Harrisburg, PA – As residents prepare for Thanksgiving and other holiday meals, members of the Wolf Administration are reminding Pennsylvanians of several important safety tips to ensure enjoyable times are had by all.
The U.S. Fire Administration reports that nearly 2,400 house fires occur nationwide on Thanksgiving, causing numerous fatalities, injuries, and $19 million in property loss. Many of these home fires are due to deep-frying accidents.
“More cooking fires occur during the Thanksgiving holiday than any other day of the year; in fact, cooking is the number one cause of house fires in the commonwealth,” said State Fire Commissioner Bruce Trego. “Furthermore, Pennsylvania is routinely among the states with the highest number of turkey fryer incidents, and cooking fires.”
Here are some tips to keep you, your guests and your property safe:
- Read the turkey fryer owner’s manual thoroughly for proper set-up and safety tips.
- Do not deep fry your turkey inside your garage, on your porch or deck, or inside your home.
- Use your fryer outside, away from trees, walls, fences and other structures.
- Make sure the turkey is completely thawed before frying (hot oil and ice/water do not mix).
- Use the correct amount of oil. Overfilled fryers increase the likelihood of oil spilling out of the pot and hitting the burner causing flames to engulf the entire unit.
- Never leave the fryer unattended. Many fryers lack thermostats to prevent overheating.
- Keep children and pets away from the fryer.
- Use proper hand protection. Lids and handles of the cooking pot get dangerously hot, posing severe burn hazards.
- Have an all-purpose fire extinguisher nearby. Never use water to extinguish an oil fire.
Homeowners insurance policies will cover items such as the structure of your home, your personal belongings and liability protection for injury to your guests, but it is best to do what you can to avoid these types of insurance claims in the first place. However, it’s important to note that if you rent, your belongings will not be covered unless you have a renter’s insurance policy. Your landlord’s insurance will likely cover the building, but not the contents you own, so if you rent, make sure you have renter’s insurance.
“Consumers should review their homeowners or renter’s insurance to make sure the coverage allotted for contents is enough to cover their belongings,” Insurance Commissioner Jessica Altman said. “Most policies have specific, lower limits for valuable items such as electronics, jewelry and firearms.”
Additionally, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that approximately 48 million people get sick, 128,000 are hospitalized and 3,000 die from foodborne diseases each year in the United States. There are more than 250 different types of foodborne illnesses. Common symptoms include diarrhea, nausea, stomach cramps and vomiting.
“Foodborne illnesses are common, but they are also preventable,” Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine said. “Germs that can make you sick grow quickly when food is lukewarm, which is why it is essential to keep cold foods cold and hot foods hot. Knowing the proper ways to prepare and store food will help keep you and your loved ones safe this holiday season.”
Most people with a foodborne illness get better without medical treatment, but those with severe symptoms should visit their doctor. Some illnesses can cause long-term health problems or even death. Infections spread by food can cause: chronic arthritis; brain and nerve damage; or Hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS) causing kidney failure.
To prevent the spread of foodborne illnesses, the CDC recommends you remember the following four steps: clean; separate; cook; and chill.
- Cleaning hands, utensils, countertops, and fresh foods prevents the spread of germs.
- Separating foods prevents cross-contamination and decreases the spread of germs. For instance, use separate cutting boards and plates for raw meats, vegetables, etc. Do not store raw meats above cooked foods or vegetables.
- Cooking foods to the proper temperature prevents foodborne illnesses by ensuring that germs are killed by the high heat. Use food thermometers. Different types of food have different temperature requirements.
- Refrigerating food promptly prevents harmful bacteria from multiplying and making you sick. Always keep your refrigerator below 40 degree and chill perishable foods within two hours.
If you have a food-related illness, your doctor or the laboratory that did the testing will report it to the department. You can also call 1-877-PA-HEALTH to speak with a public health nurse.
Visit www.BeFireSafePA.com for additional fire safety tips, and the turkey fryer factsheet. For additional resources regarding homeowners or renter’s insurance, visit www.insurance.pa.gov, or call the Insurance Department’s Consumer Services Bureau at 1-877-881-6388. Additional information on foodborne diseases can be found on the Department of Health’s website at www.health.pa.gov.MEDIA CONTACTS:
L. Paul Vezzetti, OSFC, 717-651-2169;
Thaisa Jones, Insurance, 717-214-4781;
Brittany Lauffer, Health, 717-787-1783