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Fire Safety Spring/Summer

SPRING & SUMMER FIRE SAFETY

 

Wildland Fire Safety 

Wildland fires are a serious threat to lives and property in the U.S. The combination of drought, warmer temperatures, high winds and an excess of dried vegetation in forests and grasslands has made fire seasons progressively worse over the past 50 years. In the past decade, wildfires have burned over 60 million acres of these lands. According to the National Interagency Fire Center (NIFC), 2012 saw one of the worst fire seasons in decades, with over nine million acres burned.

NFPA President Jim Pauley talks about the wildfire problem and what is being done to combat it. To learn more, read Pauley's First Word column in the September/October issue of NFPA Journal.

 

Facts and figures

  • According to the National Interagency Fire Center, 2014 saw more than 63,000 wildfires burn over 3.5 million acres.
     
  • According to the U.S. Fire Administration: In 2012, 67,774 wildfires burned 9,326,238 acres (an area that’s bigger than NJ, Connecticut and Delaware). This makes 2012 the third highest year with the most acres burned since national wildfire statistics have been kept, beginning in 1960. Remaining at the number one and two spots are 2006 with 9.9 million, and 2007 with 9.3 million.
     
  • In 2014, more than 1,900 primary structures were lost due to wildfire and attributed to house-to-house ignitions. From 2004 – 2014, primary structure losses totaled more than 15,000.
     
  • The National Association of State Foresters (NASF) cites more than 72,000 U.S. communities are now at risk from wildfire.
     
  • According to NFPA, large-loss fires accounted for nearly $800 million in direct property losses nationwide in 2011. The Bastrop County Complex (Texas) wildfire alone resulted in $400 million in property loss and was the largest of the large-loss fires recorded during that year. See the 10 largest loss wildland fires in the U.S.
     
  • InciWeb, an incident information system, provides the most timely and accurate wildfire incident information for the public, media relations and public affairs professionals. Wildfire information on InciWeb includes the name of the fire, location and number of acres burned.

 

GRILLING FIRE SAFETY 

Fire in the grill, under hot dogs and burgers, is a welcome sight at the family cookout. But fire anywhere else can make your summer kick-off barbecue memorable for all the wrong reasons.

  • Propane and charcoal BBQ grills should only be used outdoors.
  • The grill should be placed well away from the home, deck railings and out from under eaves and overhanging branches.
  • Keep children and pets away from the grill area.
  • Keep your grill clean by removing grease or fat buildup from the grills and in trays below the grill.
  • Never leave your grill unattended.

Charcoal grills

  • There are several ways to get the charcoal ready to use. Charcoal chimney starters allow you to start the charcoal using newspaper as a fuel.
  • If you use a starter fluid, use only charcoal starter fluid. Never add charcoal fluid or any other flammable liquids to the fire.
  • Keep charcoal fluid out of the reach of children and away from heat sources.
  • There are also electric charcoal starters, which do not use fire. Be sure to use an extension cord for outdoor use.
  • When you are finished grilling, let the coals completely cool before disposing in a metal container.

Propane grills
Check the gas tank hose for leaks before using it for the first time each year. Apply a light soap and water solution to the hose. A propane leak will release bubbles. If your grill has a gas leak, by smell or the soapy bubble test, and there is no flame, turn off the gas tank and grill. If the leak stops, get the grill serviced by a professional before using it again. If the leak does not stop, call the fire department. If you smell gas while cooking, immediately get away from the grill and call the fire department. Do not move the grill.

Grilling facts from NFPA

Be sure to use safe grilling practices as the peak months for grilling fires approach – June and July. Gas grills constitute a higher risk, having been involved in an annual average of 7,200 home fires in 2007-2011, while charcoal or other solid-fueled grills were involved in an annual average of 1,400 home fires.

Facts & figures

  •  In 2007-2011, U.S. fire departments responded to an average of 8,800 home and outside fires. These 8,800 fires caused an annual average of 10 civilian deaths, 140 civilian injuries and $96 million in direct property damage.
  • More than one-quarter (27%) of the home structure fires involving grills started on a courtyard, terrace or patio, 29% started on an exterior balcony or open porch, and 6% started in the kitchen.
  • In almost half (43%) of the home outdoor fires in which grills were involved, half (51%) of the outside gas grills, and 29% of gas grill structure fires, the fire started when a flammable or combustible gas or liquid caught fire.

Source: NFPA's "Home Fires Involving Cooking Equipment," by Marty Ahrens, November 2013.

  

LIGHTNING SAFETY 

Fires started by lightning peak in the summer months and in the late afternoon and early evening.

Facts & figures

  • During 2004-2008, U.S.fire departments responded to an estimated annual average of 24,600 fires started by lightning. These fires caused annual averages of 12 civilian deaths, 47 civilian injuries, and $407 million in direct property damage.
  • More than half of fires caused by lightning occur outdoors. Deaths and injuries from lightning fires is small, but the dollar loss is more than $400 million per year.
  • In 2004-2008, only 18% of reported lightning fires occurred in homes, but these accounted for 88% of the civilian deaths, 77% of the associated injuries and 70% of the property damage.

Source: NFPA's "Lightning Fires and Lightning Strikes" report by Ben Evarts, December 2010

Summer is the peak time of the year for lightning strikes and lightning fires. However, lightning does occur year round. It’s important to be prepared for this dangerous weather phenomenon. Outdoor safety    

  • If you can hear thunder, you are within striking distance of lightning. Look for shelter inside a home, large building, or a hard-topped vehicle right away. Do not go under tall tress for shelter. There is no place outside that is safe during a thunderstorm. Wait at least 30 minutes after the last thunder before leaving your shelter.
  • Stay away from windows and doors.
  • If you are in or on open water, go to land and seek shelter immediately.
  • If you feel your hair stand on end, that means lightning is about to strike, squat low to the ground on the balls of your feet. Place your hands over your ears and your head between your knees. Make yourself the smallest target possible and minimize your contact with the ground. Do not lie flat on the ground. This is a last resort when a building or hard-topped vehicle is not available.
  • If a person is struck by lightning, call 9-1-1 and get medical care immediately. Lightning strike victims carry no electrical charge; attend to them immediately. Check their breathing, heartbeat, and pulse. CPR may be needed.

Indoor safety

  • Unplug appliances and other electrical items, like computers, and turn off air conditioners. If you are unable to unplug them, turn them off. Stay off corded phones, computers, and other electronic equipment that put you in direct contact with electricity or plumbing. Avoid washing your hands, bathing, doing laundry, or washing dishes.

 

Carbon Monoxide:

Each year in America, more than 150 people die from accidental non-fire related carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning associated with consumer products. These products include faulty, improperly-used or incorrectly-vented fuel-burning appliances such as furnaces, stoves, water heaters and fireplaces. Source: Consumer Product Safety Commission

The U.S. Fire Administration (USFA) would like you to know that there are simple steps you can take to protect yourself from deadly carbon monoxide fumes.

Understanding the Risk

What is carbon monoxide?

CO, often called "the silent killer," is a gas you cannot see, taste, or smell. It can be created when fossil fuels, such as kerosene, gasoline, coal, natural gas, propane, methane or wood do not burn properly.

Where does carbon monoxide come from?

CO poisoning can result from faulty furnaces or other heating appliances, portable generators, water heaters, clothes dryers or cars left running in garages.

What are the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning?

Symptoms of CO poisoning include headache, nausea and drowsiness. Exposure to undetected high levels of carbon monoxide can be fatal.

CO Alarm Installation:

·        Choose a CO alarm that has the label of a recognized testing laboratory. Install and maintain CO alarms inside your home to provide early warning of carbon monoxide.

·         CO alarms should be installed in a central location outside each separate sleeping area, on every level of the home, and in other locations where required by applicable laws, codes or standards. For the best protection, have CO alarms that are interconnected throughout the home. When one sounds, they all sound.

·        Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for placement and mounting height.

·         Combination smoke-CO alarms must be installed in accordance with requirements for smoke alarms.

·        CO alarms are not substitutes for smoke alarms and vice versa. Know the difference between the sound of smoke alarms and the sound of CO alarms.

CO Alarms: Testing and Replacement

·         Test CO alarms at least once a month and replace them if they fail to respond correctly when tested. The sensors in CO alarms have a limited life. Replace the CO alarm according to manufacturer’s instructions or when the end-of-life signal sounds.

·         Know the difference between the sound of the CO alarm and the smoke alarm, and their low-battery signals. If the audible low battery signal sounds, replace the batteries or replace the device. If the CO alarm still sounds, get to a fresh air location and call 9-1-1 or the fire department.

·         To keep CO alarms working well, follow manufacturer’s instructions for cleaning.

CO Precautions:

·         Have fuel-burning heating equipment (fireplaces, furnaces, water heaters, wood stoves, coal stoves, space heaters and portable heaters) and chimneys inspected by a professional every year.

·         Open the damper for proper ventilation before using a fireplace.

·        Never use your oven or stovetop to heat your home. The CO gas might kill people and pets.

·        When purchasing new heating and cooking equipment, select products tested and labeled by a recognized testing laboratory.

·        Make sure all fuel-burning vented equipment is vented to the outside to avoid CO poisoning. Keep the venting for exhaust clear and unblocked.

·         If you need to warm a vehicle, remove it from the garage immediately after starting it. Never run a vehicle or other fueled engine or motor indoors, even if garage doors are open. Make sure the exhaust pipe of a running vehicle is not blocked with snow, ice or other materials. The CO gas might kill people and pets.

·        Make sure vents for the dryer, furnace, stove and fireplace are clear of snow and other debris.

·        Only use barbecue grills outside, away from all doors, windows, vents and other building openings. Some grills can produce CO gas. Never use grills inside the home or the garage, even if the doors are open.

·         Use portable generators outdoors in well-ventilated areas away from all doors, windows, vents and other building openings to prevent exhaust fumes from entering the home.

If Your CO Alarm Sounds:

·         Immediately move to a fresh air location (outdoors or by an open window or door). Make sure everyone inside the home is accounted for.

·        Call 9-1-1 or the fire department from a fresh air location (outdoors or by an open window). Remain at a fresh air location until emergency personnel arrive to assist you.

FIRE SAFETY LINKS

National Fire Protection Association - Fire Safety Information

Interactive Fire Safety Games

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention - Fire Prevention

Fire Safety for Kids - Sparky

My Safe Home

 

Finally, having a working smoke alarm dramatically increases your chances of surviving a fire. And remember to practice a home escape plan frequently with your family.

Remember, fire safety is your personal responsibility ...Fire is Everyone’s Fight!

 

 

IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO COME TO THE FIRE STATION TO LEARN MORE ABOUT FIRE SAFETY, 

PLEASE FEEL FREE TO CONTACT US AT 724-258-5240 WITH YOUR NAME AND NUMBER SO WE CAN SET UP A TOUR.

WE ALSO GIVE TOURS AND FIRE SAFETY EDUCATION LESSONS TO GROUPS SUCH AS BOY SCOUTS, GIRL SCOUTS, YOUTH GROUPS ETC.

 

 


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