emergency

November 2013 Monthly Memo: Winter/Home Heating Safety

winterFire2013

Is the chill of winter creeping in and around your house? The best defense is making sure your home’s heating system is maintained properly

Follow these tips for extra efficiency and warmth

  • Have a professional inspect your heating system once per year, before winter hits.
  • Replace air filters often, per the manufacturer’s recommendation (the professional who inspects your heating system can tell you what’s best).
  • Seal up air leaks and add insulation around the house.
  • Clean registers and make sure they’re not blocked by furniture, carpets or drapes.
  • Bleed trapped air from hot water radiators.

Other safety suggestions

  • Never use a kerosene heater indoors.
  • Never use electric or gas stoves to heat the home. They are not intended for that purpose and can cause fires and carbon monoxide poisoning.
  • If using a wood fireplace, have it inspected annually by a professional chimney sweep.
  • When using a gas fireplace, keep the glowing embers and logs clean; inspect and clean the air circulation passages and fan; and avoid obstructing the vents.

Furnace Maintenance Checklist

  1. Turn off the electricity or gas to the furnace and replace the filter. If you haven’t regularly cleaned or replaced the filter, do it now and check it throughout the heating season. A clean filter will operate more efficiently. If you have a central air conditioning system that operates with the furnace blower, count on replacing the filter more often. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
  2. Remove dust from the furnace. Get all the crevices cleaned of dust. Vacuum the base and grills. And be sure to clear obstacles to the vents so air can freely flow.
  3. Install a programmable thermostat. A programmable thermostat is ideal for people who are away from home at set times throughout the week. A properly programmed thermostat can save you about $180 every year in energy costs, according to ENERGY STAR.
  4. Check for carbon monoxide leaks. Carbon monoxide can be detected with an inexpensive test badge or battery operated alarm.
  5. Call the pros. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission recommends scheduling a professional inspection each year for your furnace and all fuel-burning home heating systems, including boilers, fireplaces, wood stoves, water heaters, chimneys, flues and vents.

US Fire Administration- Safety Tips for The Home Avoiding a Furnace Fiasco

Let’s Have Fun with Fire Safety- kids booklet

Winter Storm Fire Safety A wide range of natural disasters occurs within the United States every year. Natural disasters can have a devastating effect on you and your home. The U.S. Fire Administration encourages you to use the following safety tips to help protect yourself, your family and your home from the potential threat of fire during or after a winter storm. You can greatly reduce your chances of becoming a fire casualty by being able to identify potential hazards and following the outlined safety tips.Alternative heatBeyond that, some homeowners opt for alternative heating devices, such as space heaters. While these can be comforting and warming, they can also become a fire-hazard. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission estimates that space heaters are associated with about 33,300 residential fires every year. If you decide to add alternative heating to your regime, make safety a top priority. The Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety (IBHS) suggests:

  • Look for products tested by Underwriters Laboratory (UL). Properly tested and rated stoves will have an attached safety label and an installation.
  • Buy models with automatic shut-off features and heat element guards.
  • Maintain a 36-inch clearance between the heater and combustible materials, such as bedding, furniture, wall coverings or other flammable items.
  • Do not leave a heater unattended.
  • Check every electrical cord for fraying and cracking. If one looks worn, replace it before using.
  • Install carbon monoxide detectors in several parts of the house.
  • Never run the heater’s cord (or any cord) under rugs or carpeting.

 

didu-know

  • Winter residential building fires result in an estimated average of 945 deaths, 3,825 injuries, and $1,708,000,000 in property loss each year.
  • Fires in one- and two-family dwellings account for 67 percent of all winter residential building fires.
  • Cooking is the leading cause of all winter residential building fires.
  • Winter residential building fires occur mainly in the early evening hours, peaking from 5 to 8 p.m.
  • Although at its highest in December, residential building fire incidence is collectively highest in the 3 winter months of January, February, and March.

Source: Winter Residential Building Fires (PDF, 1.0 Mb)

 

In the event of an emergency….

In the event of a sudden emergency such as a hurricane, you may have just minutes to gather your family and important papers, and get out of your house, possibly for good. Are you prepared? Where would you go? What would you take with you?

If you only had 10 minutes to evacuate your home, would you be ready? What would you take with you? See how two families deal with an evacuation order, and what a difference having a plan can make.

Ready your Family Emergency Plan

Prepare an effective evacuation plan

Fire Safety- don’t let your holiday go up in flames, literally!

Decorating homes and businesses is a long-standing tradition around the holiday season. Unfortunately, these same decorations may increase your chances of fire. Based on data from the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) and the U.S. Fire Administration (USFA), an estimated 240 home fires involving Christmas trees and another 150 home fires involving holiday lights and other decorative lighting occur each year. Together, these fires result in 21 deaths and $25.2 million in direct property damage. http://ow.ly/oUwsq

 

This video done by the NIST shows a VERY DRY Christmas tree on fire in a room. It takes a little over 30 seconds for the room to flashover. Keep your tree watered. Once it ignites (short circuit of a strand of lights, direct flame, etc) it will become a fully developed fire very fast and extend to the rest of the structure very quickly.

Set aside some time and effort to protect your home from a devastating blaze with some safety tips

Fires cause an estimated 3,500 deaths and nearly $4 billion in property damage in the United States annually — much more than hurricanes, tornadoes or floods. Yet many people ignore common fire hazards in the home and don’t prepare themselves or family members for this more common catastrophe.

Buffer Home Heaters

  • Most home fires are started by home heating equipment. Use caution and common sense when using propane, electric or other home heating equipment.
  • Keep flammables, such as drapes and furniture, away from space and portable heaters.
  • Hire a certified chimney sweep to regularly clean and inspect the chimney.
  • Inspect heating equipment regularly for proper design, installation and operation.
  • Follow manufacturer instructions when installing and filling liquid- and gas-fueled heaters.
  • Never leave auxiliary heating equipment unattended.

 

Household Appliances- Household appliances are another common cause of fires. Many people feel invulnerable from electrical fire hazards, thinking the rules don’t apply to them. Don’t make the same mistake and instead connect with these warnings:

  • Don’t overload wall outlets.
  • Don’t use fuses rated too high for your home’s circuits.
  • Don’t use frayed electrical cords.
  • Don’t run extension cords under rugs or furniture.

 

Cook Up a Safe Place-  Most home fires start in the kitchen. To protect your home and family:

  • Keep the stove clean and free of grease.
  • Keep the handles of pots and pans turned inward.
  • Keep all flammable material (including shirt sleeves) away from burners. 
  • Keep a fire extinguisher rated for grease fires nearby. • Never store flammable liquids in the kitchen.
  • Never leave cooking unattended.

 

Protecting Possessions

  • While prevention is the best protection against fires, precautions can be taken to protect possessions. A fire resistant safe or filing cabinet can help protect important documents like deeds, mortgages, titles for cars and birth certificates. Computer disks, home videos and family photographs can also be kept safe this way — if you’re using a safe specifically designed for such heat-sensitive items.
  • For added protection, make duplicates and store the copies away from home in a secure location.
  • And be sure to have Identity Theft protection to provide protection after a disaster when looting is a frequent problem.

A house fire is traumatic enough.  Not having a good record of your belongings can only add to the misery.  Keeping a home inventory of the items you have and their values will help you when the rebuilding starts.  There are free downloads available from the Insurance Information Institute to serve as a guide to homeowners in order to have record after a loss.

A few simple steps can help when taking inventory: Don’t put it off.  Start with new items and their value, and then try to remember older items.  An incomplete inventory is better than nothing at all. Use your camera.  Take pictures or video of your home and write down descriptions to go with it. Keep it safe.  Be sure to keep the inventory in a secure place, such as a fire box or safe deposit box.

Free inventory software

October is Fire Safety Month- Smoke Alarms and Fire Escape Plans SAVE LIVES

 In the event of a fire, remember that every second counts, so you and your family must always be prepared.

 

Smoke alarms are required by your insurance. Since most fires start between midnight and 4 a.m., the key to survival is being awake and alert.

Working smoke alarms reduce the chances of dying in a fire by nearly 50 percent. They are a critical first step for staying safe, but in order to be effective, they have to be working properly.

For the best protection, install smoke alarms on every level of your home and in every sleeping area.

  • Install at least one smoke detector on each floor and one near each bedroom area.
  • Check detectors regularly to make sure they are working.
  • Change the batteries twice each year. An easy way to remember is to put in fresh batteries when you change the clocks in the spring and fall.
  • You can increase your chances of survival by creating a home escape plan and rehearsing it regularly. An escape plan should include multiple routes for leaving the home quickly with a designated spot for family members to meet.

This segment from NBC’s TODAY Show may surprise some parents, as it shows how kids can sleep right through the sound of a smoke alarm.

 

Carbon Monoxide

Fuel-powered devices can provide wonderful benefits to families when used properly. But they also underscore an important necessity in the home: the need for a carbon monoxide alarm.

Carbon monoxide poisoning can result from faulty furnaces or other heating appliances, portable generators, water heaters, clothes dryers, or cars left running in garages. At its worst, carbon monoxide can cause severe side effects or even death.

Young children are especially vulnerable to the effects of carbon monoxide because of their smaller bodies. Children process carbon monoxide differently than adults, may be more severely affected by it, and may show signs of poisoning sooner.  Symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning include headache, nausea and drowsiness.

Fire Escape Plan

Escape plans help you get out of your home quickly. In less than 30 seconds, a small flame can get completely out of control and turn into a major fire. It only takes minutes for a house to fill with thick black smoke and become engulfed in flames.

  • Create and practice a home fire escape plan with two ways out of your house in case of a fire.
  • Get a stopwatch and time how fast your family can escape. The kids will love it.
  • As part of your plan, designate one person to get infants and small children out safely.
  • Have a back-up plan for young children just in case the primary person is overcome by smoke.
  • Smoke is toxic. Teach children to “get low and go” if there is smoke when they are leaving the home.
  • Practice feeling the door, doorknob and cracks around the door with the back of your hand to see if they are too hot. Help your children practice this step.
  • Choose a place to meet outside that is a safe distance away from your home.

More Fire Safety Tips

September is Disaster Prepareness Month

If you only had 10 minutes to evacuate your home, would you be ready? What would you take with you? See how two families deal with an evacuation order, and what a difference having a plan can make. http://ow.ly/o5QSs

Ready your Family Emergency Plan…. http://ow.ly/o5TeB

In the event of a sudden emergency such as a hurricane, you may have just minutes to gather your family and important papers, and get out of your house, possibly for good. Are you prepared? Where would you go? What would you take with you? http://ow.ly/o5RQr

Sesame Workshop, along with its project partners has created Let’s Get Ready! Planning Together for Emergencies with tips, activities, and other easy tools to help the whole family prepare for emergencies – together! http://ow.ly/o5Siv

Build a kit for disasters and emergencies! (and don’t forget to update/refresh it) http://ow.ly/o5SFf

A Disaster Supply Kit should contain the following:

  • Water – at least 1 gallon daily per person for 3 to 7 days
  • Food – at least enough for 3 to 7 days- Non-perishable packaged or canned food / juices, foods for infants or the elderly, snack foods, non-electric can opener, cooking utensils / fuel, paper plates, plastic utensils
  • Blankets / Pillows, etc.
  • Clothing – seasonal, rain gear, sturdy shoes
  • Medical supplies – first aid kit, medicines, prescription drugs
  • Special Items – for infants and the elderly
  • Toiletries – hygiene items
  • Moisture wipes
  • Flashlight – extra batteries
  • Radio – battery-operated and NOAA weather radio
  • Cash – (Banks and ATMs may not be open or available for extended periods.)
  • Important documents – in a waterproof container- Insurance, medical records, bank account numbers, social security card, etc
  • Keys
  • Toys, books and games
  • Tools -  keep a set with you during the storm
  • Vehicle fuel tanks filled
  • Pet care items- Proper identification, immunization records, ample supply of food and water, a carrier or cage, medications, muzzle and leash.

Visit www.Ready.gov, and www.fema.gov/what-mitigation/plan-prepare for  a thorough look into disaster preparedness  and a more detailed list of emergency supplies. Also, www.Ready.gov/kids is an excellent  resource for information on how to involve children in the process of  assembling the family’s Disaster Supply Kit.