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Thursday, November 25, 2010

CAL FIRE: Holiday & Winter Fire Safety Tips

Holidays are a time for celebration, decorations, cozy fires in the fireplace, and extra goodies baking in the oven, all of which bring additional risks. Each year during the holiday and winter season fires injure thousands of people in the U.S. and cause hundreds of millions of dollars in damage. By following these holiday/winter safety tips you can help keep your family and home firesafe.
Candles are beautiful, popular, and dangerous. Do not leave burning candles unattended, or place them near flammable materials. Make sure they are in a secure place where children and pets won’t knock them over. Put candles in a non-tip candleholder before you light them. Make sure all candles are extinguished before you leave the home or office, and before going to bed. The most common area of origin for candle fires is the bedroom, then living rooms, bathrooms and the kitchen.
Make sure that all indoor and outdoor holiday lights bear the mark of an independent testing laboratory. Throw away any set with cracked lights, frayed cords, or loose or damaged sockets. Don’t overload electrical outlets or run extension cords under carpets, across doorways, or near heaters. Be sure extension cords aren’t pinched behind or under furniture, and unplug all decorative lights before leaving your home or going to bed.
Never run extension cords across lawns, driveways, or traffic areas. Power for all outdoor lighting should be supplied by permanent weatherproof wiring installed by a professional electrician.

During the holidays much time is spent cooking, so it’s critical to take precautions in the kitchen. Be sure to keep pot handles and electrical appliance cords out of the reach of children. Put a lid on a pot or pan to extinguish a food or grease fire - never use water, and in the event of an oven fire, turn off the heat and close the oven door. Avoid wearing loose or baggy clothing, and alway use potholders while working in the kitchen.
    Deep Frying A Turkey Deep-frying a turkey uses oil over an open flame, thus it presents some hazards. The operation must be considered hazardous from the time the flame is lit to the time the turkey is removed and the oil is cooled.
  • Turkey fryers should always be used outdoors a safe distance from buildings and other material that can burn. Never use on wooden decks or in garages.
  • Never leave the fryer unattended.
  • Never place a frozen turkey in the fryer. Make sure the turkey is completely thawed and be careful of marinades before placing it in the pot.
  • Lower and remove the turkey carefully and slowly to avoid oil splashing or spillage.
  • Always measure the amount of oil needed and never overfill the pot. Place the turkey in the empty pot and fill with water to just cover the turkey.
    Remove the turkey and use a ruler to measure the depth of the water– this is the amount of oil needed.
  • Keep children and pets away from the fryer during and after operation.
  • Ensure a fire extinguisher rated for flammable liquids is readily available.
  • Use a thermometer to monitor the temperature of the oil during operation and keep the temperature at 350 °F (175 °C). Reduce the heat immediately if the oil begins to smoke.
  • Use heavy gloves or well insulated potholders when touching pot or lid handles.
Home Heating:
Home fires often occur during the cold winter due to dangerous heating equipment or unsafe practices. Only use heating equipment that has the label of a recognized testing labratory and keep anything that can burn at least three feet away from heat sources. Never use a gas or kerosene heater inside your home or in a closed garage and never attempt to heat a structure with a device that was designed for outdoor use, such as a camp stove. Improper use of any heating equipment can lead to fire or dangerous levels of hazardous fumes.
Before using your fireplace, have your chimney inspected by a professional for proper installation, cracks, blockages (bird nests), leaks, or creosote build up. Creosote is a chemical substance that forms when wood burns, accumulates in chimneys and can cause a chimney fire if not removed. Be sure to open the flue for adequate ventilation when using the fireplace. Always use a fire screen, and burn only material appropriate for fireplaces. Never burn trash or paper in a fireplace. Burning paper can float up your chimney and onto your roof or onto your neighbors’ roof and can cause a fire. Remove ashes from the fireplace in a metal container and store them somewhere outside your home, and have a professional inspect and clean your fireplace, chimney or stovepipe allnually.
Be Prepared!
Test all smoke detectors in the house to make sure that they are in proper working order, and be sure to install fresh batteries every six months. Be sure that all family members know how to call the fire department, and make an escape plan so that everyone knows what to do in the event of an emergency.

Source: CAL FIRE Link

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****REMINDER**** Every fire has the ability to be catastrophic. The wildland fire management environment has profoundly changed. Growing numbers of communities, across the nation, are experiencing longer fire seasons; more frequent, bigger, and more severe, fires are a real threat. Be careful with all campfires and equipment.
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