November 16, 2017

State fire marshal advises Missourians to remember fire safety at Thanksgiving and throughout holiday season

Holiday season greatly increases residential fire risks because of increased indoor cooking, turkey fryers, candles, Christmas trees and other factors

State Fire Marshal Tim Bean is reminding Missourians that Thanksgiving not only kicks off the holiday season, it raises the potential for dangerous residential fires – caused by everything from increased indoor cooking and turkey fryers to Christmas trees, decorations and festive candles.

“The holidays and winter season are peak fire times and as we gather with loved ones it’s essential that we think about preventing fires, review safety plans and plan two ways out of every room in the home,” State Fire Marshal Tim Bean said. “Cooking equipment and heating equipment are the leading causes of these fires, but candles, decorations and Christmas trees are other areas where safety must come first.”

Fire Marshal Bean shared these holiday fire facts from the National Fire Protection Association:

  • Thanksgiving is the peak day for home cooking fires, followed by Christmas Day and Christmas Eve.
  • The peak days for candle fires are Christmas Day, New Year’s Day and Christmas Eve.
  • From 2009 to 2014, U.S. fire departments responded to an estimated average of 860 home fires per year that began with decorations, excluding Christmas trees and an average of 210 fires started by Christmas trees.
  • About 20 percent of decoration fires start in the kitchen, about 17 percent in the living room, family room or den.


Remember these holiday fire safety tips:

  • Someone should remain in the kitchen when cooking on the stovetop and remain at home when cooking a turkey so you can check on it frequently.
  • Keep children away from the stove; arrange pans on the stovetop so handles face inward.
  • Be prepared to deal with potential cooking fires. Remember to never put water on a grease fire.
  • If using a turkey fryer, remember: use it outdoors on a flat, level surface that is a safe distance from the house, garage, decks and trees. Don’t operate a fryer in snow or rain. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions to avoid over filling. Make sure the turkey is completely thawed and dry. Turn off the burner before lowering the turkey into the oil. Once submerged, restart the burner. Never leave the fryer unattended. Keep children and pets away from the fryer.
  • Don’t overload outlets, power strips or extension cords and never allow cords to dangle off kitchen counters or any other surface.
  • Avoid using real candles as part of decorations and remember to always exercise basic safety when using candles throughout the home. Never leave children alone in a room with a lit candle.
  • Never leave a lighted Christmas tree or other decorative lighting displays unattended. Turn lights off when leaving the home or going to bed. Inspect lights for exposed or frayed wires, loose connections, and broken sockets. Do not overload extension cords or outlets and do not place an electrical cord under a rug.
  • Understand that natural cut Christmas trees always involve some fire risk. To minimize the risk, choose a fresh tree and keep it watered at all times. Do not put the tree within three feet of a fireplace, space heater, radiator or heat vent.
  • Decorate with children in mind. Trim protruding branches at or below a child’s eye level and keep lights out of reach. Do not put ornaments that have small parts or metal hooks, or look like food or candy, on the lower branches where small children can reach them.
  • Do not burn Christmas tree branches, treated wood, or wrapping paper in a home fireplace.


Fire Marshal Bean reminds everyone to check smoke and carbon monoxide detectors along with fire extinguishers in advance of the holidays and entertaining to make sure they are working properly. Also, review home fire escape plans with all family members and particularly with overnight guests who will be staying in a home they are not familiar with. 


For more information, call 573-751-5432 or e-mail