The following winter fire safety tips will help you and your loved ones get through another cold season safely:
Fuel Burning Furnace -
Your furnace flue should be inspected regularly. Your furnace gives off heat and something else too - carbon monoxide. Carbon monoxide gas has often been described as the 'silent killer'. Clear, colorless and tasteless, it is difficult to detect.
If your furnace flue is clogged or loose, carbon monoxide could be going into your lungs instead of up the chimney. The Burlington County Fire Marshal's Association suggests that you to have your heater and flue inspected on a regular basis by a qualified workman before it's too late for an inspection to make a difference.
Space Heaters -
Two out of every three home fires associated with heating equipment involve devices other than central furnaces or water heaters, according to the latest statistics from the National Fire Protection Association. When used improperly, space heaters gas-fueled, kerosene fueled or electric, fixed or portable, wood stoves or fireplaces, all lead to fires.
Portable kerosene heaters, which are illegal in multiple family dwellings and commercial occupancies in New Jersey, have the highest rate of deaths per household. Room gas heaters pose a similar risk of death from un-vented carbon monoxide.
In 1998, heating related fires caused 49,200 reported fires, 388 deaths, 1,445 injuries, and $515 million in property damage. Typically these fires occurred because devices weren’t properly maintained, were placed or installed too close to combustible materials, had basic flaws in construction or design, and were improperly fueled.
The National Fire Protection Association recommends these safety measures:
· When buying a new unit, make sure it carries the mark of a nationally recognized testing laboratory, such as UL or FM. Be sure that a qualified technician installs the unit or check that the unit has been installed properly.
· If you use a wood or coal stove or a fireplace, have a professional inspect your chimney, chimney connector and other related equipment every year, and have it cleaned as often as the inspection indicates.
· Keep space heaters at least three feet from anything that can burn.
· Fuel portable kerosene heaters outdoors and away from flames or heat sources, and only when the device has cooled completely. Use only the kind of kerosene specified by the manufacturer, and never use gasoline.
· Always follow that manufacturer’s instructions.
· When buying heaters, choose devices with automatic shutoff features.
· Be sure any gas-fueled heating device is installed with proper attention to ventilation, and if un-vented gas space heaters are used in bedrooms or bathrooms, they must be small and wall mounted. Also, LP gas heaters with self-contained fuel supplies are prohibited for home use by codes.
Carbon Monoxide -
Carbon monoxide (CO) is a colorless, odorless and deadly gas. It is almost the same density of air, not heavier nor lighter, so it mixes freely with it. Because you can't see, taste or smell it, carbon monoxide can cause illness, or possibly death, before you know it's there. CO is inhaled and bonds with the hemoglobin in your blood, displacing the oxygen you need. It may eventually displace enough to suffocate you from the inside out, resulting in death or brain injury. Evesham Fire-Rescue suggests the installation of a minimum of one Carbon Monoxide Detector in the vicinity of the sleeping area of your residence.
It is a by-product of anything that burns. It comes
from gas or oil fired appliances such as furnaces, dryers, stoves, water
heaters, and barbecues. It can also come from wood burning stoves, fireplaces,
and automobile engines.
About 50% of all reported cases of carbon monoxide poisoning are caused by defective heating systems.
Symptoms can be mistaken for those accompanying the flu. They may include headache, fatigue, nausea, dizzy spells, and confusion. If you feel better after being away from the house for a period of time, you could be suffering from carbon monoxide poisoning. Medical studies have determined that a high percentage of the population is particularly vulnerable to CO, including low levels over longer periods of time. This high-risk group includes fetuses, children, the elderly, and those with heart and lung disorders. According to the Journal of the American Medical Association, carbon monoxide poisoning is the leading cause of accidental poisoning death in the U.S., responsible for 1,500 accidental deaths and 10,000 illnesses annually.
Wood Burning Appliances -
Wood burning appliances are a subject of expanding use and concern due to rising energy costs. Experts do not recommend the purchase or installation of any wood burning stove unless it is air-tight and has controlled airflow. Fireplace chimneys should be inspected and cleaned at least once a year, stovepipe chimneys once a month.
Smoke Detectors -
Approved-type properly installed and maintained smoke detectors are critical life saving devices. While a smoke detector won't prevent or extinguish a fire, it can save one’s life. Smoke detectors are designed to warn of fire danger in time to allow for escape or call for help. The ear-piercing alarm of the smoke detector may provide you and your family with the precious extra minutes that you need to escape, especially at night (when many fires occur).
When installing smoke detectors, the fire chief advises you to take the following steps:
Practice Child Safety -
Every year hundreds of people are killed or injured in fires where they live. The victims of fire are most often children, older people, or handicapped persons. Many of these fires are the result of accidents that could have been prevented. The elimination of all fire hazards is a key to any effective fire safety program. As many fires are the result of carelessness, the greatest element of safety comes from prevention.
A fire is no fun, but practicing fire safety can be. Here are some fire safety rules that the whole family can practice together:
Now, have someone call the fire department from the nearest available phone by dialing 9-1-1.
Sled Safety -