MedStar and Area Fire Departments Urge Cold Weather & Thanksgiving Safety

MedStar and Area Fire Departments Urge Cold Weather & Thanksgiving Safety


Fort Worth, TX — Temperatures in the Metroplex are expected to dip into the 30’s this weekend, and it’s also the start of the Thanksgiving holiday. Historically, MedStar sees a jump in the number of calls related to the cooler weather and Thanksgiving. Area fire departments and MedStar offer these tips for all area residents to help keep the holiday safe.


Carbon Monoxide Poisoning:

As the weather cools, it is not uncommon for residents to crank up the heat, or use supplemental heating systems in their homes. “Unfortunately, a buildup of carbon monoxide can result from a faulty heating system, or the use of supplemental heating devices”, explains Doug Spears, the Chief of Saginaw Fire Department. “Carbon monoxide is an odorless, colorless gas created when fuels (such as gasoline, wood, coal, natural gas, propane, and oil) burn incompletely. In the home, heating and cooking equipment that burn fuel can be sources of carbon monoxide.”

“Carbon monoxide poisoning can be especially dangerous because people may suffer significant medical problems before anyone even realizes there's a problem” explains Dr. Neal Richmond, the area’s EMS Medical Director. Symptoms of CO poisoning may mimic flu symptoms including headache, dizziness, shortness of breath, nausea, or vomiting. Last November and December, MedStar responded to 24 carbon monoxide related 911 calls.

The National Fire Protection Association recommends the following tips to keep you and your family safe:

  • CO alarms should be installed in a central location outside each sleeping area and on every level of the home and in other locations where required by applicable laws, codes or standards.
  • Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for placement and mounting height.
  • Call 911 if the CO alarm sounds.
  • Test CO alarms at least once a month; replace them according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
  • If the CO alarm sounds, immediately move to a fresh air location outdoors or by an open window or door. Make sure everyone inside the home is accounted for. Call for help from a fresh air location and stay there until emergency personnel arrive.
  • A generator should be used in a well-ventilated location outdoors away from windows, doors and vent openings.
  • Gas or charcoal grills can produce CO — only use outside.



Thanksgiving Safety:

Millions of people will travel to spend their Thanksgiving holiday with loved ones and MedStar typically sees a spike in the number of crashes and medical emergencies over the holiday weekend. MedStar’s CEO, Doug Hooten states “Many people in our community are out and about over the Thanksgiving weekend and we want to help make sure the long weekend is as safe as possible - everyone should use their seat belts and please don’t drink and drive. Drivers should be well rested, during long trips, rotate drivers, and, drivers should minimize distraction, giving their full attention to the road.” Hooten adds, “If you have loved one’s who don’t drive often, offer to have someone pick them up for Thanksgiving, with the added traffic congestion, it’s not generally a good time for inexperienced drivers to drive over the holiday weekend.”

It is also a time when cooks spend a lot of time in the kitchen preparing that special family meal. Here are tips to avoid a cooking fire while whipping up you Thanksgiving dinner.

“Cooking is the number one cause of home fires, so we want to provide information cooks can follow to avoid a fire while they are preparing that special family meal” says Rudy Jackson, Fort Worth Fire Chief. “Cooks will often be distracted on Thanksgiving with all the activity, but we encourage everyone in the kitchen to focus on safety, perhaps even consider doing what we do in the fire service during special events – assign a ‘safety officer’ to monitor what’s happening in the kitchen if the family gathering will be especially large.” Haltom City Fire Chief, Steve Ross, offers another tip, “Cook’s should avoid wearing loose clothing or dangling sleeves while preparing the holiday meal. Never leave the stove unattended – if the cook has to leave the kitchen, even for a short time, they should turn off the stove”, explains Ross.

More cooking safety tips offered by the Red Cross include:

  • Check food regularly.
  • Use a timer as a reminder that the stove or oven is on.
  • Keep children and pets away from the cooking area.
  • Keep anything that can catch fire - pot holders, oven mitts, wooden utensils, paper or plastic bags, food packaging, and towels or curtains—away from the stove, oven or any other appliance in the kitchen that generates heat.
  • Clean cooking surfaces on a regular basis to prevent grease buildup.
  • Consider purchasing a fire extinguisher to keep in the kitchen.
  • Always check the kitchen before going to bed or leaving the home to make sure all stoves, ovens, and small appliances are turned off.

MedStar and all area fire departments wish everyone a happy and safe Thanksgiving holiday!