IN THE KITCHEN
As much as aspiring chefs hate to admit it, the kitchen is often the source of fires that can quickly get out of control. The following are a few tips on kitchen fires - but remember, if your efforts to put out the fire are not IMMEDIATELY successful, evacuate the structure and call 911!
NEVER use water on a grease fire!
Water will cause the grease to splatter and spread the flames. If a cooking pan unintentionally becomes a flambé, carefully slide a lid over the pan and turn off the burner. DO NOT try to move the pan while it is hot! Keep the lid in place until the pan is completely cooled.
If anything catches fire in your microwave or convection oven, immediately close the oven door, turn the appliance off and unplug it, THEN CALL 911. Leaving the oven door open while frantically searching for a fire extinguisher will only allow more oxygen to feed the flames. Often once the oven door is closed, the fire will extinguish itself - however the Fire Department should still be called so that we can check for any fire extension. Don't use the appliance again until it has been serviced by a qualified technician.
Unattended cooking results in several kitchen fires each year. Always make sure all ovens and burners are turned off before leaving the kitchen.
Statistics show that over 10,000 people are treated in hospital emergency departments each year for injuries caused by firework devices. Nearly half of these injuries involve children under 15 years of age. By far the most common types of injuries due to fireworks are burns to the hands, eyes and head.
Of course, the safest way to celebrate the Fourth of July and other occasions is to leave the fireworks to the professionals. However, for those who choose to use fireworks at home, we urge you to become familiar with federal and state regulations concerning the use of fireworks by consumers, and to follow some common-sense safety tips which are listed below.
NORTH CAROLINA STATE REGULATIONS
North Carolina prohibits the use of the most dangerous types of fireworks by consumers. Especially during the summer months when we are often affected by dry conditions, fireworks can pose a serious threat. Banned fireworks in this state include:
- Ground spinners
- Roman candles
- Bottle rockets
- Any pyrotechnic that is intended to spin, leave the ground or fly through the air.
Click HERE to read North Carolina General Statue Chapter 14 Article 54 which details the regulations on the sale, possession, etc. of pyrotechnics including fireworks.
The federal government has banned the sale of the most dangerous types of fireworks to consumers. These prohibited items include:
- Large reloadable shells
- Cherry bombs
- Aerial bombs
- M-80 salutes
- Large firecrackers with more than 2 grains of powder
- Mail order kits designed to build fireworks
Here are some safety tips to keep in mind if you decide to put on your own fireworks show:
- Fireworks are not toys and should only be handled by responsible adults. Even sparklers burn as hot as 1200 F and cause hundreds of injuries every year. All children in the vicinity of fireworks must be under close supervision by adults at all times.
- NEVER point or throw fireworks at people, pets, cars or buildings.
- Always use fireworks outdoors on a paved surface, away from dry grass, wooded areas, dwellings and flammable materials.
- NEVER alter fireworks or attempt to make your own.
- NEVER ignite fireworks in a glass or metal container.
- Light one device at a time and move away from it quickly. Make sure other people and pets are out of range before lighting.
- Have a water hose or a bucket of water nearby in case of a fire emergency.
- NEVER approach or relight fireworks that have not functioned or have "fizzled". Douse and soak them with water and throw them away.
- Keep unused fireworks away from firing areas. Store them in a dry, cool place out of the reach of children.
- Dispose of all fireworks properly.
Heating equipment is the second leading cause of home fires in the United States
(mostly during the December, January, and February months).
Most heating equipment fires start as a result of misuse or improper maintenance. When purchasing new heating equipment, be sure to select products that have been tested and approved by an independent testing laboratory. Install and maintain heating equipment correctly, and be sure it complies with local fire building codes.
NOTE: If there are any space heaters in your home and/or gas appliances and/or fireplaces there should be a CO detector in the home as well. Contact your local fire department or code enforcement office to find out the specifications for these detectors.
PORTABLE and OTHER SPACE HEATERS
Portable and space heaters can be either electric or fueled by gas, liquid fuel (kerosene), or solid fuel (wood or coal). All types must be placed at least 36 inches (1 meter) away from anything that can burn, such as wallpaper, bedding, clothing, pets and people. Never leave space heaters operating when you are not in the room or when you go to sleep. Dont leave children or pets unattended with space heaters, and be sure everyone understand that drying clothing or placing combustibles over heaters is a fire hazard. If you have an electric space heater check each season for fraying or splitting wires and overheating. Have all problems repaired by a professional before operating the space heater.
PORTABLE KEROSENE HEATERS
If you have a liquid fueled heater, use only the fuel recommended by the manufacturer. Never use gasoline or any other substitute fuel, because the wrong fuel could burn hotter than the equipments design limits and cause a fire. When refueling, always turn off the heater and let it cool down before adding fuel. Wipe up any spills promptly. If you are considering a kerosene heater, be sure to check with a local fire department before purchasing to find out if it is legal in your community. Store the kerosene away from heat or open flame in a container approved by a local fire department, and be sure it is clearly marked with the fuel name.
Be sure your wood or coal stove bares the label of a recognized testing laboratory and meets local fire codes. Follow the manufacturers recommendations for proper installation, use and maintenance. Chimney connections and chimney flues should be inspected at the beginning of the heating season and cleaned periodically. Follow the same safety rules for wood stoves as you would for space heaters. Burn only wood, and be sure the wood stove is placed on an approved stove board to protect the floor from heat and hot embers. Check with your local fire department and local code officials before having your wood stove installed.
CAUTION: Portable LP gas (Propane) heaters with self-contained fuel supplies (cabinet heaters) are prohibited for home use by NFPA fire safety standards.
FIREPLACE SAFETY TIPS
Have your chimney inspected by a professional prior to the start of every heating season and cleaned if necessary. Creosote, a chemical substance that forms when wood burns, builds up in chimneys and can cause a chimney fire if not properly cleaned. Always protect your home and your family by using a sturdy screen when burning fires. Remember to burn only wood never burn paper or pine boughs, which can float out the chimney and ignite your roof or a neighboring home. Never use flammable liquids in a fireplace.
If you are purchasing a factory-built fireplace, select one listed by a testing laboratory, and have it installed according to local codes
Everyone can enjoy the comfort and warmth of a fireplace by following these simply guidelines:
- Burn only wood in your fireplace. The fireplace is not where trash should be burned. Unless you have followed the directions for making safe paper logs or are starting a fire, do not put paper in your fireplace.
- Charcoal starter, lighter fluid, or gasoline should never be used to ignite a fire.
- Creosote is an oily liquid with a penetrating odor which can coat the inside of a chimney and form a hazardous build-up. When trying to find wood to burn, the seasoned wood (split logs that have been left to dry under cover for at least six months) is best because it has less creosote than unseasoned wood and therefore is less likely to damage your chimney and give off offensive odors. However, the hardwoods (i.e. maples, poplars and oaks) produce less creosote than soft woods such as pine. Soft wood also gives off more ash, reducing the fires heat and causing huge quantities of soot that hamper log burning.
- Burn pressed logs only in an open fireplace, never in a closed stove. Pressed logs, the kind sold in stores, give off higher heat than natural logs, so the specific safety instructions must be followed carefully.
- Fireplaces should be inspected annually for creosote build-up and structural damage to chimneys. Put chimney caps in place to keep out small animals and birds.
- The flue should be open when you start your fireplace because smoke from the burning logs can fill up the house when the flue is closed. As a reminder, attach an iron ornament to the flue pull that shows that the flue is open. Use a fireplace screen to prevent embers and sparks from spraying past the hearth and burning people, animals and rugs.
- Teach curious small children (and pets) to stay away from the burning fire.
Safety & Prevention - Fire Safety At Home
Deep Fried Turkey Safety
During the holidays, the process of deep frying a turkey requires a lot of preparation and precaution. The instructions provided with the cooking-pot should be read carefully before attempting to deep-fry a turkey. This is critical in order to prevent a serious fire or burn injury. Take a cautionary note from the fact that the appliance probably does not carry the seal from a testing lab such as Underwriters Laboratory.
Here are some additional basic safety tips from the Vancouver Fire Department and the Office of the Washington State Fire Marshal to help keep you and your family safe:
1. Prepare in advance, and use proper equipment
- Use a specially designed outdoor cooker/deep fryer with a perforated basket insert. The cooking pot should be a 10-gallon or more capacity unit that stands three feet high and is hooked up to a propane gas cylinder. The propane cylinder must be separated by a minimum of 2-feet from the fryer. Remember it is important to read and follow the manufacturer’s directions and safety instructions that come with the cooker.
- Place the fryer on a flat and level surface.
- Be aware of your clothing around the hot oil, which can spatter, and the open flame, which could ignite clothing. Roll sleeves up and tuck away loose clothing.
- Be sure you are strong enough to lower the turkey into, and lift it from, the 350-degree oil safely.
2. Keep heated items (hot oil and the propane cooker) way from anything that can burn.
- The entire area for at least 10-feet in all directions must be fireproof. Never deep-fry a turkey indoors, in a garage, on a porch, on a deck, or in any other structure attached to a building
- Keep children and pets away from the cooking area. Never leave the hot oil unattended.
- The deep-fryer unit should be positioned so any wind will direct the heat away from the gas cylinder, people, and structures.
3. Watch what you heat and cook.
- Deep fryers must always be attended during cooking.
- Never use a frozen turkey because the ice crystals can cause it to “explode” when it comes in contact with the hot oil.
- Oil should not be allowed to go over 350-degrees; oil can ignite at 375-degrees. Allow oil to cool completely before disposing or storing.
- Never cover the deep fryer because this could cause over-heating, or boiling-over of the hot oil.
- Should a fire start, clear all people from the area and call 911 immediately.
4. Be Safe and Enjoy your turkey when you're done.
GENERAL GRILLING SAFETY
Do not ever use a grill indoors. Make sure the grill is at least 10 feet away from your home or any building.
Never use a grill under any covering that could catch fire such as a garage, breezeway, carport, porch or awning.
If small children and/or pets are around, do not ever leave a grill unattended.
When using a grill around a wooded area, be aware of any overhead obstructions such as tree branches.
A fire extinguisher should always be handy when grilling. You should also know how to use this equipment.
- Manufacturers instructions should always be followed when using a grill.
SAFETY TIPS FOR GAS GRILL
- Inspect the grill thoroughly to include the tubes leading into the burner for any blockage from insects, spiders or grease.
If a blockage is found, a pipe cleaner or wire may be used to clean it by pushing it through to the main part of the burner.
All of the hoses should be checked for cracking, brittleness, holes and leaks. There should not be any kinks in the hose or tubing.
Any gas hoses should be moved far away from hot surfaces and dripping hot grease.
Any hose connectors in disrepair can eventually leak gas and should be replaced before use.
- Per the manufacturers instructions, check for gas leaks. Check to make sure you cant smell gas when you reconnect the grill to the propane tank.
- Under no circumstances should a match be used to check for gas leaks. If a leak is found, turn off the gas and do not try to light the grill again until
the leak is fixed.
Do not smoke or have open flames near a leaking grill.
The repair of a tank valve or the appliance itself should not be a self-repair project. The local home improvement store, hardware store or a qualified appliance repair person should be the one to fix the leak.
Caution should also be used during storage of any propane tank. The container should always be in an upright position. Under no circumstances should a spare tank be stored under or near the grill or indoors. Flammable liquids, i.e. gasoline, should never be stored or used near the grill.
When transporting propane tanks, they should be secured in an upright position.
As of April, 2002, all tanks sold or refilled are required to have what is called an over-fill prevention device. This device protects against propane leaks that may cause fire or explosions.
Under no circumstances should a propane tank be kept in a hot car. The heat will cause the gas pressure to increase which may open the relief valve and allow gas to escape into your vehicle.
- Always follow the manufacturers instructions when connecting or disconnecting a propane tank to your grill. This will go a long way to prevent injuries or worse.
SAFETY TIPS FOR CHARCOAL GRILLS
Do not under any circumstances use these grills indoors even if there is ventilation. Charcoal produces carbon monoxide fumes which are extremely harmful to pets and humans.
Do not use gasoline or kerosene to light charcoal as they can explode.
Do not ever restart a flame by adding additional lighter fluid to an already lit grill.
Only use a UL listed electric charcoal lighter.
Always keep a spray bottle of water nearby a grill to handle flare-ups.
Make sure that the grilling surface is flat to avoid tip-overs.
Do not dispose of hot coals. Always wait for the coals to cool off (which may take a few hours) before disposing of them.
- Hot coals can reach temperatures up to 1000 degrees F. When handling any part of the grill or cooking, use insulated, flame retardant mitts. Also, for safe handling of food and coals use long-handled barbecue tongs and utensils.
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Every second counts when you or a loved one is in an emergency situation.
Unfortunately, sometimes precious time is lost due to poor address markings, and sometimes, no visible house numbers at all!
If we can't find you, we can't help you!