Harrisburg, PA – Pennsylvania Insurance Commissioner Michael Humphreys, Department of Health, Acting Secretary Dr. Debra L. Bogenand State Fire Commissioner Thomas Cook urged Pennsylvanians to heed safety tips for the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday.
“This holiday season, as we gather to celebrate with loved ones, safety for you, your family and your home should be a top priority,” said Commissioner Humphreys. “In the event of an unfortunate accident, homeowners insurance and renters insurance will cover certain damages, but it’s best to follow safety guidelines to make sure the worst doesn’t happen in the first place.” We urge you this holiday to be careful when cooking to avoid potentially dangerous situations, prevent costly repairs, and have a happy and safe Thanksgiving.”
Every year, home cooks enter their kitchens on Thanksgiving Day to prepare a delicious turkey meal that is often the centerpiece of the holiday. However, this is not without risk, as the US Fire Administration reports that the average number of residential fires reported on Thanksgiving Day is more than twice (2.3 times higher) than the average number of residential fires on all other days . An average of 2,300 house fires occur nationwide on Thanksgiving Day, causing deaths, injuries and $26 million in property losses.
In the event that the worst happens, standard homeowner’s insurance policies will cover items such as the home’s structure, personal belongings and guest injury liability protection. However, filing a property damage claim may increase the homeowner’s insurance premium, and the homeowner will be responsible for paying any policy deductible out of pocket.
It is also important to note that if someone is renting, belongings will not be covered unless they have a renter’s insurance policy. Landlord insurance will likely cover the building, but not any personal contents.
Many Thanksgiving home fires are due to frying accidents. For some, deep frying a turkey can be a tasty alternative to the traditional oven roasting method, but deep fryers pose significant risks to personal safety and property without proper safety measures.
“Each year, cooking fires remain a consistent cause of home fires, peaking around the Thanksgiving holiday,” said Commissioner Cook. “Turkey fryers and careless cooking are consistently cited as the leading causes of these fires, and the life-changing outcome of a house fire is made all the more tragic knowing that they are entirely preventable. Taking the proper precautions can and will protect the lives and property of you and your loved ones.”
Here are some tips to keep families, guests and property safe:
- Read your turkey fryer owner’s manual carefully for proper setup and safety tips
- Make sure turkey is completely thawed before frying (hot oil and ice/water don’t mix)
- Use the right amount of oil; overfilled fryers increase the likelihood of oil leaking out of the pan and hitting the burner, causing flames to engulf the entire unit
- Never leave the fryer unattended; many fryers do not have thermostats to prevent overheating
- Do not deep fry your turkey in your garage, on your porch or deck, or in your home
- Have a universal fire extinguisher nearby; never use water to extinguish an oil fire
- Keep children and pets away from all cooking surfaces
- Use appropriate hand protection; cookware lids and handles become dangerously hot, creating a serious burn hazard
- Make sure that all attention is given to cooking; do not consume alcohol while cooking.
“It’s important to use proper food safety practices as people prepare their holiday meals. Unfortunately, foodborne illnesses are common around the holidays, but they can be prevented,” said Dr. The book. “I encourage residents to clean, separate, cook and refrigerate their food properly to prevent themselves and others from getting sick.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends the following tips to prevent food poisoning or foodborne illness during the holidays:
- Store meat, poultry, seafood and eggs separately from all other foods in the grocery store and in the refrigerator. Prevent juices from meat, chicken, turkey and seafood from dripping or leaking onto other foods by storing them in containers or sealed plastic bags. Store eggs in their original carton in the main compartment of the refrigerator.
- Cook foods thoroughly and use a food thermometer to make sure foods are cooked to a safe internal temperature to kill germs.
- Keep food out of the danger zone, which is between 40°F and 140°F, as bacteria can grow rapidly between these temperatures.
- Use pasteurized eggs for dishes containing raw eggs.
- Don’t eat raw dough or dough because they can contain harmful germs like E. coli and Salmonella.
- Thaw your turkey safely in a sink of cold water or in the microwave. Avoid defrosting food on the counter.
- Wash your hands with soap and water:
- Before, during and after food preparation;
- Before eating food;
- After handling pet food or pet trays or touching pets;
- After using the toilet;
- After changing diapers or cleaning a child who has used the toilet;
- After touching garbage;
- Before and after caring for a sick person;
- Before and after treatment of a cut or wound; and
- After blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing.
Additional information about foodborne illness can be found on the Department of Health website at www.health.pa.gov/foodborne-illness or follow us on Facebook and x.
For additional fire safety information, including seasonal fire safety tips, visit www.osfc.pa.gov.
For additional resources on homeowners or renters insurance, visit www.insurance.pa.gov or call the Insurance Division’s Consumer Services Bureau at 1-877-881-6388.
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