Fire chief offers holiday safety tips


Kids, turkeys, extension cords and candles need a little extra care during the holiday season, according to Thomas A. Youtz, Washington Court House Fire Department Chief. For a safe and enjoyable holiday, Chief Youtz has a few safety precautions to keep in mind.


One of the biggest concerns Youtz has for kids during the holidays is when they want to come into the kitchen to try to help mom or dad.

“You do need to keep them away from the stoves and those kinds of things because those things are hot. They will burn. If they do get a burn, one of the things you’ll want to do is make sure you put it under cold water right away. And then if you need to, call either the emergency squad or go to one of the urgent care places, or the ER, depending on how bad it is,” said Youtz.

Youtz also recommends keeping open flames, such as candles, away from where kids will be.


Youtz said the fire station has responded to a few fires over the years when people try to deep fry their turkeys in a deep fryer. For people who are deep frying their turkeys this year, Youtz said there’s a few things that people should pay attention to.

“A lot of times what they will do is take a frozen turkey and think, ‘Well, I’ll just stick it right in hot oil.’ Well, the problem with that is, is normally that makes it really bubble up and out. If you’ve ever fried any frozen food at all, it automatically makes that oil bubble up because it’s cold,” Youtz said. “And what we’ve found before, we’ve had a couple fires due to the fact they’ve done that and the actual deep fryer is inside the garage. Those things are not made to be inside the garage. They’re made to be outside. So you keep them away from the home so you don’t have those problems.”

When it comes to turkey deep fryers, Youtz said it’s an open flame similar to an open flame in a fireplace. And while a fireplace is built for an open flame inside the home, a turkey deep fryer isn’t built for having an open flame indoors.

“You’ve taken an actual open flame, you’ve put it inside, then what you’ve done is, you’ve taken hot oil and then you add a frozen turkey to it and a lot of times it tends to turn out to be a disaster. Basically they have a garage fire. Once we got there, thank God it wasn’t a major fire or anything, but it just tends to smoke up everything and burn, depending on what you’ve got sitting around it, because, as I said, the grease boils over and then it boils over onto that open flame,” Youtz said.

Most turkey fryers use propane, said Youtz. “If you’re going to deep fry a turkey, please do it outside away from the garage and the home.”

Extension cords

For people using regular extension cords, Youtz recommends plugging directly into an outlet or into a surge protector.

“The reason being is, if something does go wrong, that’s where your surge protector works to shut things down and also your circuit breakers in your panel box. We’ve seen that because a lot of people use those little brown, inexpensive cords. They put different things on those, like a Crock-pot, and they’ll add maybe a second Crock-pot to it, and what you’re doing is, you’re overloading the extension cord.”

Youtz also recommends not coiling or balling up an extension cord.

“The extension cord is longer than what they want, they leave it balled up, and it has heat on it, and a lot of times they’ll hide it behind things to where now you’re adding more heat because as electric travels through that extension cord, there is heat. Then the heat doesn’t have a chance to escape out,” said Youtz. “If you’re going to have to plug extra things into an outlet, please use a surge protector, or plug things directly into an outlet. That way you know you’re going right into that outlet. Don’t use the little brown or white extension cords, green, because now we’re getting toward Christmas and they come in green and so forth.”


Youtz said they see a lot of fire calls at different times throughout the year due to candles.

“People accidentally knock them over on the table and those kind of things. My suggestion there is, buy the battery operated candles. I know they’re a lot more expensive but you can get a lot more years of use out of them than what you can with actually burning,” said Youtz.

But for people who still burn candles, Youtz said, “I know there’s people who light candles so we just say, please be very careful with those. Make sure you got the glass globe around them, that’s always a big help there in case they fall over or something. At least it’s got that little bit of protection.”

Overall, Youtz said that they hope fire safety education will help people so that if there is a fire during the holidays, at least it will be a small one. “We hope everybody has a very safe and enjoyable holiday. The big thing is, just use common sense and you’ll be fine.”

By Ashley Bunton

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Reach Ashley at (740) 313-0355 or on Twitter @ashbunton

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