Fire Safety Tips for AutumnPosted on September 8, 2015
As we prepare for the cooler months we should prepare our homes. Knowing that we will be spending more time indoors, staying warm from the elements, and preparing for upcoming holidays, it’s always a nice time of the year for families. Let’s take the time now to make sure that we can be more secure; knowing we have taken care of our safety issues in our home.
Time change means battery change!!
Make it a habit of changing the batteries in smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors every fall and spring when changing clocks for daylight savings time. It should also be a habit to check fire extinguishers to ensure that they are fully charged and in good working order.
Home heating tips
Regardless of the heating system you use to heat your home, it’s wise to ensure it’s in good working order before the cold weather rolls in on us. Today’s heating systems have many safety devices built in, as well as many electronic parts. Have your HVAC system serviced and cleaned before winter hits. Remember that carbon monoxide is produced by incomplete burning of various fuels, including, but not limited to wood, home heating oil, and natural gas.
The symptoms of CO poisoning include:
Shortness of breath
Flu like symptoms
When left untreated, confusion, loss of consciousness and death can occur. On average 170 people in the United States die from CO poisoning, caused by malfunctioning fuel burning appliances, each year.
Again, check your CO detectors and have your heating system professionally inspected and serviced annually.
Do not neglect to have your heating system chimney or exhaust inspected and cleaned or repaired as needed.
If you use a space heater, provide at least 3 foot of empty space around the heater. Never place the heater near furniture or drapery, and at bedtime or when you leave the house, turn off the heater.
If you use a fireplace or wood burning stove, have your chimney inspected and cleaned annually. A chimney cap can prevent birds and animals from nesting or living in your chimney. A blocked chimney can be a source of CO build up in your home. Always use a fireplace screen. Keep air inlets on wood stoves open and never restrict the air supply to a fireplace, otherwise you may cause a creosote buildup that could cause a chimney fire. Never use flammable liquids to start a fire, and burn only seasoned hardwood. Avoid burning trash or debris and build small fires that burn completely and produce less smoke. Never leave a fire unattended, and place ashes in a metal container outside and away from your home, soaking the ash in water is a good practice.
Clean fallen leaves from your house. Wet leaves on sidewalks and driveways can cause a hazard for pedestrians, making for slippery conditions.
Don’t store your propane cylinders in the house. Many fires and explosions have occurred from leaking propane in garages and basements. Propane is heavier that air, so it drifts on your basement floor, until it finds an open flame on your furnace or water heater. Store the cylinders outdoors or in the shed.
Please be careful with the decorations used at Halloween. Dried corn stalks or bales of hay are often used to celebrate the holiday at many houses. Jack-o-lanterns with real candles inside may pose a fire threat. Small electric candles can be a wise substitute not requiring close monitoring.
When hay bales get wet, this may stimulate a microbial growth and chemical changes in the hay. Like a compost pile, internal temperatures may reach the point of spontaneous combustion. Watch the bale of hay for signs of steam off the bale. Keep the decorative hay away from your home.
The Fire Prevention Bureau has added a new feature to the Township website. We are maintaining a webpage called “Recalls” with relevant information taken from the Consumer Protection Safety Commission’s website at http://www.cpsc.gov. Go to our Recalls page at https://twp.montgomery.nj.us/departments/fire-prevention/recalls/
To summarize our safety reminders: change the batteries in your smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors when you change the clocks, be aware of potential fire hazards around the home, including holiday decorations and recalls, and be aware of the signs of carbon monoxide poisoning.
Remember that CO poisoning usually occurs in the cooler weather season. If you suspect a CO issue, don’t wait, act on your instincts. The maintenance inspections on heating appliances can pay off big dividends – it’s cheap life insurance!
If we can answer any fire safety related questions, don’t hesitate to call. We are here to help.
Montgomery Fire Prevention Bureau
908 359 8211
Roy Mondi, Fire Marshal ext. 237
Joe Boyle, Fire Inspector ext. 228