Heating Safety

There is something about the winter months and curling up with a good book by the fireplace. But did you know that heating equipment is one of the leading causes of home fire deaths? With a few simple safety tips and precautions you can prevent most heating fires from happening.

FACT:

Half of home heating fires are reported during the months of December, January, and February.

BE WARM AND SAFE THIS WINTER!

  • Keep anything that can burn at least three-feet away from heating equipment, like the furnace, fireplace, wood stove,
  • or portable space heater.  
  • Have a three-foot “kid-free zone”around open fires and space heaters. 
  • Never use your oven to heat your home. 
  • Have a qualified professional install stationary space heating equipment, water heaters or central heating equipment according to the local codes and manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Have heating equipment and chimneys cleaned and inspected every year by a qualified professional. 
  • Remember to turn portable heaters off when leaving the room or going to bed.
  • Always use the right kind of fuel, specified by the manufacturer, for fuel burning space heaters.
  • Make sure the fireplace has a sturdy screen to stop sparks from flying into the room. Ashes should be cool before putting them in a metal container. Keep the container a safe distance away from your home.

Test smoke alarms monthly.

Heating Equipment Smarts

  • Install wood burning stoves following manufacturer’s instructions or have a professional do the installation.
  • All fuel-burning equipment should be vented to the outside to avoid carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning.
  • Install and maintain CO alarms to avoid the risk of CO poisoning. If you smell gas in your gas heater, do not
    light the appliance. Leave the home immediately and call your local fire department or gas company

There is nothing like sitting by an open fire on a cold night. Indoor and outdoor portable ethanol burning fireplaces have become more popular in recent years. While these products provide ambiance and a little warmth, keep in mind the fuel, device and open flame can be dangerous.

Fireplace Safety

  • A portable ethanol burning fireplace, and the fuel, should only be used by adults.
  • Clean up any fuel spillage and be sure all liquid has evaporated before lighting the fireplace. 
  • Light the fireplace using a utility lighter or long match.
  • An adult should always be present when a portable fireplace is burning.
  • Place the fireplace on a sturdy surface away from table edges.
  • It’s a good idea to crack a window open for a fresh supply of air.
  • Never try to move a lit fireplace or one that is still hot.
  • Don’t pour ethanol fuel in a device that is lit or not completely cool. It may result in a fire or injury.
  • Allow the device to cool down for at least 15 minutes before refueling.
  • Extinguish the flame when you leave the room, home or go to sleep.

General Fire Safety

  • Keep anything that can burn, children and pets at least 3 feet from the fireplace.
  • Store lighters and matches out of the reach of children, in a locked cabinet.

Candles may be pretty to look at but they are a cause of home fires — and home fire deaths. Remember, a candle is an open flame, 
which means that it can easily ignite anything that can burn. 

“CANDLE WITH CARE”

  • Blow out all candles when you leave the room or go to bed. Avoid the use of candles in the bedroom and other areas where people may fall asleep.
  • Keep candles at least 12 inches away from anything that can burn.

If you do burn candles, make sure that you...

  • Use candle holders that are sturdy, and won’t tip over easily.
  • Put candle holders on a sturdy, uncluttered surface.
  • Light candles carefully. Keep your hair and any loose clothing away from the flame.
  • Don’t burn a candle all the way down — put it out before it gets too close to the holder or container.
  • Never use a candle if oxygen is used in the home.
  • Have flashlights and battery-powered lighting ready to use during a power outage. Never use candles.

Candles and Kids

Never leave a child alone in a room with a burning candle. Keep matches and lighters up high and out of children’s reach, in a locked cabinet.

FACTS:

• On average, a candle fire in the home is reported to a U.S. fire department every 30 minutes.
• Roughly one-third of home candle fires started in the bedroom.
• More than half of all candle fires start when things that can burn are too close to the candle.

Often called the silent killer, carbon monoxide is an invisible, odorless, colorless gas created when fuels (such as gasoline, wood, coal, natural gas, propane, oil, and methane) burn incompletely. In the home, heating and cooking equipment that burn fuel can be sources of carbon monoxide.

  • 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. For the best protection, interconnect all CO alarms throughout the home. When one sounds, they all sound.
  • Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for placement and mounting height.
  • Choose a CO alarm that has the label of a recognized testing laboratory.
  • Call your local fire department’s non-emergency number to find out what number to call if the CO alarm sounds.
  • Test CO alarms at least once a month; replace them according to the manufacturer’s instructions. 
  • If the audible trouble signal sounds, check for low batteries. If the battery is low, replace it. If it still sounds, call the fire department.
  • 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.
  • If you need to warm a vehicle, remove it from the garage immediately after starting it. Do not run a vehicle or other fueled engine or motor indoors, even if garage doors are open. Make sure the exhaust pipe of a running vehicle is not covered with snow. 
  • During and after a snowstorm, make sure vents for the dryer, furnace, stove, and fireplace are clear of snow build-up.
  • 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. 

HOME HEATING EQUIPMENT

Have fuel-burning heating equipment and chimneys inspected by a professional every year before cold weather sets in. When using a fireplace, open the flue for adequate ventilation. Never use your oven to heat your home. 

FACTS:

  • A person can be poisoned by a small amount of CO over a longer period of time or by a large amount of CO over a shorter amount of time.
  • In 2005, U.S. fire departments responded to an estimated 61,100 non-fire CO incidents in which carbon monoxide was found, or an average of seven calls per hour. 

 

 

Doing laundry is most likely part of your every day routine. But did you know how important taking care of your clothes dryer is to the safety of your home? With a few simple safety tips you can help prevent a clothes dryer fire.

  • Have your dryer installed and serviced by a professional.
  • Do not use the dryer without a lint filter. 
  • Make sure you clean the lint filter before or after each load of laundry. Remove lint that has collected around the drum.
  • Rigid or flexible metal venting material should be used to sustain proper air flow and drying time.
  • Make sure the air exhaust vent pipe is not restricted and the outdoor vent flap will open when the dryer is operating. Once a year, or more often if you notice that it is taking longer than normal for your clothes to dry, clean lint out of the vent pipe or have a dryer lint removal service do it for you.
  • Keep dryers in good working order. Gas dryers should be inspected by a professional to make sure that the gas line and connection are intact and free of leaks.
  • Make sure the right plug and outlet are used and that the machine is connected properly.
  • Follow the manufacturer’s operating instructions and don’t overload your dryer.
  • Turn the dryer off if you leave home or when you go to bed.

AND DON’T FORGET

  • Dryers should be properly grounded.
  • Check the outdoor vent flap to make sure it is not covered by snow.
  • Keep the area around your dryer clear of things that can burn, like boxes, cleaning supplies and clothing, etc. 
  • Clothes that have come in contact with flammable substances, like gasoline, paint thinner, or similar solvents should be laid 
    outside to dry, then can be washed and dried as usual.

FACT:

The leading cause of home clothes dryer fires is failure to clean them.

Flipping a light switch. Plugging in a coffeemaker. Charging a laptop computer. These are second nature for most of us. Electricity makes our lives easier. However, we need to be cautious and keep safety in mind.

SAFETY TIPS 

  • Have all electrical work done by a qualified electrician. 
  • When you are buying or remodeling a home, have it inspected by a qualified electrician.
  • Only plug one heat-producing appliance (such as a coffee maker, toaster, space heater, etc.) into a receptacle outlet at a time. 
  • Major appliances (refrigerators, dryers, washers, stoves, air conditioners, etc.) should be plugged directly into a wall receptacle outlet. Extension cords and plug strips should not be used.
  • Arc fault circuit interrupters (AFCIs) are a kind of circuit breaker that shuts off electricity when a dangerous condition occurs. Consider having them installed in your home. Use a qualified electrician. 
  • Use ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs) to reduce the risk of shock. GFCIs shut off an electrical circuit when it becomes a shock hazard. They should be installed inside the home in bathrooms, kitchens, garages and basements. All outdoor receptacles should be GFCI protected.
  • Test AFCIs and GFCIs once a month to make sure they are working properly. 
  • Check electrical cords to make sure they are not running across doorways or under carpets. Extension cords are intended for temporary use. Have a qualified electrician add more receptacle outlets so you don’t have to use extension cords.
  • Use light bulbs that match the recommended wattage on the lamp or fixture. There should be a sticker that indicates the maximum wattage light bulb to use.

IMPORTANT REMINDER

Call a qualified electrician or your landlord if you have:

  • Frequent problems with blowing fuses or tripping circuit breakers
  • A tingling feeling when you touch an electrical appliance
  • Discolored or warm wall outlets
  • A burning or rubbery smell coming from an appliance
  • Flickering or dimming lights
  • Sparks from an outlet

Plan Ahead! If a fire breaks out in your home, you may have only a few minutes to get out safely once the smoke alarm sounds. Everyone needs to know what to do and where to go if there is a fire.

SAFETY TIPS 

  • MAKE a home escape plan. Draw a map of your home showing all doors and windows. Discuss the plan with everyone in your home.
  • Know at least two ways out of every room, if possible. Make sure all doors and windows leading outside open easily.
  • Have an outside meeting place (like a tree, light pole or mailbox) a safe distance from the home where everyone should meet.
  • Practice your home fire drill at night and during the day with everyone in your home, twice a year.
  • Practice using different ways out.
  • Teach children how to escape on their own in case you can’t help them.
  • Close doors behind you as you leave.

IF THE ALARM SOUNDS...

  •  If the smoke alarm sounds, get out and stay out. Never go back inside for people or pets.
  •  If you have to escape through smoke, get low and go under the smoke to your way out.
  • Call the fire department from outside your home.

FACTS:

According to an NFPA survey, only one of every three American households have actually developed and practiced a home fire escape plan.

  • While 71% of Americans have an escape plan in case of a fire, only 45% of those have practiced it.
  • One-third of American households who made an estimate thought they would have at least 6 minutes before a fire in their home would become life-threatening. The time available is often less. 
  • And only 8% said their first thought on hearing a smoke alarm would be to get out!

There’s nothing like outdoor grilling. It’s one of the most popular ways to cook food. But, a grill placed too close to anything that can burn is a fire hazard. They can be very hot, causing burn injuries. Follow these simple tips and you will be on the way to safe grilling.

SAFETY TIPS

  • Propane and charcoal BBQ grills should only be used outdoors.
  • The grill should be placed well away from the home, deck railings and out from under eaves and overhanging branches.
  • Keep children and pets at least three feet away from the grill area.
  • Keep your grill clean by removing grease or fat buildup from the grills and in trays below the grill.
  • Never leave your grill unattended.
  • Always make sure your gas grill lid is open before lighting it.

CHARCOAL GRILLS

  • There are several ways to get the charcoal ready to use. Charcoal chimney starters allow you to start the charcoal using newspaper as a fuel.
  • If you use a starter fluid, use only charcoal starter fluid. Never add charcoal fluid or any other flammable liquids to the fire.
  • Keep charcoal fluid out of the reach of children and away from heat sources.
  • There are also electric charcoal starters, which do not use fire. Be sure to use an extension cord for outdoor use.
  • When you are finished grilling, let the coals completely cool before disposing in a metal container.

Propane Grills

Check the gas tank hose for leaks before using it for the first time each year. Apply a light soap and water solution to the hose. A propane leak will release bubbles. If your grill has a gas leak, by smell or the soapy bubble test, and there is no flame, turn off the gas tank and grill. If the leak stops, get the grill serviced by a professional before using it again. If the leak does not stop, call the fire department. If you smell 
gas while cooking, immediately get away from the grill and call the fire department. Do not move the grill. If the flame goes out, turn the grill and gas off and wait at least 15 minutes before re-lighting it

FACTS:

July is the peak month for grill fires.

  • Roughly half of the injuries involving grills are thermal burns.

Over 80% of fire deaths occur in the home. Home fire sprinklers can save lives and property from fire. They respond quickly and effectively
to fire, often extinguishing the fire before the fire department arrives. Only the sprinkler closest to the fire will activate, spraying water on the fire. Over 80% of fire deaths occur in the home. Home fire sprinklers can save lives and property from fire. They respond quickly and effectively to fire, often extinguishing the fire before the fire department arrives. Only the sprinkler closest to the fire will activate, spraying water on the fire.

SAFETY TIPS

  • Home fire sprinklers save lives and property. In many situations, a family who has survived a fire will also have their “home” to live in and enough of the items and space in their home to continue living their lives as they did before.
  • The cost of a home fire sprinkler system in a new home averages $1.61 per sprinklered square foot totaling an amount similar to what is spent for carpet upgrades, paving stone driveway or a whirlpool bath. Source: Fire Protection Research Foundation Study 2008.
  • A home fire sprinkler system can reduce the homeowner’s insurance premium.
  • Fire departments typically use roughly 10 times as much water as a fire sprinkler would use to contain a fire. Source: Fire Protection Research Foundation Study 2010.
  • Fire sprinklers are environmentally friendly. They can reduce the amount of water run-off and pollution, fire damage by up to 71%, and water usage to fight a home fire by as much as 91%. Source: FM Global and Home Fire Sprinkler Coalition Study 2010.
  • Cigar smoke or burnt toast will not activate a fire sprinkler. Only the high temperature of a fire will activate the sprinkler.
  • A home fire sprinkler system is easy to maintain. Just inspect your home to make sure the sprinklers are not blocked by something that would prevent the water from coming out such as paint and be sure the main control valve is never turned off.
  • Home fire sprinklers are effective in cold and warm climates. Guidelines have been created for the proper installation of systems to avoid pipes freezing. A home fire sprinkler system should be winterized the same as you winterize a domestic water supply.

And Don’t Forget...

  • If MOVING into an apartment or condominium building, make sure common areas and individual apartments are sprinklered
  • If building a new home or remodeling an existing home, consider installing a home fire sprinkler system

FACTS:

  • More than 2,500 people die in home fires each year.
  • The risk of dying in a reported home fire decreases by about 80% when the home is equipped with a fire sprinkler system.

Energy-saving compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFL) are becoming more common in homes and at work. In addition to using less electricity, they also have a positive impact on the global climate. Here are some important safety tips you should know about CFLs.
 

PURCHASE CFL LIGHT BULBS that have the listing label of a recognized testing laboratory. 
Light bulbs labeled by a recognized testing lab will ensure that the bulb meets the latest 
product safety standards.

  • If a CFL Breaks CFLs are made of glass and can break. Be careful when removing from packaging and installing or removing from a socket. If a CFL breaks:
    • OPEN a window to allow the room to air out for 5–10 minutes.
    • People and pets should LEAVE the room.
    • TURN OFF forced air heating and/or air conditioning.
    • COLLECT broken glass and visible powder using stiff cardboard, tape or a damp paper towel.
    • PLACE the debris in a glass container with a metal cover in a safe location outside until you can dispose of it .
    • CONTACT your local government to find out how to dispose of the jar containing the debris
    • CONTINUE airing out the room for several hours.
  • When a CFL Burns Out 
    • When a CFL bulb burns out it may smoke and the plastic base may blacken. This is normal and is not a fire safety issue.
    • CFLs should never be discarded with household trash. The Environmental Protection Agency recommends that consumers use local recycling options for CFLs. Contact your local government or visit epa.gov/cfl/cflrecycling or earth911.org to identify.

FACT

CFL bulbs contain a small trace of mercury within the glass. When broken, mercury will immediately dissipate into the air. Concentrations of mercury will likely approach zero in an hour or so. 

If buying or renting a manufactured home is in your future, make sure you keep fire safety in mind. By following a few tips and knowing the 
facts and the safety requirements for manufactured homes, you can help keep your family safe.

SAFETY TIPS

CHOOSE a home built after 1976 that has the HUD label certifying that it meets certain minimum safety standards.

  • Be sure your home has enough smoke alarms. You need a smoke alarm inside each bedroom, outside each sleeping area and in or near the family/live room area(s). For the best protection, interconnect all smoke alarms so when one sounds, they all sound.
  • TEST smoke alarms at least once a month.
  • HAVE a home fire escape plan that includes two ways out of every room and an outside meeting place. Make sure all ways out of the home are easy to use. Practice your fire drill at least twice a year.
  • If smoke alarms sound when you are cooking, consider moving the alarm further from the kitchen area or install a photoelectric type alarm which is less sensitive to cooking.
  • NEVER remove or disable a smoke alarm.
  • CONSIDER having a licensed electrician inspect the electrical system to be sure it is safe and meets the applicable National Electrical Code® requirements.
  • Always stay in the kitchen when frying on the stovetop. 
  • Have smokers smoke outside the home. Provide large, non-tip ashtrays and empty them frequently. Douse butts with water before throwing away

HEAT SENSE

Keep space heaters at least three feet away from anything that can burn. Buy space heaters with automatic shut-off switches. Turn off portable space heaters before falling asleep or when leaving a room. Never leave a lit candle unattended. Blow out candles when you leave the room or go to sleep. Keep gasoline, charcoal lighter and other flammable liquids locked in an outdoor shed. Never store items 
under the home. Store firewood away from the home.

FACT:

Smoke alarms are missing in half of all manufactured home fires. Since they are required to be sold with smoke alarms, this may mean people are removing them.

With busy lives, families rely on the microwave oven as a quick way to heat up a meal, warm up a drink or defrost dinner. While the 
convenience of the microwave oven is something we take for granted, safety should not be. By following a few simple safety tips you can prevent painful burns and possible fires.

SAFETY TIPS

PURCHASE a microwave oven that has the label of an independent testing laboratory. Make sure to complete and return the product registration card. This way the manufacturer can reach you if there is a recall on the product. 

  • PLUG the microwave oven directly into the wall outlet — never use an extension cord.
  • MAKE sure the microwave oven is at a safe height, within easy reach of all users.
  • OPEN food slowly, away from the face. Hot steam or the food itself can cause burns.
  • FOOD heats unevenly in microwave ovens. Stir and test before eating or giving to children.
  • NEVER heat a baby bottle in the microwave. Since a microwave oven heats unevenly, it can create hot pockets, leading to burns. Warm a bottle in a bowl of warm — not hot or boiling — water, or by running it under the tap.

MICROWAVE USE

Always supervise children when they are using a microwave oven. Use only microwave-safe food containers or dishes. Never use 
aluminum foil or metal in a microwave oven. If you have a fire in the microwave, leave the door closed, turn the oven off and unplug it from the wall. If the fire does not go out, get outside and call the fire department.

FACT:

Scald burns are the leading cause of injury from microwave ovens. 

Portable medical oxygen in the home has grown over the past decade. Medical oxygen adds a higher percentage of oxygen to the air a patient uses to breath. Fire needs oxygen to burn. If a fire should start in an oxygen-enriched area, the material burning will burn more quickly. 
Homes where medical oxygen is used need specific fire safety rules to keep people safe from fire and burns.

SAFETY TIPS 

  • There is no safe way to smoke in the home when oxygen is in use. If a patient is on oxygen, they should not smoke.
  • Candles, matches, wood stoves and even sparking toys, can be ignition sources and should not be used in the home.
  • Keep oxygen cylinders at least five feet from a heat source, open flames or electrical devices.
  • Body oil, hand lotion and items containing oil and grease can easily ignite. Keep oil and grease away where oxygen is in use.
  • Never use aerosol sprays containing combustible materials near the oxygen. 

FACTS:

  • Oxygen saturates fabric covered furniture, clothing, hair and bedding, making it easier for a fire to start and spread.
  • Smoking materials is the leading heat source resulting in medical oxygen related fires, injuries and deaths.

The kitchen is the heart of the home, especially at Thanksgiving. Kids love to be involved in holiday preparations. Safety in the kitchen is important, especially on Thanksgiving Day when there is a lot of activity and people at home.

  • Stay in the kitchen when you are cooking on the stove top so you can keep an eye on the food. 
  • Stay in the home when cooking your turkey and check on it frequently.
  • Keep children away from the stove. The stove will be hot and kids should stay 3 feet away.
  • Make sure kids stay away from hot food and liquids. The steam or splash from vegetables, gravy or coffee could cause serious burns. 
  • Keep the floor clear so you don’t trip over kids, toys, pocketbooks or bags.
  • Keep knives out of the reach of children.
  • Be sure electric cords from an electric knife, coffee maker, plate warmer or mixer are not dangling off the counter within easy reach of a child.
  • Keep matches and utility lighters out of the reach of children — up high in a locked cabinet.
  • Never leave children alone in room with a lit a candle.
  • Make sure your smoke alarms are working. Test them by pushing the test button.

Did you know?

Thanksgiving is the leading day of the year for home fires involving cooking equipment. 

Have activities that keep kids out of the kitchen during this busy time. Games, puzzles or books can keep them busy. Kids can get involved in Thanksgiving preparations with recipes that can be done outside the kitchen.