For Immediate Release: December 7, 2011

State Fire Marshal Goodwin Has Strict Orders for a Safe Holiday Season!

Raleigh -- Insurance Commissioner and State Fire Marshal Wayne Goodwin is launching the holiday season with strict "orders" for North Carolinians to follow safety tips to protect their homes and families.

"Winter holidays are a time of celebration, and that means more cooking, home decorating and entertainingall of which can cause an increased risk of fire and other unintentional mishaps," said Goodwin. "To ensure that 2011 ends with a happy, fun and safe holiday season, it is so important for families to keep safety in mind."

* Consider the following facts and safety tips:

In 2010, 14,000 people visited the emergency room as a result of falls and other injuries related to decorating their homes for the holidays.

During 2005-2009, Christmas trees were the items first ignited in an estimated average of 240 reported home structure fires per year. These fires caused an estimated average of 13 civilian deaths, 27 civilian injuries, and $16.7 million in direct property damage per year.

Last year, 15,000 home fires were started by candles. Those fires caused 166 deaths and one-third of those occurred in the bedroom. Candle fires usually peak in December.

Four out of 10 home fires start in the kitchen.

Smoking is the leading cause of fatal fires in the U.S., causing one of every four fire deaths, according to the National Fire Protection Association. While the overall incidence of house fires is falling, the number of fires started by cigarettes is rising.

In 2010, there were 181,900 toy-related injuries to children under the age of five.

In 2010, 3,400 button batteries - like those found in electronic toys, remote controls and greeting cards - were swallowed by children, causing choking and burns to the esophagus.

Half of all home fires occur in December, January and February, according to the United States Fire Administration and National Fire Protection Association.

* Nationwide fire and injury statistics provided by the United States Fire Administration and National Fire Protection Association. Toy- and battery-related statistics provided by Safe Kids USA and the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.