Thanksgiving Day began a month-long holiday season, and State Fire Marshal Paul Merriman urges South Dakotans to celebrate the season but be aware of the added potential for fires.

Starting Thanksgiving Day, the threat of fires in the kitchen triples. The holiday season means more cooking, Christmas trees in homes, holiday lighting and decorative candles, Merriman said. Each of those things is a potential fire risk.

The potential fire can be reduced by:

  1. Wearing clothing with tightfitting sleeves when you cook.
  2. Keeping potholders, oven mitts, wooden utensils, paper and plastic bags, towels and anything else that can burn, away from your stovetop.
  3. Turning off burners if you leave the kitchen.
  4. Cleaning up food and grease from burners and stovetops.
  5. If you have a natural tree in your home, check the amount of water in the stand each day. A fresh tree can take in up to a quart of water a day.
  6. Place the tree away from heat sources such as fireplaces and heaters, and don't place it in an exit path.
  7. Never use candles on or near a tree. Make sure the lights you use are UL listed and neither frayed nor damaged.
  8. Don't use outdoor lights indoors or indoor lights outdoors.
  9. Don't overload electrical circuits. Use approved circuit strips, and turn off all Christmas lights before leaving the home or retiring for the evening.
  10. Put lit candles in glass safety globes, and keep lit candles away from drafty windows and doorways.
  11. Avoid the temptation to burn cardboard boxes or holiday wrapping paper in a fireplace. Those materials burn at very high temperatures and not all fireplaces are suited to burn those materials.

--From South Dakota Ag Connection, used with permission.