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OSU-OKC Fire Protection director offers tips for a safe holiday season

OSU-OKC Fire Protection director offers tips for a safe holiday season

As temperatures begin to dip and families turn their attention to the upcoming holiday season, officials with the Oklahoma State University-Oklahoma City Fire Protection Program are reminding local residents to keep safety top-of-mind this year.

“Thanksgiving and Christmas are the times people should be enjoying their families and the holiday season,” said Joe Bennett, Oklahoma State University-Oklahoma City (OSU-OKC) Fire Protection Program director. “The last thing anyone wants is to have their season disrupted by a safety issue.”

Bennett said there are several common holiday season safety concerns that residents can be mindful of in order to have a safe and enjoyable November and December:

Space heaters, fireplaces and candles: Thousands of deaths are caused each year by fire, burns and other fire-related injuries, and December is the top month for fires caused by candles in the home, Bennett said. Homeowners should remember to keep anything flammable at least three feet away from a heat source, and to have a fire extinguisher and working smoke detectors in their residence. Space heaters should be turned off when residents leave a room or go to bed, and wood-burning fireplaces should be cleaned and inspected each year before use.

Turkey fryers: The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission reports that since 2004, there have been more than 100 reported turkey fryer incidents, including burns, explosions and carbon monoxide poisoning. These incidents have led to more than $5 million in property loss. Those wanting to fry a turkey should remember to fully defrost and dry the turkey before placing it in the oil. The fryer should never be left unattended and a grease-rated fire extinguisher should be kept on-hand. In addition, the fryer should be located away from any combustible plants, trees or structures, and should not be used in rain or snow.

Holiday decorating: Decorating for the holidays is a common practice, but emergency rooms see thousands of injuries involving holiday decorating every season, Bennett said. He advises residents decorate their tree with kids in mind. This means avoiding highly fragile ornaments and ornaments that look like food. If using a live tree, be sure the tree is properly hydrated and kept away from heat sources. When stringing outdoor lights, be mindful of safety on ladders and roofs, and pay attention to any frayed wires, broken sockets or loose connections.

Choosing the correct toy: It’s important when choosing toys for infants or small children to avoid small parts that might prove to be a choking hazard, or button batteries that can be swallowed and be fatal. Shoppers should seek toys that are age-appropriate and should be on the lookout for recalls due to safety issues.

Food poisoning: Improper food-handling and preparation can lead to serious illness. Holiday chefs should remember to keep raw meat, poultry and seafood away from other foods, during both shopping and preparation. The holiday turkey should be cooked to a minimum internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit. Once food is served, hot foods should be kept hot and cold foods should be kept cold. Any perishable foods left out for two hours or more should be discarded.

Holiday travel: Many people choose to travel during the holidays by automobile, which has the highest fatality rate of any major form of transportation. Experts recommend that drivers monitor their route for disruptions ahead of time and minimize distractions while behind the wheel. Motorists should plan to leave enough time to reach their destination so that they don’t feel they need to speed on the roadway. Lastly the driver and all passengers should remember to use their seat belt, and all infants and toddlers should be secured in a properly installed car seat or booster.

For more information about the OSU-OKC Fire Protection program, go to, or call (405) 945-8762.