physical, mental, and spiritual health.”