November 20, 2019

Thanksgiving marks start of period of higher fire risk as more people gather indoors to celebrate the holidays

State Fire Marshal urges Missourians to put safety first as they cook, decorate and gather for family reunions and holiday parties

Thanksgiving begins a five-week period of elevated fire risks, with the three tops days of the year for cooking fires all occurring between Thanksgiving and New Year’s, according to State Fire Marshal Tim Bean. Bean urges Missourians to take steps in advance as they plan their celebrations to avoid preventable fires.

“By taking into account the fire risks posed by candles, holiday decorations, Christmas trees, turkey fryers and increased cooking in general, we can help ensure a safer holiday season for everyone,” Fire Marshal Bean said. “Taking a few simple precautions can greatly reduce the risk of fires and have very little impact on family holiday traditions.”

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 and Christmas Eve.
  • The peak days for candle fires are Christmas, New Year’s Day and NewYear’s Eve.
  • From 2013 to 2017, U.S. fire departments responded to an estimated average of 780 home fires per year that began with decorations, excluding Christmas trees, and an average of 160 fires started by Christmas trees.
  • About 44 percent of decoration fires started because the item was too close to a heat source like a candle or equipment.
  • About 20 percent of decoration fires start in the kitchen, and about 16 percent in the living room, family room or den.


Remember these holiday fire safety tips when cooking:

  • Someone should remain in the kitchen when cooking on the stovetop and remain at home when cooking a turkey so you can check 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: 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.


Remember these fire safety tips concerning Christmas trees, candles and decorations:

  • 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. Installing smoke alarms reduces the chance of dying in a fire by more than one-half. 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. Everyone, including guests, should know two ways out of each room in the residence. 


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