Articles Tagged with “fire safety”

20141031_smokealarm_web.jpgMany of us are thinking about Halloween today. But Daylight Saving Time also ends this weekend. While setting your clocks back, remember to replace your smoke alarm batteries and test to make sure they work properly.

As we approach winter, we increase use of electrical appliances and the risk for home heating fires rise. In fact, half of all home heating fires happen in December, January and February. The death rate in homes with no working smoke alarms is twice as high as those with alarms, according to the National Fire Protection Association. Often, homes have smoke alarms but the batteries are missing disconnected or dead.

Make as many of these safety checks as you can this weekend:

Smoke alarms. Replace your smoke alarm batteries in every unit of your home and smoke alarms which are 10 years old. Also check if your smoke alarm model has been recalled. Kidde recalled 1.2 million smoke and carbon monoxide alarms in September. You can search for other recalls at www.cpsc.gov.

Carbon monoxide detectors. The state of Massachusetts began requiring carbon monoxide detectors in every residence in 2006 and many home owners have passed the 5-7 year lifespan of their models. Check if yours needs to be replaced. If you have a combination smoke alarm/carbon monoxide detector, check the unit’s specific instructions.

Washing machines and dryers. Clothes dryers are responsible for many home fires, but most can be prevented by regularly checking and cleaning the filters. Clean your models out now.

Cooking. Unattended cooking is the leading cause of cooking fires. Clear out any clutter in your kitchen now so you have plenty of room to set out your ingredients in advance. Find a cabinet or drawer to store anything you may need so you do not have to leave the room while cooking. Make sure you have a functioning fire extinguisher.

Home heating. Arrange for oil delivery or have your chimney or wood stove professionally cleaned. If you are using a space heater, take a few minutes to read our home heating safety tips. Each year, space heaters cause 80 percent of home heating fire deaths and one third of all home heating fires.

Get ready for the snow. Get your snow hat, gloves, shovel and road salt ready now and set them aside in the same place throughout the winter. When it snows, you want to be able to easily find them so you can clear your front steps and driveway so no one slips and falls in the snow and ice.

Cords. Walk through every room of your home and see what is plugged into the electrical outlets. Look under beds, behind computers, in power supplies and in your children’s rooms. Unplug cords you are not using and put them in a drawer until you need them. Pay extra attention to the USB cords for your tablets and cell phones and replace them if they look old or worn.

Get your car ready. Take a few precautions and reduce the stress of traveling in the snow. Collect and pack away ice scrapers and small shovels as well as an extra hat, pair of gloves and clothing in case you become stuck while traveling. Also pack a couple flashlights, a non-perishable snack, such as a granola bar, and make sure all your vehicle paperwork is easily accessible in the glove compartment.
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Home heating equipment is the second leading cause of home fires in Massachusetts. Because half of all home heating fires occur in December, January and February, now is the time to consider if you are heating your home safely.

The most important step is to make sure your smoke alarm has working batteries. Also, have your home heating equipment checked and serviced by a qualified professional each year. They can identify problems and clear any debris in your chimney or vents. Any obstruction increases the chance of fire and can lead to carbon monoxide poisoning, which can be fatal. Other ways to protect your family and home:

Space Heaters
Space heaters cause 33 percent of all home heating fires and 81 percent of home heating fire deaths, according to National Fire Protection Association (NFPA). If you have an older model, consider purchasing a new one with an automatic shut-off feature. Also, search for your model on the Internet to make sure it has not been recalled. The best resource is the Consumer Product Safety Commission website.

Use space heaters on even surfaces and always keep them three feet away from combustibles, such as bed spreads and clothing. Also keep children and pets at least this far away.

Do not use an extension cord and use space heaters on a flat surface where they will not tip over. Remember to turn it off before you go to sleep or if you leave the room.

No Overloaded Electrical Outlets
Be careful not to overload electrical outlets. Space heaters draw a large amount of electricity. Shift around appliances if you think you may be overloading an outlet.

Keep Vents Clear
Monitor your indoor and outdoor heating vents throughout the winter. When it snows, clear your outside heating vents even before you shovel your driveway.

Wood, Coal and Pellet Stoves
In Massachusetts, you need a building permit to install wood, pellet or coal burning stoves and fireplaces. They must be inspected by a local building inspector prior to use.
Last year, there were over 800 fire incidents in Massachusetts involving chimneys, fireplaces and woodstoves. Many result from a build-up of creosote, a by-product of burning wood.

Read the manufacturer’s instructions on how to use your heating equipment. Do not use flammable liquids to start a fire. For fireplaces, check that the damper is open before starting a fire so there is not a build-up of smoke and carbon monoxide.

Use the fireplace screen to prevent flames and sparks from moving outside the fireplace and causing burns and injuries. Do not close the damper until the fire is fully out.

When finished, dispose of ashes in a metal ash can and keep it outside your home and garage. Also keep it away from porches and decks.

Cooking
Make sure you have proper ventilation before you start cooking. Do not use grills inside your home.

Related:
Heating fire safety: Wood Stoves, Space Heaters and Fireplaces, U.S. Fire Administration.
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