Portable Generators

Portable generators can be invaluable during a power outage; however, unsafe use can endanger lives and property. The following document contains important information from the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA). 

 Carbon Monoxide & Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

What is Carbon Monoxide?

Each year hundreds of people die from carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning. Many of these deaths could have been prevented by installing CO alarms in the home. CO is an invisible, colorless gas that is produced by burning wood, coal, charcoal, natural gas, gasoline, propane, oil, methane, and other common fuels.

CO is also produced by automobiles and other gasoline or diesel engines. Electrical equipment does not produce carbon monoxide.

What is the danger?

Carbon monoxide enters your body, undetected, through your breathing.

Carbon monoxide poisoning can be confused with the flu, food poisoning, or other illnesses. Symptoms include headache, nausea, dizziness, lightheadedness, or shortness of breath.

High levels of CO can cause death within just a few minutes. A person can be poisoned by a small amount of CO over a longer period of time or by a large amount of CO over a shorter amount of time.

Install Carbon Monoxide Alarms in Your Home

Carbon monoxide alarms can be battery-powered, plugged into an outlet, or hard-wired into a home’s electrical system.

Buy only CO alarms that bear the label of an independent testing laboratory.

Install a CO alarm in a central location outside your home’s sleeping areas. If sleeping areas are spaced far apart, each area will need a CO alarm.

Carbon monoxide alarms are not substitutes for smoke alarms. Know the difference between the sound of a smoke alarm and the sound of a CO alarm.

Test CO alarms at least once a month and replace them according to manufacturer’s instructions.

When You Hear the Sound of a CO Alarm

If the CO warning signal sounds, immediately go to a fresh air location and call for help. Stay at the fresh air location until emergency personnel tell you that it is safe.

If the trouble signal sounds, check for low batteries or other problems.

Reducing Carbon Monoxide Risk

When you are buying home heating or cooking equipment, purchase only products that bear the label of an independent testing laboratory. Have all fuel-burning appliances (furnaces, stoves, space heaters, dryers, and water heaters) professionally installed and maintained.

If you need to warm a vehicle, remove it from the garage immediately after starting it. Do not run a vehicle, generator, or other fueled engine or motor indoors, even if garage doors are open. Make sure the exhaust pipe of a running vehicle is not covered with snow.

Never use an oven to heat your home.

Make sure your wood or coal-burning stove is properly ventilated directly into the chimney flue. Maintain your stove and adjust the draft so that the wood and coal burns efficiently.

Be sure the chimney flue is fully open when you use your fireplace.

Have all chimneys cleaned and inspected once a year.

Have your fuel-burning home heating system (fireplaces, furnaces, water heaters, wood and coal stoves), including the flue, inspected by a professional before each heating season.

Keep dryer, stove, furnace, and fireplace vents clear of ice, snow, dirt, leaves, and other debris.

When you are buying a home, have the heating and cooking systems inspected for CO. Have the seals between an attached garage and the home inspected as well.

Never use a barbeque grill or an internal combustion engine, such as a generator, indoors or near building openings.

Use only battery-powered lights inside tents, trailers, and motor homes.

 Children and Fire Safety

Some Facts
  • On average, 56,300 fires started by children occur across the country each year. These fires result in 110 deaths, 880 injuries, and $286 million in property damage.
  • Fires are the number one cause of death in the home of children up to age 14. Estimates are that across the U.S. more than a third of the fires that kill children were started by children.
  • Fires started by children are most common in July and during afternoon hours. Lighters are used to start fires 50% of the time, and matches 19%. Forty-four percent of children who start fires are 4 to 6 years old.

How to React when Children are Curious About Fire

Children have a natural curiosity about fire. If your child expresses curiosity, or you find they have been playing with matches or lighters, respond calmly, not punitively.

Firmly explain that matches / lighters are tools for adults to use carefully. Promote safe ways for your child to learn how to safely use fire, only under adult supervision, as they get older.

Teach them to respect fire as you would teach them to respect traffic or power tools.

Some children set fires out of anger, as a cry for help, or as a direct act of vandalism, and may need professional help.

Any act of fire setting, regardless of motivation, is serious.

If your child plays with matches or lighters and does not respond to your efforts to redirect that interest, seek help.

Contact the Fire Department, School Officials, or Social Services to determine what help may be available to you.

Preventative Measures

  1. Store matches and lighters out of children’s reach and sight, preferably in a locked cabinet.
  2. Teach young children to tell any adult if they see matches or lighters.
  3. Never leave children alone with an open flame.
  4. Use only lighters with child-resistant features.
  5. Teach children they cannot hide from fire, but they can escape. Review your home fire escape plan and teach stop, drop, and roll to be used in the event clothing catches fire.
  6. Do not use fire for amusement.

As always remember to install and maintain carbon monoxide alarms and smoke detectors.

This information provided by the Warren Fire Department and the National Fire Protection Association.

 Cooking Fire Facts and Safety

On average, 156,600 residential structure fires involving cooking occur across the U.S. each year. These fires cause an average of 400 deaths, 5,080 injuries, and $853 million in direct property damage.

Cooking fires are the leading cause of residential structure fires and associated injuries. Ranges account for 57% of cooking fires and ovens 16%.

Thanksgiving is the peak day for residential cooking fires.

Cooking is always one of the top 3 fire causes within the City of Warren. The typical cooking fire in the City is the result of the person responsible falling asleep or forgetting that something is cooking. Cooking fires also result when food is left cooking in the oven while an errand is run and return is unexpectedly delayed.

Like most fires, cooking fires are preventable.

You can help reduce the number of cooking fires and associated injuries that occur within our community by following the rules provided in the checklist which follows. The checklist may be downloaded.

As always, remember to install and maintain carbon monoxide alarms and smoke detectors.

This information is provided by the Warren Fire Department and national Fire Protection Association.

 Electrical Fire Facts & Safety

  • Electrical fires were involved in an estimated annual average of 47,820 reported home structure fires over the last 4 years. These fires resulted in 455 deaths and 1,518 injuries, with $1.5 billion in direct property damage. An electrical fire is a fire involving some type of electrical failure or malfunction.
  • Almost half (48%) of home structure electrical fires involve some type of electrical distribution equipment (such as wiring, outlets, switches, lamps, light bulbs, cords, or plugs). The electrical distribution equipment provided the heat leading to ignition. For example, a hot light bulb might have been too close to something that can catch fire.
  • Nearly one third (30%) of home electrical fires began with ignition of wire or cable insulation.
  • December and January are the peak months for home electrical fires.
  • The leading areas of origin for electrical fires are the bedroom (14%), attic (12%), and kitchen (11%).
  • When an electrical switch is opened or closed, an arc, or discharge of electricity occurs. If connections are loose or where wires or cords have been damaged, an unintentional arc can occur leading to high temperatures and sparking, possibly igniting anything that can burn. Arcing accounts for most home electrical fires. Installing Arc Fault Circuit Interrupters (AFCIs) in the home can offer protection against electrical fires caused by arcing.

Within the City of Warren, fires resulting from electrical devises or circuiting are always among the top five causes. These fires typically result from overloaded,  over-fused circuits or receptacles, worn out appliances or system components, and improper installations.

Adherence to the following tips and reminders will help reduce potential electrical fires and the resulting injuries: 

Electrical Safety Tips / Reminders

Safety Tips:

  • Have all electrical work done by a qualified electrician.
  • When you are buying or remodeling a home, have it inspected by a qualified electrician.
  • Only plug one heat-producing appliance (such as a coffee maker, toaster, space heater, etc.) into a receptacle outlet at a time.
  • Major appliances (refrigerators, dryers, washers, stoves, air conditioners, etc.) should be plugged directly into a wall receptacle outlet. Extension cords and plug strips should not be used.
  • Arc fault circuit interrupters (AFCI's) are a kind of circuit breaker that shuts off electricity when a dangerous condition occurs. Consider having a qualified electrician install them in your home. 
  • Use ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCI's) to reduce the risk of shock. GFCI's shut off an electrical circuit when it becomes a shock hazard. They should be installed inside the home in bathrooms, kitchens, garages, and basements. All outdoor receptacles should be GFCI protected.
  • Test AFCI's and GFCI's once a month to make sure they are working properly.
  • Check electrical cords to make sure they are not running across doorways or under carpets. Extension cords are intended for temporary use. Have a qualified electrician add more receptacle outlets so that extension cords are not needed.
  • Use light bulbs that match the recommended wattage on the lamp or fixture. There should be a sticker that indicates the maximum wattage light bulb to use.

 IMPORTANt:   Call a qualified electrician or your landlord if you have:

  • Frequent problems with blowing fuses or tripping circuit breakers
  • A tingling feeling when you touch an electrical appliance
  • Discolored or warm wall outlets
  • A burning or rubbery smell coming from an appliance
  • Flickering or dimming lights
  • Sparks from an outlet
As always, remember to install and maintain carbon monoxide alarms, and smoke detectors.

This information provided by the Warren Fire Department and the National Fire Protection Association.

 

 Extension Cord Safety

According to the US Consumer Product Safety Commission, about 3,000 fires, 4,000 injuries, and 50 deaths occur across the nation each year due to improperly used or maintained extension cords.  Improperly used or maintained extension cords are a consistent fire cause within the City of Warren.

Consider the following tips when planning use of an extension cord:

  • Use extension cords only when necessary and only on a temporary basis.
  • Do not use an extension cord that is smaller in diameter or in wire size than the appliance cord.  If you are plugging more than one appliance into an extension cord, make sure that the combined load is not greater than the rating of the extension cord.
  • If the appliance has a 3-prong plug, use a 3 prong extension cord.  The third prong is needed to safely ground the appliance.

If the appliance has a “polarized” plug (one prong is wider than the other), use a polarized extension cord.  This type of plug reduces shock hazards.

If your home has receptacles that will not accept these plugs, have a qualified person install 3-prong receptacles.  Do not alter the cord plug to make it fit.

If not installed properly, a 3-prong to 2-prong adapter can become a shock hazard.  They must be attached to the center screw of the receptacle cover plate and the receptacle must be grounded for the adapter to work properly.

  • Purchase extension cords that have been tested for safety and that have the label of a nationally-recognized testing laboratory.  These cords will have warning labels and rating information on the wrapper.
  • Replace cracked or worn cords.
  • Check your cords.  Cords that get hot are overloaded or are failing internally – STOP using the cord.
  • Never use an extension cord if it is tightly coiled or looped.  Never cover any part of a cord with papers, clothing, or rugs.  Never place it where it may be damaged by heavy furniture or foot traffic.  Never run an extension cord around a door jam.
  • Make sure cords do not dangle from counter tops where they can be pulled down by children or where they can be a trip hazard. 
  • With cords lacking safety closures, cover any unused outlets with electrical tape or with plastic caps to prevent the chance of a child making contact with the live circuit.  Above all, teach children not to play with cords, plugs, and outlets.
  • Do not use staples or nails to attach extension cords to a baseboard or other surface.  This can damage the cord and be a shock or fire hazard.
  • Use special heavy-duty extension cords for high-wattage appliances such as air conditioners, heaters or freezers.
  • Extension cords used outdoors should be specifically marked for such use to reduce shock hazard.
  • When disconnecting cords, always pull on the plug and not the cord.

 Home Fire Escape Plan

Some Fire Facts:

  • On average, there are 480,500 structure fires within the U.S. each year. These fires cause and average of 2,470 deaths, 14,700 injuries, and $9.8 billion in property damage.
  • Across the country, a structure fire is reported every 85 seconds, resulting in an injury every 32 minutes and a death every 3 hours.
  • 80% of all deaths resulting from structure fires occur in homes where people feel safest.
  • Within the City of Warren, about 66% of our fires occur in residential structures. While fire fatalities within the City are rare, they do occur.
  • According to a NFPA survey, many people believe they will have 6 minutes or more before a fire in their home becomes life threatening; however, in reality the time is often less.

Developing your Plan

Home Fire Escape Planning and drills are basic, but essential, elements of fire safety.

It’s too late to start developing a home fire escape plan when fire strikes. Everyone in the home needs to be prepared in advance so that they can snap into action when the smoke alarm sounds.

Smoke alarms provide the minutes needed to escape a fire safely. Home fire escape planning and practice ensure that everyone knows how to use that time effectively.

A home escape plan includes:

  • Two exits from every room in the home (usually a door and a window);
  • Properly installed, working smoke alarms throughout the home;
  • A meeting place outside in front of the home where everyone will meet immediately upon exiting; and
  • The local emergency phone number or 911.

All exits should be unblocked and open easily.

Security bars on windows should have quick release devices which unlock the bars from the inside of the home and allow access to the window.

Home fire escape plans should be practiced at least twice per year.

Get out and Stay Out! Never go back in a burning building to save someone or retrieve other items. If a person or pet is trapped inside, alert the Fire Department immediately.

Fire spreads rapidly. In some instances, you may have as little as two minutes from the time the smoke alarm sounds to escape safely.

The attached Home Fire Escape Checklist may be down loaded to help you develop your plan.

 Home Heating Safety

Typically, half of all home heating fires occur during the winter months. On average, heating equipment is involved in 60,420 home fires per year and results in 488 deaths, 1,620 injuries, and $913 million in direct property damage.

Heating equipment is normally a leading fire cause within the City of Warren and has been the leading fire cause over the last few years.

Nearly all home heating fires are preventable. The number of home heating fires in our community can be reduced by following these rules:

General Home Heating Rules

  1. Select heating equipment that is rated by the manufacturer for the size space you intend to heat.
  2. When possible, have any installation done by a professional and make sure all fuel burning equipment is properly vented.
  3. Maintain a 3 foot safe zone between heating equipment and anything that can burn.
  4. Have your heating equipment inspected and cleaned every fall, just before the heating season.
  5. Cooking appliances should not be used to heat a home and never use flammable or combustible liquids near heaters.

General Rules for Heating with Electricity

  1. Keep your heating equipment and anything that can burn at least 3 feet apart.
  2. Only plug power cords into outlets with sufficient capacity and never into an extension cord.
  3. Turn off heaters when you leave a room or go to bed.
  4. Inspect for cracked or broken plugs or loose connections and make necessary replacements before using.
  5. Never use or store flammable or combustible liquids near or in rooms with heaters.

General Rules for Heating with Wood and Pellet Burning Stoves

  1. Install the stove, chimney connectors, and chimneys following manufacturer’s instructions or have a professional perform the installation.
  2. Wood stoves should have the label of a recognized testing laboratory.
  3. In wood stoves, burn only dry, seasoned wood. In pellet stoves, burn only dry, seasoned wood pellets.
  4. Start the fire with newspaper or kindling, never with a flammable liquid, such as lighter fluid, kerosene, or gasoline.
  5. Keep the doors of your wood stove closed unless loading or stoking the live fire.
  6. Allow ashes to cool before disposing. Dispose of ashes in a tightly covered metal container and keep the ash container at least 10 feet away from the home and any other nearby buildings. Douse and saturate the ashes with water.
  7. Chimneys and vents need to be cleaned and inspected at least once a year.

As always, remember to install and maintain carbon monoxide alarms, and smoke detectors.

This information provided by the Warren Fire Department and the National Fire Protection Association.

 Smoking: Fire Facts & Safety

Annually, an average of 17,600 fires caused by smoking materials occur in homes across the U.S. These fires result in 490 deaths, 1,370 injuries, and $516 million in direct property damage.

Although the number of fires caused by smoking material remains significant, the long term trend has been down, with a 73% reduction since 1980. This reduction is the result of a declining number of smokers, standards which have made mattresses and upholstered furniture more fire resistant to cigarette ignition, and the adoption of fire-safe cigarette requirements.

The number of fires caused by smoking material within the City of Warren has also declined; however, when a smoking-related fire does occur, the risk to occupants may be greater. This is because these types of fires typically occur as the result of a stray ash or butt igniting upholstered furniture or material in the trash hours after occupants have gone to bed.

By observing the following tips, persons who continue to smoke can further reduce the associated fire risks.

  • If you smoke, smoke outside.
  • Whenever you smoke, use deep, wide, sturdy ashtrays. Ashtrays should be set on something sturdy and hard to ignite, like an end table, and should be emptied often.
  • Before you throw out butts and ashes, make sure they are cold. Dowsing in water or sand is the best way to do that.
  • Check under furniture cushions and in other places people smoke for cigarette butts that may have fallen out of sight.
  • Smoking should not be allowed in a home where medical oxygen is used.
  • To prevent a deadly cigarette fire, you have to be alert. You won’t be if you are sleepy, have been drinking, or have taken medicine or other drugs.

As always, remember to install and maintain carbon monoxide alarms and smoke detectors.

This information is provided by the Warren Fire Department and National Fire Protection Association.

 Candle Safety

Candle Safety has become a concern for many reasons. In recent years, several home fires in the City of Warren have been started by candles. Nationally, fires caused by candles have increased 300% since 1990.

Candles are sold nearly everywhere and their use, especially scented candles, has increased greatly in recent years. Because they are so readily available, people may assume that candles are safe and become complacent about   their use. 

The National Fire Protection Association Educational Division recommends the following precautions when using candles.

  • Never leave a burning candle unattended. Extinguish all candles when you leave the room or go to bed. Almost half of all home fires started by candles begin in the bedroom. Discourage the use of candles in the bedroom and other areas where people may fall asleep.
  • Keep candles at least one foot away from anything that can burn including curtains, blinds, wallpaper, clothing or any other material that can catch fire.
  • Do not place lit candles in windows or near doorways where drafts could bring combustibles into contact with the flame.
  • Keep candles away from flammable liquids.
  • Use candle holders that are sturdy, won’t tip over easily, are made from a material that can’t burn, and are large enough to collect dripping wax.
  • Place candle holders on a sturdy, uncluttered surface away from edges and any place where they could be knocked over by children or pets.
  • Light candles carefully. Keep your hair and any loose clothing away from the flame.
  • Keep candle wicks trimmed to one-quarter inch.
  • Extinguish tapered candles when they burn down to within two inches of their holder or any decorative material and votive candles within ½" to ¼” from the bottom.
  • Extinguish candles carefully, using a long-handled candle snuffer or a soft, directed breath. Be careful not to splatter wax when extinguishing. Do not leave the room until wicks have stopped glowing.
  • Avoid using candles during a power outage. Have flashlights and battery-powered lighting on hand for emergency lighting.
  • Never leave a child unattended in a room with a burning candle.
  • Do not allow children or teens to burn candles in their bedrooms.
  • Do not let children play with candles or dripping wax – or with materials that could catch fire near candles.
  • Store matches and lighters up high and out of children’s sight and reach, preferably in a locked cabinet.

Remember, a candle is an open flame. It can easily ignite any combustible material nearby. Keep a careful watch on candles. Also, make sure you have properly operating smoke alarms. Test your smoke alarms monthly, replace the batteries yearly and practice home fire escape plans. Fore more information, contact the Warren Fire Department at 723-2950.