More than 4,000 Americans die each year in fires and approximately 25,000 are injured. An overwhelming number of fires occur in the home. There are time-tested ways to prevent and survive a fire. It’s not a question of luck. It’s a matter of planning ahead.
Every Home Should Have at Least One Working Smoke Alarm
Buy a smoke alarm at any hardware or discount store. It’s inexpensive protection for you and your family. Install a smoke alarm on every level of your home. A working smoke alarm can double your chances of survival. Test it monthly, keep it free of dust and replace the battery at least once a year. Smoke alarms themselves should be replaced after ten years of service, or as recommended by the manufacturer.
Prevent Electrical Fires
Never overload circuits or extension cords. Do not place cords and wires under rugs, over nails or in high traffic areas. Immediately shut off and unplug appliances that sputter, spark or emit an unusual smell. Have them professionally repaired or replaced.
Use Appliances Wisely
When using appliances follow the manufacturer’s safety precautions. Overheating, unusual smells, shorts and sparks are all warning signs that appliances need to be shut off, then replaced or repaired. Unplug appliances when not in use. Use safety caps to cover all unused outlets, especially if there are small children in the home.
- Portable heaters need their space. Keep anything combustible at least three feet away.
- Keep fire in the fireplace. Use fire screens and have your chimney cleaned annually. The creosote buildup can ignite a chimney fire that could easily spread.
- Kerosene heaters should be used only where approved by authorities. Never use gasoline or camp-stove fuel. Refuel outside and only after the heater has cooled.
Affordable Home Fire Safety Sprinklers
When home fire sprinklers are used with working smoke alarms, your chances of surviving a fire are greatly increased. Sprinklers are affordable – they can increase property value and lower insurance rates.
Plan Your Escape
Practice an escape plan from every room in the house. Caution everyone to stay low to the floor when escaping from fire and never to open doors that are hot. Select a location where everyone can meet after escaping the house. Get out then call for help.
Caring for Children
Children under five are naturally curious about fire. Many play with matches and lighters. Tragically, children set over 20,000 house fires every year. Take the mystery out of fire play by teaching your children that fire is a tool, not a toy.
Caring for Older People
Every year over 1,200 senior citizens die in fires. Many of these fire deaths could have been prevented. Seniors are especially vulnerable because many live alone and can’t respond quickly.
During a typical year, home electrical problems account for 67,800 fires, 485 deaths, and $868 million in property losses. Home electrical wiring causes twice as many fires as electrical appliances.
December is the most dangerous month for electrical fires. Fire deaths are highest in winter months which call for more indoor activities and increase in lighting, heating, and appliance use. Most electrical wiring fires start in the bedroom.
- Electrical Wiring
- Most electrical fires result from problems with “fixed wiring” such as faulty electrical outlets and old wiring. Problems with cords and plugs, such as extension and appliance cords, also cause many home electrical fires.
- In urban areas, faulty wiring accounts for 33% of residential electrical fires.
- Many avoidable electrical fires can be traced to misuse of electric cords, such as overloading circuits, poor maintenance and running the cords under rugs or in high traffic areas.
- Home Appliances
- The home appliances most often involved in electrical fires are electric stoves and ovens, dryers, central heating units, televisions, radios and record players.
Prevent Electrical Problems
Studies of electrical fires in homes show that many problems are associated with improper installation of electrical devices by do-it-yourselfers. Common errors that can lead to fires include the use of improperly rated devices such as switches or receptacles and loose connections at these devices. Both can lead to overheating and arcing that can start fires. Fires are still caused by people using the wrong size fuse or even putting a penny behind a fuse when they don’t have a spare. These practices are very dangerous. The fuse is a safety device designed to limit the electricity carried by the circuit to a safe level. Electricity and water are a bad combination. All electrical devices installed outdoors should be specially designed for outdoor use. Outdoor receptacles as well as those in kitchens, bathrooms, and anywhere else near water should be the ground fault circuit interrupting type (GFCI).
Use Electrical Devices Safely
Light bulbs, especially the newer halogen types, get very hot and can ignite combustible materials that get too close. Clothing or towels should never be placed atop a lampshade and table lamps should not be used without a shade where they might fall over onto a bed or sofa. Most light fixtures are labeled to show the brightest bulb that can be safely used in that fixture; too high a wattage bulb can cause the fixture to overheat and start a fire. Extension cords are a common cause of electrical fires. You must be careful to use only extension cords that are rated for the power used by the device they are powering. Extension cords should never be used as a long term solution to the need for another receptacle. Extension cords must never be run inside walls or under rugs or furniture. Extension cords can get warm in use and must be able to dissipate this heat or they can start a fire.
Maintain Electrical Safely
The insulation on electrical cords can become damaged by wear, flexing, or age. Do not use any cord that is stiff or cracked. Some clues that you may have an electrical problem are:
- Flickering lights. If the lights dim every time you turn on an appliance that circuit is overloaded or has a loose connection.
- Sparks. If sparks appear when you insert or remove a plug, they could be a sign of loose connections.
- Warm electrical cord. If an electrical cord is warm to the touch, the cord is underrated or defective.
- Frequent blown fuses or broken circuits. A fuse or circuit breaker that keeps tripping is an important warning sign of problems.
- Frequent bulb burnout. A light bulb that burns out frequently is a sign that the bulb is too high a wattage for the fixture.
- Routinely check your electrical appliances and wiring.
- Frayed wires can cause fires. Replace all worn, old or damaged appliance cords immediately.
- Use electrical extension cords wisely and don’t overload them.
- Keep electrical appliances away from wet floors and counters; pay special care to electrical appliances in the bathroom and kitchen.
- When buying electrical appliances look for products which meet the Underwriter’s Laboratory (UL) standard for safety.
- Don’t allow children to play with or around electrical appliances like space heaters, irons and hair dryers.
- Keep clothes, curtains and other potentially combustible items at least three feet from all heaters.
- If an appliance has a three-prong plug, use it only in a three-slot outlet. Never force it to fit into a two-slot outlet or extension cord.
- Never overload extension cords or wall sockets. Immediately shut off, then professionally replace, light switches that are hot to the touch and lights that flicker. Use safety closures to “child-proof” electrical outlets.
- Check your electrical tools regularly for signs of wear. If the cords are frayed or cracked, replace them. Replace any tool if it causes even small electrical shocks, overheats, shorts out or gives off smoke or sparks.
Where does it come from?
Carbon monoxide is produced whenever any fuel such as gas, oil, wood, or kerosene is burned. Carbon monoxide enters the home when any of these appliances are not working and/or venting correctly. For example; a chimney or vent may have become blocked, the heat exchanger in your furnace or boiler may have cracked.
What are the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning?
Carbon monoxide is an odorless, colorless gas that robs your body of oxygen. The symptoms can easily be confused with the flu. In fact, the highest incidence of carbon monoxide poisoning occurs during flu season. High concentrations of carbon monoxide can lead to unconsciousness, brain damage or death.
You may experience some or none of the symptoms listed below. You should suspect carbon monoxide poisoning if symptoms disapear when you leave your home.
- Headache, dizziness, nausea, confusion, shortness of breath, weakness, vision problems or loss of muscle control.
What should you do if you suspect carbon monoxide is in your home?
- Get fresh air and seek medical attention.
- Vent your home by opening the windows and doors.
- Call the Fire Department, we can check your home for carbon monoxide levels.
How can you protect yourself against carbon monoxide poisoning?
- Have your heating system and applicances inspected and serviced each year by a licensed professional.
- Have a qualified professional inspect your chimney and appliance vents for any blockage.
- Ensure your home is ventilated.
- Install carbon monoxide alarms in every level of your home
Winter Fire Safety
Fire Chief Keith Badler encourages all Marlboro Residents to take a moment to think about fire safety this winter. New Jersey experiences more fires during the winter months than any other time. Taking simple precautions can prevent most fires. Follow the safety tips below to help ensure your family’s safety. Remember; fire safety starts with you.
Woodstove and Fireplace Safety