FIRE SAFETY & INJURY PREVENTION TIPS
BABIES & CARS
On a hot and humid day it can take as little as 15 minutes for a baby to become dehydrated while sitting in a parked car with no ventilation. Children less than a year old are especially at risk and can quickly suffer serious injuries such as seizures, permanent brain damage or death.
Always remember: Young children should NEVER be left alone in a vehicle - no matter what the weather!
Ten reasons to NEVER leave a child alone in a car!
- Temperatures inside your vehicle can rise by as much as 30'F in the first 10-15 minutes.
- Your baby could suffer heat stroke, exhaustion, rash, dehydration, even brain damage or death.
- A thief could steal your car, not realizing or not caring that your child is still in it. This could happen in less than 60 seconds.
- You are putting your child at risk of being kidnapped.
- Children are naturally curious and could climb into the driver's seat to "play."
- It is against the law. In the criminal code, "abandoning child" refers to children under the age of ten.
- Car accidents sometimes involve parked cars. In the event your unattended car is involved in an accident, common sense says baby is ALWAYS better off with you.
- Leaving windows down for baby does not help much to keep the car cool. It does expose your baby to small animals and insects, putting her/him at risk for bites and stings.
- If your baby is left unattended in a soiled diaper, a painful blistery diaper rash could result.
- Your baby would feel abandoned and frightened if he/she woke up alone. Why would any parent want to cause their child this emotional stress?
If you are driving a bus or van, don't forget to check all seats for sleeping children before you leave your vehicle.
BARBECUE AND FOOD SAFETY
It always pays for consumers to be aware that following a few simple safety precautions will help ensure that their outdoor cooking remains trouble-free and enjoyable.
- Before using your BBQ for the first time each season, check it thoroughly to ensure that all hoses are clear and firmly attached and that there are no leaks or blockages.
- Never use water to control grease flare-ups on gas barbecues.
- Before having a propane cylinder filled, check it for dents, gouges or other signs of disrepair.
- When having a cylinder filled, it is important to make sure that the cylinder is not overfilled.
- Check and make sure all connections are tight BEFORE turning on the gas. Leaks can be detected by dabbing the connections with a solution of soapy water and turning on the gas momentarily. If bubbles occur, there is a leak and it must be fixed before the grill is used.
- NEVER store spare propane cylinders indoors or near a barbecue, heat source or open flame.
- Always set up BBQ's in an open area at least 10 feet from any house, shed, fence, tree or any other combustible material, such as leaves or brush. Be aware of the wind blowing sparks.
- It's a good idea to keep a fire extinguisher within handy reach.
- To prevent burns use long handled barbecue tools and/or flame retardant mitts.
- Do not wear loose clothing and watch for dangling apron strings and shirt-tails.
- Food for the BBQ should not sit out, unrefrigerated. Keep food cold in the fridge or in a cooler until it is ready to go on the grill.
- Clean grills thoroughly EVERY time you barbecue. If food particles are left on the grill, bacteria can grow that will contaminate the next food cooked on the same grill. While the grill is still hot, use a heavy-duty brush to remove any food particles left on the grill.
- While different meats cook better at different temperatures, all meat should be cooked to an internal temperature of 74C (165F) or higher.
- Wash hands before and after handling food and utensils that will be touching food. Clean hands are often our best protection against food-borne illnesses.
- Never use the same dish for raw meat as for cooked. Make sure that the dish is thoroughly cleaned with soap and water before cooked meat is placed on it.
- REMEMBER: No matter what you are preparing, safe food handling practices will enhance the flavor, and the experience.
Carbon Monoxide Alarms
What is Carbon Monoxide?
Carbon Monoxide (CO) 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 are possible sources of CO. Vehicles or generators running in an attached garage also can produce dangerous levels of CO.
You can protect yourself again CO poisoning by properly installing, using, venting, and maintaining your heating and cooking equipment; by installing CO alarms inside your home; and by being cautious with vehicles or generators in attached garages.
How to protect yourself:
- Have at least one audible carbon monoxide alarm installed in your home to provide early warning of accumulating CO. However, a CO alarm is no substitute for safe practices.
- The best defenses against CO poisoning are safe use of vehicles (particularly in attached garages) and proper installation, use, venting and maintenance of household cooking and heating equipment.
- Choose an alarm that us Underwriters Laboratories, Inc. listed. Look for the UL logo on the package.
- Have a qualified appliance technician check all fuel-burning appliances, furnaces, venting and chimney system at least once a year or as recommended by the manufacturer.
How Carbon Monoxide alarms work:
Carbon Monoxide alarms activate based on the exposure to CO over time. They are designed to activate an alarm before the average, healthy adult would experience symptoms. Remember, it is the exposure to carbon monoxide over time that poses a threat.
Carbon monoxide alarms are NOT substitutes for smoke alarms. Smoke alarms give early warning of a fire, providing more time to escape. Know the difference between the sound of the smoke alarm and the sound of the CO alarm!
What to do if the Carbon Monoxide alarm activates:
- DO NOT panic!
- Have everyone move to an area with fresh (outside) air. Open windows to ventilate.
- Call 911.
- Do not re-enter your home until the emergency responder has arrived, your home is aired out, and your Carbon Monoxide alarm returns to normal operation.
- Call a qualified technician to inspect all equipment.
Cooking fires are the number one cause of home fires and home fire injuries. The majority of cooking equipment fires start with the ignition of common household items (i.e., wall coverings, paper or plastic bags, curtains, etc.).
- When cooking food on a stovetop, never leave it unattended. Also, keep a close eye on food cooking inside the oven.
- Keep cooking areas clean and clear of combustibles (i.e., potholders, towels, rags, drapes and food packaging).
- Keep children and pets away from cooking areas by creating a three-foot (one-meter) "kid–free zone" around the stove.
- Turn pot handles inward so they can't be bumped and children can't grab them.
- Wear short, close fitting or tightly rolled sleeves when cooking. Loose clothing can dangle onto stove burners and catch fire.
- Never use a wet oven mitt, as it presents a scald danger if the moisture in the mitt is heated.
- Always keep a potholder, oven mitt and lid handy. If a small grease fire starts in a pan, put on an oven mitt and smother the flames by carefully sliding the lid over the pan. Turn off the burner. Don't remove the lid until it is completely cool. Never pour water on a grease fire and never discharge a fire extinguisher onto a pan fire, as it can spray or shoot burning grease around the kitchen, actually spreading the fire.
- If there is an oven fire, turn off the heat and keep the door closed to prevent flames from burning you and your clothing.
- If there is a microwave fire, keep the door closed and unplug the microwave. Call the fire department and make sure to have the oven serviced before you use it again. Food cooked in a microwave can be dangerously hot. Remove the lids or other coverings from microwaved food carefully to prevent steam burns.
A portable fire extinguisher can save lives and property by putting out a small fire or containing it until the fire department arrives; but portable extinguishers have limitations. Because fire grows and spreads so rapidly, the number one priority for residents is to get out safely.
- Use a portable fire extinguisher when the fire is confined to a small area, such as a wastebasket, and is not growing. Make sure everyone has exited the building, 9-1-1 has been called or is being called, and the room is not filled with smoke.
- To operate a fire extinguisher, remember the word PASS.
- Pull the pin. Hold the extinguisher with the nozzle pointing away from you, and release the locking mechanism.
- Aim low. Point the extinguisher at the base of the fire.
- Squeeze the lever slowly and evenly.
- Sweep the nozzle from side-to-side.
- For your home, select a multi-purpose extinguisher (can be used on all types of home fires) that is large enough to put out a small fire, but not so heavy as to be difficult to handle.
- Choose a fire extinguisher that carries the label of an independent testing laboratory.
- Read the instructions that come with the fire extinguisher and become familiar with its parts and operation before a fire breaks out.
- Install fire extinguishers close to an exit and keep your back to a clear exit when you use the device so you can make an easy escape if the fire cannot be controlled. If the room fills with smoke, leave immediately.
- Know when to go. Fire extinguishers are one element of a fire response plan, but the primary element is safe escape. Every household should have a home fire escape plan and working smoke alarms.
Home Fire Escape Planning and Practice
Everyone can be taught the basics of home fire escape. Developing and practicing a home fire escape plan is the key to survival should a fire occur in the home. In the event of a fire, time is the biggest enemy and every second counts. In less than 30 seconds, a small flame can get completely out of control and turn into a major fire. Escape plans can help you get out of your home quickly. That is why every home needs to practice E.D.I.T.H. (Exit Drills in the Home).
- Plan and practice your plan.
- If your home catches on fire: STAY LOW, GET OUT and STAY OUT!
- If your clothes catch fire: STOP, DROP, and ROLL until the flames are put out.
Plan your escape and practice it AT LEAST twice a year:
- Draw a floor plan of your home.
- Show two ways out of every room -- if fire or smoke blocks the primary exit, you will need another way out (i.e., a window). You can also buy an Underwriter's Laboratory (UL) approved collapsible ladder for escape from upper story windows.
- Practice escaping from every room in the home.
- Agree on a meeting place where everyone will gather after you have escaped.
- Designate one person to go to a neighbor's house to call 911.
- Make sure that windows are not stuck and that screens can be taken out quickly.
- Provide alternatives for anyone with a disability.
- A proper escape plan includes: working smoke alarms on every level of the home and outside all sleeping areas; two ways out of each room; unobstructed and easy-to-use exits; a meeting place outside; a posted emergency phone number for the fire department; and practicing the plan at least twice a year with every member of the household.
- If there are infants or family members with mobility limitations, someone in the household should plan to assist them.
- Make sure that doors needed for escape can be opened easily and that windows are not nailed or painted shut.
- To make sure the fire is not on the other side of the door, use the back of your hand to feel a closed door, the doorknob and the crack between the door and door frame. If it feels hot, use your secondary escape route. Even if the door feels cool, open it carefully. If heat and smoke come in, slam the door and make sure that it is securely closed, then use your alternate escape route.
- React immediately to the sound of a smoke alarm and make getting out your top priority. Do not waste any time trying to save property. Take the safest exit route, but if you must escape through smoke, remember to crawl low under the smoke and keep your mouth covered. Close doors as you escape to slow the spread of the fire.
- Escape first, then call 911. NEVER go back inside the home for any reason!
- Teach children not to hide from firefighters. If someone is missing, tell a firefighter. They are equipped and trained to perform rescues safely.
SAFETY AROUND THE YARD
Many of us don't think about lawn mowers as occupational hazards. We start using them at a very young age, and we certainly don't need a license to mow the lawn. Here are a few simple precautions to ensure your safety - please read them carefully:
Inspect the lawn mower. - this should be done prior to starting!
- Make sure that the blade is sharp and secure. Thin or worn blades should be replaced
- Ensure that the shields and other guards, such as rear drag shields and discharge
deflectors, are in place and working properly.
- Wear protective equipment. Wear non-slip footwear and hearing protection.
Be prepared for obstacles.
- Keep people away from the work area - mowers can throw objects in any direction.
- Clear the work area of rocks, bottles and debris that might be thrown by the blades.
- Watch for hidden hazards, such as holes, roots, drain pipes and insect nests.
- Proceed slowly into tall, heavy grass to avoid choking the mower or stalling the motor.
- Use caution around low hanging branches and shrubs.
- Set mower at the highest cutting level when operating on rough ground.
- Do not leave blades rotating when crossing graveled areas.
- Keep hands away from the blades at all times.
- Expose the underside of a mower for maintenance - only after shutting off.
NEVER reach under the machine.
- Disconnect the spark plug or unplug an electric mower before sharpening,
replacing or cleaning.
- Mow away from the cord when using an electric lawn mower.
- Do not touch hot motor parts.
- Do not spray cold water on a hot engine.
- Do not make wheel height adjustments while the motor is running.
- Do not refuel the mower while the engine is running.
- Mow across slopes so that your feet are less likely to slide under the mower, and the mower cannot roll back - always mow standing up, not bent over.
- Do not mow surfaces that are slippery.
- Finally - know the controls and how to stop the mower quickly and NEVER leave a running mower unattended.
You should only store enough gasoline to power your gasoline-fueled equipment. This gasoline should be stored outdoors, in a shed for example - gasoline should never be stored in your home or attached garage. Gasoline should be stored in an approved and clearly labeled container and should be well away from any sources of heat or flame.
Gasoline should only be used as motor fuel and never as:
- A stain remover
- Grease cleaner
- Automotive parts cleaner, etc.
To transport gasoline in an automobile to and from a filling station, place the sealed, approved container in the trunk and leave the trunk lid open slightly. Never store gasoline in a car - drive directly to and from the filling station. Never smoke when using gasoline or refilling gas powered equipment - always turn equipment off before adding fuel!
Liquid and solid chlorine-based oxidizers are commonly sold for home pool care as hydrogen chloride products. These chemicals can spontaneously combust if contaminated by organic materials, such as body fluids, rain, and hydrocarbon liquids such as fuel oil or motor oil. This type of fire will result in toxic fumes that can be extremely dangerous, and require resident evacuation.
Store pool chemicals with care:
- Store and use pool chemicals according to manufacturer's recommendations.
- Containers should be kept in a dry place.
- Never store pool chemicals in the home, near sources of heat or flame, and never in direct sunlight.
How many smoke alarms do I need?
- Install at least one smoke alarm on every floor of your home (including the basement and attic) and outside each sleeping area. If you sleep with the door closed, install smoke alarms inside the room. In new homes, smoke alarms are required in all sleeping rooms, according to the National Fire Alarm Code.
- Ensure that all members of your family can hear the smoke alarm. If someone is hearing impaired, install alarms that flash a strobe light, as well as sound an alarm.
- While smoke alarms alert people to fires, families still need to develop and practice home fire escape plans so that they can get out quickly.
- Because smoke rises, alarms should be mounted high on walls or ceilings. Wall-mounted alarms should be positioned four to 12 inches from the ceiling; ceiling-mounted alarms should be positioned four inches away from the nearest wall. On vaulted ceilings, be sure to mount the alarm at the highest point of the ceiling.
- Smoke alarms should not be installed near a window, door or forced-air register where drafts could interfere with their operation.
- Be sure that the smoke alarm you buy carries the label of an independent testing lab.
- A qualified electrician should install alarms that are hard-wired to the home's electrical system.
Maintain your smoke alarm
- Test smoke alarms at least once a month, by using the alarm's "test button," and clean the units in accordance with the manufacturer's instructions.
- Clean smoke alarms using a vacuum cleaner without removing the alarm's cover.
- Install new batteries in all smoke alarms at least once a year, for example, on the day you change your clocks or when the alarm chirps (warning that the battery is dying).
- Replace all smoke alarm batteries immediately upon moving into a new home.
- Keep batteries in smoke alarms; do not borrow them for other purposes. Nuisance activations can be addressed by moving an alarm farther away from kitchen smoke or bathroom steam and by more frequent cleaning. If the problem persists, replace the alarm.
- Replace smoke alarms every 10 years.
Mobile Fire-Rescue encourages all Mobile residents to practice fire safety steps every day to keep those home fires safely burning. Remember, fire safety is your personal responsibility and fire prevention precautions DO make a difference! The Mobile Fire-Rescue Department offers home fire safety inspections at no cost. Citizens can call (251) 208-7351 to set up an appointment.
Common Sun Myths
- A tan is healthy. Not true. A suntan is not a sign of health - it shows that your skin has been damaged. Sun damage is not reversible and usually happens before you can see or feel it.
- A tan protects you from sun damage. Not true. Overexposure to the sun increases your risk of skin cancer and causes premature wrinkling.
- People with dark skin are already protected. Not true. Everyone, regardless of skin type, needs protection from the sun.
- Staying in the shade prevents burning. Not true. Even if it's cloudy, surfaces such as water, sand, concrete, and snow reflect the sun's rays on to your skin. Clouds filter about 80 percent of the ultraviolet rays, but UV can penetrate thin clouds, fog and haze.
- You will not sunburn while swimming. Not true. The sun's rays penetrate under water. Radiation penetrates deeper into the skin when it is wet. Wear a T-shirt and hat while in the water. Use a water-resistant sunscreen and re-apply it frequently and liberally.
- Glass protects you from ultraviolet rays. Not true. UVA rays can penetrate glass and produce some tanning, both immediate and delayed. This can cause premature aging and skin cancer.
Ultraviolet radiation (UV) is a natural part of the sun's energy that reaches the earth's surface. The sun's ultraviolet rays have three different wavelengths. UVC contains the shortest wavelengths and do no reach the earth's surface. UVB rays are medium wavelengths that cause your skin to burn and may cause cancer. UVA rays are the largest wavelengths and cause your skin to age and wrinkle, and damages your skin's support structure.
Ultraviolet radiation can damage your eyes, leading to cataracts, your skin, in the form of sunburn and skin cancer, and your immune system, decreasing your body's ability to fight disease. Because the ozone layer is thinning, when you spend time outdoors, you are exposed to increased daily dosages of UV radiation.
- Limit sun exposure, especially when the sun's rays are the most intense between 11:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. Plan outdoor activities for early morning or late afternoon.
- Wear a wide brimmed hat, made of closely woven material, which covers your ears and neck. Also wear sunglasses and a loose fitting long sleeved shirt and pants.
- Sit under trees, awnings and umbrellas for shade.
- If you must be in direct sunlight, use a sunscreen to prevent burns. Sunscreen should be SPF (skin protection factor) 15 or higher, PABA free, fragrance free, and water-resistant. Apply sunscreen 30-60 minutes before going out in the sun, and before you apply any other creams, such as moisturizer.
- If you have an allergic reaction to sunscreen, such as redness, itching, blotchiness or a rash, stop using the product and call you doctor.
- Avoid tanning parlors, home tanning lamps and beds. These machines produce the same wavelengths of light as the sun and cause the same damage.
Sunscreens should not be used to increase the time you are out in the sun. Sunscreens provide protection from sunburn when you can not avoid being in the sun. Sunscreens generally protect against UVB rays, which cause sunburn. Some products claim to be broad-spectrum sunscreens to protect against the burning rays of UVB and UVA. There is no standard measurement of protection against the aging effects of UVA.
- Babies burn more easily. Children with deeply pigmented (dark) skin require just as much protection as children with fair skin.
- Babies have more sensitive skin because the outermost layer of skin is thinner. One blistering sunburn doubles a child's lifetime risk of skin cancer.
- A baby can't tell you he's too hot or the sun is too bright. Your baby may be crying and you won't know whether he's tired, hungry or hot. 'Babies can't physically move themselves out of the sunlight - they need your attention and help!
- Keep babies less than one year old out of direct sunlight. Keep babies in the shade in a covered stroller or playpen. Dress them in long pants, long sleeved shirts and wide brimmed hats. Closely woven materials are best. If a fabric is sheer enough that you can see through it then the sun's rays will get through.
- Do not use sunscreen on a baby under one year old!
- Book your child's outdoor sports lessons or practices early in the morning or late afternoon.
- Ensure that shade from trees, awnings or umbrellas is provided outside your home for your children to play in, including sand boxes, swimming and wadding pools.
- Check that your local playground has a shaded area or provides overhead shade structures.
- Follow rules for sunscreen application (see above).
- Young children should never be left alone in a hot car!
Eyes do not get as much direct UV exposure as the skin because the eye sockets shade them. Reflected sunlight, from water, sand, concrete and snow, increases the UV exposure for the eyes. When outdoors, sunglasses are a must and wearing a hat is recommended.
Protecting Your Pets
Don't forget your pets! Excessive panting and salivation, vomiting, an anxious or staring expression, a fast pulse rate and high body temperature shows heat stroke. If your pet has any of these symptoms, act quickly! Immerse the animal in cool water or pour cool water over it and as soon as the pet cools off, take it to the veterinarian for treatment. Never leave your pet in a hot car - it's much kinder to leave your pet at home with plenty of fresh
cool water and shade.
It's getting warmer, the trees and flowers are budding...Spring is finally here! Spring-cleaning is an annual event for many people. Our spring-cleaning habits signify a fresh start for us after the long winter months. Spring is the ideal time to check our homes and yards for dangerous materials and unsafe conditions and to spend the time to protect our families and our properties. Please read the following safety tips to make this Spring a safe one! Start by taking a few minutes to plan your spring-cleaning. You will want to check each room in your house, including the attic and basement. Also, don't forget the garage, yard and storage shed. Plan to do several different things:
Remove All Hazards
- Frayed or damaged appliance cords, wiring, fuses or breakers
- Piles of rubbish, trash and yard debris
- Remove stacks of paper and magazines; take them to recycling centers
- Check for water leaks, especially near electrical appliances
- Check for good clearance between heating appliances and combustibles
Properly Store Flammable Liquids and Home Chemicals.
- Make sure that gasoline and cleaning fluids are well marked and are out of the reach of children and pets. Store in a cool, dry place outside the house.
- Clean up work areas. Put dangerous tools, adhesives, matches or other work items away and out of any child's reach.
- Inventory all home and yard chemicals, paints and poisons. Store them according to their label. Properly dispose of any that are expired or leaking or that look bad but don't throw them in the trash or down the drain
- Make sure that all chemicals are kept under lock and key and out of reach of children and pets.
Check Fire Protection and Safety Equipment
- Check your smoke detector. Make sure your smoke detector works. Replace batteries yearly.
- Check fire extinguishers for proper type and placement.
- Make sure all doors and windows open easily for fast escapes.
- Make sure your street numbers are posted properly and are visible.
- Check and make sure you have a working flashlight and battery-powered radio for the approaching storm season.
Plan Your Escape
- Sit down with your family and make sure that everyone knows what to do in the event of a fire.
- Make sure you have two ways out of every room and that you have a meeting place outside the house for the whole family.
- Practice the plan. Even the best plan is no good if you don't practice it!
You can do a lot to protect yourself, your family and your property. A little time spent on simple prevention will do a lot to make your house a safer place. By following these quick and simple steps, we can all keep spring activities fun and fire-safe.
Summertime Guide to Staying Safe from Fire
It's possible to enjoy a sizzling-hot summer without getting burned! By following these quick and simple steps, we can all keep summer activities fun and fire-safe.
Keep barbecue grills far away from anything that can burn -- your home, cars, dry vegetation, etc. Stay with the grill when lit, and keep children and pets well away from the area. When barbecuing, protect yourself by wearing a heavy apron and an oven mitt that fits over your forearm. If you get burned, run cool water over the burn for 10 to 15 minutes. If you receive a serious burn, seek medical attention promptly.
Barbecue grills must never be used inside the home because, in addition to the fire hazard of indoor grilling, the grill can easily cause carbon monoxide poisoning. If lightning appears while you're grilling, seek shelter and wait for the storm to pass.
Use only a limited amount of starter fluid (never gasoline) before lighting a charcoal grill. If the fire is too slow, rekindle with dry kindling and add more charcoal if necessary. After use, soak the coals with water before you discard them and leave the grill away from the house until completely cool.
For gas grills, always store the gas cylinder outside -- away from structures -- and turn off the valves when not in use.
Fire works are illegal in the City of Mobile and its jurisdiction. The safest way to enjoy fireworks is at an outdoors public display put on by professionals. Fireworks are designed to burn and explode, and are a leading cause of injuries in the U.S. every year, fireworks used by amateurs cause thousands of injuries serious enough to require emergency room treatment. Children between the ages of 10 and 14 are at greatest risk of injury from fireworks. Stay safe by always leaving fireworks to professionals!
- Pitch your flame-retardant tent well away from your campfire.
- Only use flashlights or battery-powered lanterns inside the tent or other close space.
- Build your campfire away from your tent, clearing away all vegetation and digging a pit surrounded by rocks.
- Look for signs of potential fire hazards in national forests and campgrounds, and always obey park service regulations.
- Pour water over or cover the fire with dirt before going to sleep or leaving the campsite.
- Only swim in approved areas.
- Supervise children near water at all times and make sure that children learn to swim.
- Ask a lifeguard about the depth of the water before jumping in.
- Always wear an U.S. Coast Guard-approved PFD (personal floatation device) when boating, jet skiing, tubing or water-skiing. Air-filled swimming aids like water wings or inner tubes are not substitutes for approved PFDs. An adult should always supervise children using these devices.
- Be sure to extinguish all smoking materials and shut down motors, fans and heating devices before fueling a boat. In case of a spill, wipe up fuel immediately and check the bilge for fuel leakage and odors. After fueling and before starting the boat's motor, ventilate with the blower for at least four minutes.
Halloween Safety Tips
Planning ahead can help make Halloween a fire-safe one. Taking simple fire safety precautions, like making sure fabrics for costumes and decorative materials are flame resistant, can prevent fires.
- Purchase only costumes, wigs and props labeled flame-resistant or flame-retardant. When creating a costume, choose material that won't easily ignite if it comes in contact with heat or flame. Avoid billowing or long trailing features.
- Dried flowers, cornstalks and crepe paper are highly flammable. Keep these and other decorations well away from all open flames and heat sources, including light bulbs, heaters, etc.
- Use extreme caution when decorating with candles, and supervise children at all times when candles are lit. When lighting candles inside Jack-O-Lanterns, use long, fireplace-style matches and be sure to place lit pumpkins well away from all combustible items. Pumpkins can also be illuminated with small, inexpensive flashlights.
- Remember to keep exits clear of decorations, ensuring nothing blocks escape routes.
- Use flashlights as alternatives to candles or torch lights when decorating walkways and yards. Flashlights are much safer for trick-or-treaters, whose costumes may brush against the lighting.
- Instruct children to stay away from open flames or other heat sources. Be sure children know how to stop, drop and roll in the event their clothing catches fire. (Stop immediately, drop to the ground, covering your face with your hands, and roll over and over to extinguish flames.)
- Instruct children who are attending parties at others' homes to locate the exits and plan how they would get out in an emergency.
- Provide children with lightweight flashlights to carry for lighting or as part of their costume.
- Extinguish all candles when leaving the room or going to sleep.
- Keep candles away from items that can catch fire (e.g., clothing, books, paper, curtains, Christmas trees, and flammable decorations
- Use candleholders that are sturdy, won't tip over easily, are made from a material that can't burn and are large enough to collect dripping wax.
- Don't place lit candles in windows, where blinds and curtains can close over them.
- Place candleholders on a sturdy, uncluttered surface and do not use candles in places where they could be knocked over by children or pets.
- Keep candles and all open flames away from flammable liquids.
- Keep candle wicks trimmed to one-quarter inch and extinguish candles when they get to within two inches of the holder or decorative material.
- Avoid candles with combustible items embedded in them.
Candles & Children
- Keep candles up high, out of reach of children.
- Never leave a child unattended in a room with a candle. A child should not sleep in a room with a lit candle.
- Don't allow children or teens to have candles in their bedrooms.
- Store candles, matches and lighters up high and out of children's sight and reach, preferably in a locked cabinet.
During Power Outages
- Try to avoid carrying a lit candle. Don't use a lit candle when searching for items in a confined space.
- Never use a candle for a light when checking pilot lights or fueling equipment such as a kerosene heater or lantern. The flame may ignite the fumes.
Holiday Safety Tips
The winter holidays are a time for celebration, and that means more cooking, home decorating, entertaining, and an increased risk of fire due to heating equipment.
Holiday Decorating and Lighting
- Use caution with holiday decorations and whenever possible, choose those made with flame-resistant, flame-retardant or non-combustible materials.
- Keep candles away from decorations and other combustible materials, and do not use candles to decorate Christmas trees.
- Purchase only lights and electrical decorations bearing the name of an independent testing lab, and follow the manufacturer's instructions for installation and maintenance.
- Carefully inspect new and previously used light strings and replace damaged items before plugging lights in. Do not overload extension cords.
- Always unplug lights before replacing light bulbs or fuses.
- Don't mount lights in any way that can damage the cord's wire insulation (i.e., using clips, and not nails).
- Keep children and pets away from light strings and electrical decorations.
- Turn off all light strings and decorations before leaving the house or going to bed.
- Unattended cooking is the leading cause of home fires in the U.S. When cooking for holiday visitors, remember to keep an eye on the range.
- Provide plenty of large, deep ashtrays and check them frequently. Cigarette butts can smolder in the trash and cause a fire, so completely douse cigarette butts with water before discarding, or flush them down the toilet.
- After a party, always check on, between and under upholstery and cushions and inside
trashcans for cigarette butts that may be smoldering.
- Keep matches and lighters up high, out of sight and reach of children (preferably in a locked cabinet). When smokers visit your home, ask them to keep their smoking materials away from young children.
Christmas Tree Safety Tips
- When decorating Christmas trees, make sure you use safe tree lights. (Some lights are designed only for indoor or outdoor use, but not both.) Larger tree lights should also have some type of reflector rather than a bare bulb. All lights should bear an approval tag from a testing laboratory.
- Never use electric lights on a metal tree.
- Follow the manufacturer's instructions on how to use tree lights. Any string of lights with worn, frayed or broken cords or loose bulb connections should not be used.
- Always unplug Christmas tree lights before leaving home or going to sleep.
- No more than three light sets should be connected together.
- Never use lit candles to decorate a tree, and place them well away from tree branches.
- Try to keep live trees as moist as possible by giving them plenty of water daily. Do not purchase a tree that is dry or dropping needles.
- Choose a sturdy tree stand designed not to tip over.
- When purchasing an artificial tree, be sure it is labeled as fire-retardant.
- Children are fascinated with Christmas trees. Keep a watchful eye on them when around the tree and do not let them play with the wiring or lights.
- Store matches and lighters up high, out of the reach of children, preferably in a locked cabinet.
- Make sure the tree is at least three feet away from any heat source and try to position it near an outlet so that cords are not running long distances. Do not place the tree where it may block exits.
- Safely dispose of the tree when it begins dropping needles. Dried-out trees are highly
flammable and should not be left in a house or garage, or placed against the house.
Winter Safety Tips for the Home
The high cost of home heating fuels and utilities have caused many people to search for alternate sources of home heating. The use of wood burning stoves is growing and space heaters are selling rapidly, or coming out of storage. Fireplaces are burning wood and man-made logs.
All these methods of heating may be acceptable. They are, however, a major contributing factor in residential fires. Many of these fires can be prevented. The following fire safety tips can help you maintain a fire safe home this winter.
- Be sure your heater is in good working condition. Inspect exhaust parts for carbon buildup. Be sure the heater has an emergency shut off in case it is tipped over.
- Never use fuel-burning appliances without proper room venting. Burning fuel (coal or kerosene or propane, for example) can produce deadly fumes.
- Use ONLY the fuel recommended by the heater manufacturer. NEVER introduce a fuel into a unit not designed for that type fuel.
- Keep kerosene or other flammable liquids stored in approved metal containers, in well-ventilated storage areas, outside of the house.
- NEVER fill the heater while it is operating or hot. When refueling an oil or kerosene unit, avoid overfilling. DO NOT use cold fuel for it may expand in the tank as it warms up.
- Refueling should be done outside of the home (outdoors).
- Keep young children away from space heaters -- especially when they are wearing nightgowns or other loose clothing that can be easily ignited.
- When using a fuel-burning appliance in the bedroom, be sure there is proper ventilation to prevent a buildup of carbon monoxide.
WOOD STOVES AND FIREPLACES
- Be sure the fireplace or stove is installed properly. Woodstoves should have adequate clearance (36 inches) from combustible surfaces, and proper floor support and protection.
- Woodstoves should be of good quality, solid construction and design, and should be UL listed.
- Have the chimney inspected annually and cleaned if necessary, especially if it has not been used for some time.
- Do not use flammable liquids to start or accelerate any fire.
- Keep a glass or metal screen in front of the fireplace opening, to prevent embers or sparks from jumping our, unwanted material from going in, and help prevent the possibility of burns.
- The stove should be burned hot twice a day for 15 to 30 minutes to reduce the amount of creosote buildup.
- Don't use excessive amounts of paper to build roaring fires in fireplaces. It is possible to ignite creosote in the chimney by overbuilding the fire.
- Never burn charcoal indoors. Burning charcoal can give off lethal amounts of carbon monoxide.
- Keep flammable materials away from your fireplace mantel. A spark from the fireplace could easily ignite these materials.
- Before you go to sleep, be sure your fireplace fire is out. NEVER close your damper with hot ashes in the fireplace. A closed damper will help the fire to heat up again and will force toxic carbon monoxide into the house.
- If synthetic logs are used, follow the directions on the package. NEVER break a synthetic log apart to quicken the fire or use more than one log at a time. They often burn unevenly, releasing higher levels of carbon monoxide.
- Be sure all furnace controls and emergency shutoffs are in proper working condition.
- Leave furnace repairs to qualified specialists. Do not attempt repairs yourself unless you are qualified.
- Inspect the walls and ceiling near the furnace and along the chimney line. If the wall is hot or discolored, additional pipe insulation or clearance may be needed.
- Check the flue pipe and pipe seams. Are they well supported, free of holes, and cracks? Soot along or around seams may be an indicator of a leak.
- Is the chimney solid, with cracks or loose bricks? All unused flue openings should be sealed with solid masonry.
- Keep trash and other combustibles away from the heating system.
OTHER FIRE SAFETY TIPS
- Never discard hot ashes inside or near the home. Place them in a metal container outside and well away from the house.
- Never use a range or an oven as a supplemental heating device. Not only is it a safety hazard, it can be a source of potential toxic fumes.
- If you use an electric heater, be sure not to overload the circuit. Only use extension cords, which have the necessary rating to carry the amp load. Choose an extension cord the same size or larger than the appliance electrical cord.
- Avoid using electrical space heaters in bathrooms, or other areas where they may come in contact with water.
- Frozen water pipes? Never try to thaw them with a blowtorch or other open flame, (otherwise the pipe could conduct the heat and ignite the wall structure inside the wall space). Use hot water or a UL labeled device such as a hand-held dryer for thawing.
- If windows are used as emergency exists in your home, practice using them in the event fire should strike. Be sure that all the windows open easily. Home escape ladders are recommended.
- If there is a fire hydrant near your home you can assist Mobile Fire-Rescue by keeping the hydrant clear of debris, bushes, etc so in the event it is needed, it can be located.
- Be sure every level of your home has a working smoke alarm, and be sure to check and clean them on a monthly basis.
- Plan and practice a home escape plan with your family.
- Contact Mobile Fire-Rescue Public Education Office if you have a question on Home Fire Safety at (251) 208-7378 or 208-7899.
- Mobile Fire-Rescue encourages all Mobile residents to practice fire safety steps every day to keep those home fires safely burning. Remember, fire safety is your personal responsibility and fire prevention precautions DO make a difference! The Mobile Fire- Rescue Department offers home fire safety inspections at no cost. Citizens can call (251) 208-7351 to set up an appointment.