ST. PAUL, Minn. — Minnesota is on pace to experience one of its lowest numbers of annual fire fatalities.
While zero is the only acceptable number, State Fire Marshal Jerry Rosendahl wants the trend to continue and urges all Minnesotans to take extra caution during the holiday season — a historically dangerous time for residential fires.
“Holiday distractions can cause people to forget about fire safety and that can be a fatal mistake,” Rosendahl said. “Make sure your holiday season stays enjoyable. Review the simple kitchen and heating rules that can keep you and your family safe.”
There have been 30 fire-related deaths to date in 2013, compared with 44 this time last year. The state’s all-time low fire-death figure was 35 in 2009; the high was 134 in 1976.
2012 holiday fire death statistics
12:01 a.m. Thursday through midnight Sunday
- Fire deaths: 3 (50 percent of November’s total fire deaths)
- Fire injuries: 1
12:01 a.m. Christmas Eve through midnight Jan. 1
- Fire deaths: 3 (50 percent of December’s total fire deaths)
- Fire injures 4
Stove fires are particularly dangerous because they don’t behave like other fires. Most of them are grease-fueled, and people who panic and use water or a fire extinguisher on a stove fire will only spread the flames.
Stove fires should be smothered. Put a lid on the pan or close the oven; fire can’t live without air.
Other tips that can save your holiday from ruin
- Keep a close eye on food cooking on the stovetop.
- Keep a tight lid next to each pot or pan.
- Keep rags, pot holders, paper towel and curtains away from the stove.
- Roll up your sleeves and keep your apron snug.
- Clean cooking surfaces, oven and equipment often; grease and heat are a deadly combination.
- Keep children out of the kitchen, away from the stove.
- Make sure your smoke alarms are working.
“Holiday cooking can be time-consuming, complicated and messy,” Rosendahl said. “But I assure you that following a half-dozen simple rules can keep us all safe and put an end to these preventable fire deaths.”
About the Minnesota Department of Public Safety
The Minnesota Department of Public Safety (DPS) comprises 11 divisions where 2,100 employees operate programs in the areas of law enforcement, crime victim assistance, traffic safety, alcohol and gambling, emergency communications, fire safety, pipeline safety, driver licensing, vehicle registration and emergency management. DPS activity is anchored by three core principles: education, enforcement and prevention.
About the State Fire Marshal Division
The mission of the Minnesota Department of Public Safety State Fire Marshal Division is to protect lives and property by fostering a fire-safe environment through fire/arson investigation, code development and enforcement, regulation, data collection and public education. Data collected by the State Fire Marshal Division from fire departments statewide is analyzed and used to determine the best methods of public education and enforcement to improve fire safety in our state.
State Fire Marshal Division 2012 annual statistics:
- One fire was reported every 32 minutes.
- Fifty people died in fires.
- Dollar-loss to fires averaged $556 per minute.