Kitchen Fire Video
Fire Prevention Tips with Winter Heating Concerns
With the colder months fast approaching, many of you will have concerns on how to heat your homes this winter. Some may be thinking of using alternative heating sources of which cause great concern in regards to fire safety and prevention.
Please review and adhere to the following fire safety issues with the use of alternative heating sources provided by the US Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPCS) www.cpcs.gov
Portable Space Heaters
Users should be aware of the following hazards when buying and using electric, gas, wood, or kerosene space heaters:
- Fires and burns caused by contact with or close proximity to the flame, heating element or hot surface area.
- Fires and explosions caused by flammable fuels or defective wiring.
- Indoor air pollution cause by improper venting or incomplete combustion of fuel-burning equipment.
- Carbon Monoxide poisoning caused by improper venting of fuel-burning equipment.
Users should adhere to the following suggestions for the safe use and maintenance of gas, wood, kerosene and electric space heaters:
- Select a space heater with a guard around the flame area or the heating element. This will help keep children, pets and clothing away from the heat source.
- When selecting a heater, look for one that has been tested and certified by a nationally recognized testing laboratory. These heaters have been determined to meet specific safety standards, and manufacturers are required to provide important use and care information to the consumer.
- Buy a heater that is the correct size for the area you want to heat. The wrong size heater could produce more pollutants and may not be an efficient use of energy.
- Read and follow the manufacturer’s operating instructions. A good practice is to read aloud the instructions and warning labels to all members of the household to be certain that everyone understands how to operate the heater safely. Keep the owner’s manual in a convenient place to refer to when needed.
- Keep children and pets away from space heaters. Some heaters have very hot surfaces. Children should not be permitted to either adjust the controls or move the heater.
- Keep doors open to the rest of the house if you are using an unvented fuel-burning space heater. This helps to prevent pollutant build-up and promotes proper combustion. Even vented heaters require ventilation for proper combustion.
- Never leave a space heater on when you go to sleep or leave the area. For fuel-fired heaters, dangerous levels of carbon monoxide could accumulate or uncontrolled burning could cause a fire.
- Never use or store flammable liquids (such as gasoline) around a space heater. The flammable vapors can flow from one part of the room to another and be ignited by the open flame or by an electrical spark.
- Be aware that mobile homes require specially designed heating equipment. Only electric or vented fuel-fired heaters should be used.
- Place heaters at least three feet away from objects such as bedding, furniture and drapes. Never use heaters to dry clothes or shoes. Do not place heaters where towels or other objects could fall on the heater and start a fire.
Different types of space heaters present some different safety problems. You should be aware of important information and advice about these specific types of heaters.
- Have gas and kerosene space heaters inspected annually by qualified persons to ensure that they are properly adjusted and clean. Keep the wick of the kerosene heater clean and properly adjusted. Appliances that are not working properly can release harmful and even fatal amounts of pollutants.
- Be certain that your heater is placed on a level, hard and nonflammable surface, not on rugs or carpets.
- Keep the heater in a safe working condition. Replace missing guards and controls at once. Never operate a defective heater. Have all necessary repairs done by qualified repair persons.
Kerosene Space Heaters
- Never use gasoline in a kerosene heater. Even very small quantities of gasoline in the heater tank can cause a fire. Kerosene should never be stored or carried in a container that has had gasoline because the residual gasoline is enough to increase the flammability of the kerosene.
- Only use 1-K kerosene in kerosene heaters. Kerosene should be purchased from a dealer who can certify that it is 1-K grade kerosene. The fact that kerosene is “water clear” does not ensure that it is 1-K, since both 1-K and 2-K can appear clear.
- Never fill the fuel tank of a kerosene heater beyond the full mark because as the fuel warms, it expands and could spill and cause a fire.
- Do not attempt to remove the fuel tank, or refuel the heater when it is operating or hot. The heater should not be moved while it is operating.
- Refuel heater out of doors.
- If flare-up or uncontrolled flaming occurs, do not attempt to move the heater. If your heater is equipped with a manual shut-off switch, activate the switch to turn off the heater. Do not attempt to extinguish a kerosene-heater fire with water or blankets. If activation of the shut-off switch does not extinguish the flame, leave the area and immediately call the fire department.
- Keep kerosene stored outside in a sealed blue container labeled “Kerosene.”
Portable Electric Space Heaters
Portable electric heaters manufactured after 1991 include many new performance requirements to enhance safety. For portable electric heaters that may present a fire hazard when tipped over, a tip-over switch will turn the heater off until it is turned upright again. New heaters also include indicator lights to let users know that the heater is plugged in or is turned on. Some manufacturers have included technically innovative safety controls such as infrared or proximity sensors, which can turn a heater off when objects come too close, or when children or pets are near. These kinds of controls may prevent burn injuries to children who might play too near a heater, or reduce the risk of ignition of combustible materials that could contact the heater.
- Use heaters on the floor. Never place heaters on furniture, since they may fall, dislodging or breaking parts in the heater, which could result in a fire or shock hazard.
- Unless certified for that purpose, do not use heaters in wet or moist places, such as bathrooms; corrosion or other damage to parts in the heater may lead to a fire or shock hazard.
- Do not hide cords under rugs or carpets. Placing anything on top of the cord could cause the cord to overheat, and can cause a fire.
- Do not use an extension cord unless absolutely necessary. Using a light-duty, household extension cord with high-wattage appliances can start a fire. If you must use an extension cord, it must be marked #14 or #12 AWG; this tells the thickness or gauge of the wire in the cord. (The smaller the number, the greater the thickness of the wire.) For example, a cord sold as an air conditioner extension cord will have these heavy wires. Do not use a cord marked #16 or #18 AWG. Only use extension cords bearing the label of an independent testing laboratory such a U.L. or E.T.L.
- Be sure the plug fits snugly in the outlet. Since a loose plug can overheat, have a qualified repairman replace the worn-out plug or outlet. Since heaters draw lots of power, the cord and plug may feel warm. If the plug feels hot, unplug the heater and have a qualified repairman check for problems. If the heater and its plug are found to be working properly, have the outlet replaced. Using a heater with a hot cord or plug could start a fire.
- If a heater is used on an outlet protected by a ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) and the GFCI trips, do not assume the GFCI is broken. Because GFCIs protect the location where leakage currents can cause a severe shock, stop using the heater and have it checked, even it if seems to be working properly.
- Broken heaters should be checked and repaired by a qualified appliance service center. Do not attempt to repair, adjust or replace parts in the heater yourself.
Wood Burning Heaters
- Existing building codes and manufacturer’s instructions must be followed during installation.
- Buy wood-burning stoves that are certified as meeting EPA emission standards.
- Check chimney and stove pipes frequently during the heating season for creosote build-up and have them cleaned annually.
- Stoves must be placed on an approved floor protector or fire resistant floor.
- Do not burn trash or anything other than the proper fuel.
- Use a metal container for ash removal.
Gas Space Heaters
- All unvented gas-fired space heaters (manufactured after 1983) should be equipped with an oxygen depletion sensor (ODS). An ODS detects a reduced level of oxygen in the area where the heater is operating and shuts off the heater before a hazardous level of carbon monoxide accumulates. These heaters also have labels that warn users about the hazards of carbon monoxide.
- Always have your gas heater and venting system professionally installed and inspected according to local codes.
- Vented gas-fired heaters can also cause carbon monoxide poisoning if they are not vented properly.
If your space heater is meant to be vented, be sure that the heater and flue are professionally installed according to local codes. Vent systems require regular maintenance and inspections. Many carbon monoxide poisoning deaths occur every year because this is not done. A voluntary standard requirement provides that a thermal shut-off device be installed on vented heaters manufactured after June 1, 1984. This device is designed to interrupt heater operation if the appliance is not venting properly.
Be aware that older gas-fired space heaters may not be equipped with the safety devices required by current voluntary standards, such as an ODS or a pilot safety valve that will turn off the gas to the heater if the pilot light should go out. If the pilot light on your heater should go out, use the following safety tips:
- Light the match before you turn on the gas to the pilot. This avoids the risk of a flashback, which could occur if you allow gas to accumulate before you are ready to light the pilot.
- IF YOU SMELL GAS, DO NOT ATTEMPT TO LIGHT THE APPLIANCE. Turn off all controls and open a window or door and leave the area. Then call a gas service person. Do not touch any electrical switches.
- Remember that LP-gas (propane), unlike natural gas supplied from the gas utility distribution pipes, is heavier than air. If you believe a leak has occurred, go to a neighbor’s phone to call your gas distributor or fire department. Do not operate any electrical switches or telephones in the building where the leak has occurred because a spark could cause an explosion.
Health Effects of Combustion Products
Carbon monoxide (CO) is a colorless, odorless gas that interferes with oxygen availability throughout the body. Exposed individuals and physicians may not recognize some symptoms as CO poisoning due to their similarity with viral illnesses such as influenza. Individuals with heart disease, chronic respiratory ailments, such as emphysema, and anemia, and also fetuses, infants, and young children have an increased susceptibility to CO poisoning. Low levels of CO can cause fatigue and chest pain in people with chronic heart disease. As CO exposures increase, symptoms progressively worsen through headaches, drowsiness, nausea, vomiting, confusion and disorientation. At very high CO exposures, loss of consciousness and death are possible.
Nitrogen dioxide can irritate the skin and the mucous membranes in the eyes, nose and throat. Depending upon the level and duration of exposure, respiratory effects range from slight irritation to burning and chest pain, coughing, and shortness of breath. In addition, repeated exposure to elevated levels of nitrogen dioxide may contribute to bronchitis. Children who are exposed to low levels of nitrogen dioxide, often show increased susceptibility to respiratory infections. Others who may be especially sensitive to nitrogen dioxide exposure include people with chronic respiratory disease including bronchitis, asthma and emphysema.
Reducing Exposure to Combustion Products in Homes
Take special precautions when operating unvented space heaters. Consider potential effects of indoor air pollution when deciding to use unvented kerosene or gas space heaters. Follow the manufacturer’s directions, especially about using the proper fuel and about providing fresh air while the heater is in use. This can be accomplished by keeping doors open to the rest of the house from the room where the heater is being used. In addition, keep the heater properly adjusted. Choose a space heater properly sized for the room you wish to heat and make sure that it is installed correctly. Keep flues and chimneys in good condition. Leaking chimneys and damaged flues can result in the release of harmful or even fatal concentrations of combustion gases, especially carbon monoxide. If operating any combustion type appliance, including space heaters, install a CO alarm. Use alarms that meet the current requirements of UL 2034 or IAS 6-96.
General Home-Safety Information
Regardless of the method you use to heat your home, you are encouraged to:
- Equip your home with a least one smoke alarm on each floor and outside sleeping areas. (This is a Borough Ordinance).
- Install a CO alarm that meets the requirements of the current UL standard 2034 or the IAS 6-96 standard in the hallway near every separate sleeping area of the home.
- Keep at least one dry-powder operative, ABC-type fire extinguisher in the home at all times.
- Keep areas around heat sources free of papers and trash.
- Store paints, solvents and flammable liquids away from all heat and ignition sources.
- Develop a fire-escape plan before a fire occurs. Be certain that all members of the household understand the plan and are able to carry out the plan in case of emergency.
- Be sure the plan includes a predetermined meeting place outside the house.
- If your clothing does catch fire, don’t run! Drop down immediately, cover face with hands, and roll to smother the flames. Teach your family how to do this.
- Have annual safety checks on all home heating equipment.
Coal Stokers, Oil Burners, Chimneys
With the cold weather approaching now is the time to get your stove cleaned and ready for the heating season. Contact your nearest stove dealer or service technician if you have questions on this procedure.
If you choose to do it yourself, the process is simple and can be done in less than 1-hour. With the fire out and the stove and stoker assembly cold, remove the grate by lifting it up. Vacuum the dust and ash from the fire box and motor assembly. Make sure the air holes on the grate are clean and free from ash.
It is also recommended to have your chimney and pipes inspected and cleaned yearly. This should be done by a service professional. When complete, they will make sure all connection and joints are replaced correctly. Once this is done your stove is ready for another year of warm, comfortable coal heat.
NEVER use an alternate heating fuel other than what is called for recommended by the manufacturer. Example: using gasoline in a kerosene heater or wood in a coal stove or stoker. Your heating unit is designed to use a specific type of fuel. The use of any other heating fuel can cause a fire.
NEVER use a heating unit with an unprotected or open flame inside a building such as a metal barrel to burn wood, paper, leaves or other items.
Make sure all family members know what to do in the event of a fire. Draw a floor plan with at least two ways of escaping every room. Make a drawing for each floor. Dimensions do not need to be correct. Make sure the plan shows important details: stairs, hallways and windows that can be used as fire escape routes.
Test windows and doors—do they open easy enough? Are they wide enough. Or tall enough?
Choose a safe meeting place outside the house.
Practice alerting other members. It is a good idea to keep a bell and flashlight in each bedroom.
Conduct a family meeting and discuss the following topics:
* Always sleep with the bedroom doors closed. This will keep deadly heat and smoke out of bedrooms, giving you additional time to escape.
* Find a way for everyone to sound a family alarm. Yelling, pounding on walls, whistles, etc. Practice yelling "FIRE!"
* In a fire, time is critical. Don't waste time getting dressed, don't search for pets or valuables. Just get out!
* Roll out of bed. Stay low. One breath of smoke or gases may be enough to kill.
Practice evacuating the building blindfolded. In a real fire situation, the amount of smoke generated by a fire most likely will make it difficult to see.
Practice staying low to the ground when escaping.
Feel all doors before opening them. If a door is hot, get out another way.
Learn to stop, drop to the ground, roll if clothes catch fire.
Install & maintain smoke detectors
Because fire can grow and spread so quickly, having working smoke alarms in your home can mean the difference between life and death. Once the alarm sounds, you may have as few as two minutes to escape. Smoke alarms are the most effective early warning devices available. Just having a smoke alarm in your home cuts your chance of dying in a fire nearly in half.
Install your smoke alarms correctly
- Install smoke alarms on every level of your home, including the basement. Make sure there is an alarm in or near every sleeping area.
- Mount the smoke alarms high on walls or ceilings—remember, smoke rises. Ceiling-mounted alarms should be installed at least four inches away from the nearest wall; wall-mounted alarms should be installed four to 12 inches away from the ceiling.
- If you have ceilings that are pitched, install the alarm near the ceiling's highest point.
- Don't install smoke alarms near windows, doors, or ducts where drafts might interfere with their operation.
- Hard-wired smoke alarms operate on your household electrical current. They can be interconnected so that every alarm sounds regardless of the fire's location. This is an advantage in early warning, because it gives occupants extra time to escape if they are in one part of the home and a fire breaks out in another part. Alarms that are hard-wired should have battery backups in case of a power outage, and should be installed by a qualified electrician.
- Don't paint your smoke alarms; paint, stickers or other decorations could keep them from working properly.
Keep your smoke alarms working properly
- Test your smoke alarms at least once a month, following the manufacturer's instructions.
- Replace the batteries in your smoke alarm once a year, or as soon as the alarm "chirps," warning that the battery is low. HINT: schedule battery replacements for the same day you change your clock from daylight to standard time in the fall.
- Never "borrow" a battery from a smoke alarm. Smoke alarms can't warn you of fire if their batteries are missing or have been disconnected.
- Don't disable smoke alarms even temporarily – you may forget to replace the battery. If your smoke alarm is sounding "nuisance alarms," it may need dusting or vacuuming. If that doesn't work, try relocating it further away from kitchens and bathrooms, where cooking fumes and steam can cause the alarm to sound.
- Regularly vacuuming or dusting your smoke alarms following manufacturer's instructions can help keep it working properly.
- Smoke alarms don't last forever. Replace your smoke alarms once every 10 years.
- Make sure that everyone in your home can identify and awaken to the sound of the alarm.
- Plan regular fire drills (twice a year is best) to ensure that everyone knows exactly what to do when the smoke alarm sounds. Hold a drill at night to make sure that sleeping family members awaken at the sound of the alarm.
Post emergency numbers near telephones
Be aware that if a fire threatens your home, you should not place the call to emergency services from inside the home. It is better to get out and place the call to fire authorities from a safe location outside the home.
After a fire emergency
Give first aid where appropriate. Seriously injured victims should be transported to professional medical help immediately. Stay out of the damaged building. Return only when fire authorities say it is safe.
Make sure you have a safe fire escape method for all situations
You may have installed a very expensive home security system. But if you cannot escape the burning structure you have a false level of confidence.
Space Heaters Need Space
Keep portable and space heaters at least 3 feet from anything that may burn. Never leave heaters on when you leave home or go to sleep. Children and pets should always be kept away from them.
Smokers Need To Be Extra Careful
Never smoke in bed or when you are sleepy. Carelessly discarded cigarettes are a leading cause of fire deaths in the United States.
Be Careful Cooking
Keep cooking areas clear of combustibles and wear short or tight-fitting sleeves when you cook. Keep the handles of your pots turned inward so they do not over-hang the stove. If grease catches fire, carefully slide a lid over the pan and smother the flames, then turn off the burner.
Matches and Lighters are Dangerous
In the hands of a child, matches and lighters can be deadly! Store them where kids can't reach them, preferably in a locked area. Teach children that matches and lighters are "tools" and should only be used by adults.
Use Electricity Safely
If an appliance smokes or has an unusual smell, unplug it immediately and have it repaired. Replace frayed or cracked electrical cords and don't overload extension cords. They should not be run under rugs. Never tamper with the fuse box or use the improper size fuse.
Cool a Burn
If someone gets burned, immediately place the wound under cool water for 10 to 15 minutes. If the burn blisters or chars, see a doctor immediately!
Be Careful of Halogen Lights
If you have halogen lights, make sure they are away from flammable drapes and low ceiling areas. Never leave them on when you leave your home or office.
Additional Articles & Information:
NFPA Fire Safety Tips
Children's Safety Zone
US Fire Administration