Fire Chief Offers Thanksgiving Safety Tips on No. 1 Day for Home Fires in Massachusetts

Hamilton Fire DepartmentThanksgiving is the single day with the most home fires in Massachusetts and Hamilton Fire Chief Phil Stevens has issued a reminder about some home fire safety tips.

Thanksgiving has more than twice as many fires as the next single day – Christmas Day, Dec. 25.

“Thanksgiving is a wonderful family holiday, but the day can be ruined with a cooking or candle fire, a burn injury or a carbon monoxide incident from long-term use of the oven,” said State Fire Marshal Stephen D. Coan. “Every home should have working smoke and carbon monoxide (CO) alarms.”

Last Thanksgiving, for example, there were several serious fires in Massachusetts, according to the State Fire Marshal’s office.

The Boston Fire Department was able to quickly put out a cooking fire in an apartment building last Thanksgiving at about 2 p.m. Smoke alarms alerted occupants and no one was injured. That same day, at 2:25 p.m., the Worcester Fire Department was called to a cooking fire at a 3-unit apartment building. Smoke alarms did not alert the occupants, but fortunately no one was injured. Later in the day, at 8:22 p.m., the Hyannis Fire Department responded to a cooking fire in a single-family home. The fire began in the oven. No one was injured at this fire. Alarms were present but failed to operate because the batteries were missing.

Cooking Safety Tips

Cooking is the leading cause of fires in the home and the leading cause of fire injuries, so it is not surprising that 87% of Thanksgiving Day fires were caused by cooking. Stevens offers these cooking fire safety tips:

  • Remember to “stand by your pan” and stay in the kitchen when boiling, frying or broiling.
  • Use a timer when baking or roasting and never leave the house with the oven running.
  • The best way to respond to a stovetop fire is to “put a lid on it” and turn off the heat.
  • The best way to respond to an oven or broiler fire is to keep the doors closed and turn off the heat.
  • If the fire is not quickly snuffed out, leave the house and call the fire department.
  • Wear short or tight-fitting sleeves when cooking.
  • Keep children 3-feet away from the stove for safety to prevent burns.
  • Turn pot handles inward over the stove.
  • Run cool water on burns; call 9-1-1 for more serious burn injuries.

Gas Ovens: A Source of CO

Generally, the confined space of a closed gas oven used for cooking does not produce enough carbon monoxide (CO) to be of concern, unless you are using it for several hours like when roasting a turkey. If you have a kitchen exhaust fan, use it; if not, crack a window for fresh air when using the gas oven for an extended period of time.


Candles make any holiday table festive, but it is important to follow some safety tips when using candles.

  • Burn candles inside a 1-foot circle of safety free of anything that can burn.
  • Think twice about lighting the candles on that lovely centerpiece if it means you can’t follow the 1-foot circle of safety rule.
  • Use extra care with candles when children and pets are around.
  • Consider using flameless, battery-operated candles instead.
  • Blow out candles when leaving the room; don’t leave candles burning unattended.
  • Use non-combustibles holders or saucers.
  • Keep all matches and lighters out of reach of children.
  • Remember to stop, drop, cover and roll if clothing ignites.

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