Fire Safety Tips
Marshall Fire Department
The Marshall Fire Department is committed to community risk reduction by not only fighting fire and dealing with hazardous materials incidents, but by taking an approach of identifying all potential hazards and reducing the risks of bad events from occurring. Many fire and other dangerous issues can be avoided through knowledge and preplanning for potentially disastrous events. The Marshall Fire Department would like to offer helpful tips that could help save life and property.
The purpose of this section of our web page is to offer homeowners and residential occupants educational information. Please feel free to contact our office at any time if there ever is a need for answered questions concerning life safety. We want to take every opportunity to help protect the citizens of Marshall and their property from the threat of fire by showing ways to reduce the potential risks of fire and showing what to do in the unfortunate moment a fire may occur.
Forty-seven percent of businesses severely damaged or destroyed by fire go out of business within two years. For the City of Marshall, between 2005 and 2010, there were 212 fires that occurred in private dwellings. One civilian was killed and $3,900,000 dollars in damages were reported as a result of those fires.
• Common Hazards
• Carbon Monoxide
• Smoke Detectors
• Candle Safety
• Christmas Tree Safety
• Heater/Fireplace Safety
• Smoking Material Safety
What Are The Fire Hazards in Your Home?
The kitchen remains the number one room of origin for fires in residences within the nation. This is no different for the citizens of Marshall, with bad kitchen cooking habits being the number one reason for these residential fires. Most of these fires and risks can be avoided, rendering the kitchen a relatively safe place. You can reduce the risks for kitchen fires and hazards by:
• Stand by your stove, never leaving a cooking project at any time.
• Keep a lid close by that can be used to cover a pan in case of a grease fire.
• Clean up accumulated grease.
• Know the location, type and purpose of your fire extinguisher.
• Examine your extinguisher for any signs of damage or tampering.
• Know how to use your fire extinguisher.
• Avoid wearing loose clothing that could get caught in flames or appliances.
• Keep pot and pan handles pointed toward the back of the stove top.
• Never leaving a child alone when cooking or when any electrical appliances are within reach.
• Talk to children about safety precautions in simple, clear terms. Younger children need frequent reminders.
• Never mix cooking with alcohol or medicines which can make you drowsy; and never start a cooking project when you are tired or sleepy.
• Do not overload electrical sockets.
• Plug microwave ovens and other cooking appliances directly into an outlet, never using extension cords.
• Check all appliances and extension cords for frayed or exposed wires. Open or damaged wires can start a fire.
• Professionally clean and service heating systems and furnaces annually. Poor ventilation and old wiring can cause fires. Also, make sure your system has an emergency shut-off switch.
• Do not leave space heaters near flammable materials such as upholstery and drapes. Do not add fuel to a portable heater that is still on or hot.
• Unplug heat-producing appliances, such as toasters, space heaters and irons, that are not in use. On/Off switches can fail, leaving the appliance on.
• Use only appliances listed by Underwriter Laboratories (UL). They are tested for safety.
• Select a space heater with a guard around the flame area or the heating element. This will help keep children, pets and clothing away from the heat source.
• When selecting a heater, look for one that has been tested and certified by a nationally recognized testing laboratory. These heaters have been determined to meet specific safety standards, and manufacturers are required to provide important use and care information to the consumer.
• Buy a heater that is the correct size for the area you want to heat. The wrong size heater could produce more pollutants and may not be an efficient use of energy.
• Read and follow the manufacturer’s operating instructions. A good practice is to read aloud the instructions and warning labels to all members of the household to be certain that everyone understands how to operate the heater safely. Keep the owner’s manual in a convenient place to refer to when needed.
• Keep children and pets away from space heaters. Some heaters have very hot surfaces. Children should not be permitted to either adjust the controls or move the heater.
• Keep doors open to the rest of the house if you are using an unvented fuel-burning space heater. This helps to prevent pollutant build-up and promotes proper combustion. Even vented heaters require ventilation for proper combustion.
• Never leave a space heater on when you go to sleep or leave the area. For fuel-fired heaters, dangerous levels of carbon monoxide could accumulate or uncontrolled burning could cause a fire.
• Never use or store flammable liquids (such as gasoline) around a space heater. The flammable vapors can flow from one part of the room to another and be ignited by the open flame or by an electrical spark.
• Be aware that mobile homes require specially designed heating equipment. Only electric or vented fuel-fired heaters should be used.
• Place heaters at least three feet away from objects such as bedding, furniture and drapes. Never use heaters to dry clothes or shoes. Do not place heaters where towels or other objects could fall on the heater and start a fire.
Carbon Monoxide — The Silent Killer
As the mercury begins to dip, some families will use various ways to heat their homes such as turning on the kitchen stove burners and the oven in an effort to take the chill off of their home. What these families don’t realize is how dangerous this practice can be. A gas oven or range top should never be used for heating. A fire could start and poisonous carbon monoxide (CO) fumes could fill the home. Any fuel-burning heating equipment (fireplaces, furnaces, water heaters, space or portable heaters), generators and chimneys can produce carbon monoxide.
According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) there is an increased risk of dying in a home fire during the winter season. December, January and February are generally the deadliest months for fire.
Also, hundreds of people die each year from unintentional CO poisoning. Fire departments responded to an estimated 61,000 CO incidents in 2005, a 9% increase from 2004. (This excludes incidents where a fire was present.) Close to 90% of CO incidents occur in the home.
Often called a silent killer, CO is an invisible, odorless, colorless gas created when fuels such as gasoline, wood, coal, natural gas, propane, oil and methane, burn incompletely.
CO enters the body through breathing. CO poisoning can be confused with flu symptoms, food poisoning and other illnesses. Some symptoms include shortness of breath, nausea, dizziness, lightheadedness and headaches.
Everyone is at risk for CO poisoning, but infants, pregnant women and people with physical conditions that limit their ability to use oxygen, such as emphysema, asthma or heart disease, can be more severely affected by low concentrations of CO than healthy adults. High levels of CO can be fatal for anyone, causing death within minutes.
The goal of the Marshall Fire Department is to reduce the number of carbon monoxide incidents in Marshall and Harrison County and discourage anyone from using the range or oven to heat their home. Install CO alarms inside your home to provide early warning of accumulating CO. Have your heating equipment inspected by a professional every year before cold weather sets in.
• CO alarms are not substitutes for smoke alarms. Know the difference between the sound of smoke alarms and CO alarms.
• Test CO alarms at least once a month.
• If your CO alarm sounds, immediately move to a fresh air location and call for help. Remain at the fresh air location until emergency personnel say it is okay.
• If the audible trouble signal sounds, check for low batteries or other trouble indicators.
The Marshall Fire Department wants everyone to be warm and safe during the winter. Make sure your home has carbon monoxide alarms.
The good news? Over ninety-three percent of all homes in the United States have at least one smoke alarm. The bad news is that one-third of them are not working. Make sure your smoke alarms are operating correctly by testing them regularly.
FREQUENCY OF BATTERY CHECKS
A proper and frequent check of your smoke and fire alarm is just as important as having one.
• A good rule of thumb is to replace the batteries twice a year, at the same time you change your clocks for daylight savings time.
• Change the battery when the alarm's low battery signal emits the sound indicating a change is necessary.
INSTALLATION LOCATION & MAINTENANCE
• For minimum coverage, a smoke and fire alarm should be installed on every level of the home and in every sleeping area.
• For maximum protection, a detector should be installed on every level including:
o basements and finished attics.
o each bedroom, and in the hall outside of every sleeping area.
o at the top and bottom of stairways.
o rooms that are frequently used.
• Remember that smoke detectors generally have a 12 year lifespan and should be checked for effectiveness.
WHAT TO DO IF YOUR SMOKE ALARM SOUNDS
A working smoke and fire alarm doubles a person's chance of surviving a fire and could reduce fatalities by up to 90 percent. The loud alarm of a smoke and fire alarm can warn you of a dangerous situation before it becomes too late. When you are awakened by the alarm, make sure other family members are also awake.
If sleeping and a smoke and fire alarm sounds, immediately exit the home. Do not stop to get dressed, find the family pet or collect valuables. The loss of a family pet is difficult but the extra minutes it takes to locate them could cost lives. Fire moves very quickly and there are no seconds to spare! Teach children what the smoke and fire alarm sounds like.
• When leaving a room in a burning building, never open a door without feeling the door to see if it is warm. If it is hot, use an alternate exit, if possible. A warm door may mean there is a fire on the other side.
• Close doors behind you as you leave a building in a fire. This will slow the progress of the fire.
• If you should awaken to a smoke filled room, stay low and crawl below the smoke to safety.
• If your hair or clothing catch on fire, smother the flames with a thick material such as a towel, thick sweater, etc. or Stop, Drop and Roll to smother clothing fires. Get medical attention as soon as possible.
A Candle Meant To Decorate . . .Can Devastate!
Recent trends involving the use of decorative candles could bring disaster to your home. While they can enhance the mood and bring warmth to a room, candles must be used properly to prevent a fire in your home.
Make sure that candles are secured in stable non-flammable holders, such as metal, ceramic, or glass. Anything made of wood or decorated with dried materials or fabric is asking for trouble. A candle should never be used without some sort of holder; otherwise, it can burn down to the surface on which it stands.
Keep candles away from flammable materials including papers, towels, and silk and dried flower arrangements. Keep in mind that curtains can drift across a candle flame and ignite.
Whenever children are in your home, keep candles and matches out of their reach. Never leave a child unsupervised in a room with a lighted candle.
Don't leave any candle unattended. If you must leave the room, extinguish all candles; that way, you'll be saving them for the times you will be there to enjoy them!
The BEST way to fight fires is to prevent them from starting in the first place!
Christmas Tree Safety
A Christmas tree, even one treated to be flame-retardant, is capable of burning explosively, spreading the fire throughout your home quickly. Following the Christmas tree safety recommendations below will help prevent this tragedy from occurring in your home!
Choose Your Tree Carefully!
• A live tree, which can be planted after Christmas, will be more likely to stay fresh throughout the season than a cut tree. Choose a healthy one and water it moderately while in the house.
• When choosing a cut tree, look for freshness; the needles should be difficult to pull from the branches and shouldn't break when bent between your fingers.
• If purchasing an artificial tree, choose one that is labeled fire resistant.
Consider Where You’re Placing Your Tree and Furniture!
• Position the tree away from fireplaces, heat registers, direct sunlight, and other sources of heat that can cause the tree to dry out prematurely or even ignite it.
• If rearranging furniture to make room for the tree, maintain clearance from sources of heat while maintaining safe exit ways and passageways
Keep Your Cut Tree Fresh!
• Once home, spray the tree with water to remove dead needles and dust, then cut 2 inches off the base and immerse the cut end into water immediately.
• Place the tree in a sturdy stand, capable of holding a large amount of water.
• Check the water in the tree stand often. An average tree can consume a quart to a gallon of water every day.
• Do not allow the water level to drop below the base of the tree or pores will seal again, preventing water absorption. If pouring water in the basin is difficult, add ice cubes regularly.
Decorate The Tree Safely!
• Decorate a tree with miniature lights rather than the larger ones to prevent heat build up and lessen drying effects. NEVER use real candles on a tree.
• Inspect used lights carefully for frayed wires, broken sockets, or signs of wear.
• Use only UL listed lights and other electrical items and limit to no more than 3 strands or items per outlet.
• Turn off tree and exterior lights before leaving the house or going to bed.
• Remove the tree from the house promptly.
• NEVER burn a Christmas tree in the fireplace or woodstove!
• Christmas Tree Recycling
• State Fire Marshal Certified Christmas Tree flame Retardant Applicators*
REMEMBER . . . The BEST way to fight fires is to prevent them from starting in the first place!
Heater / Fire Place safety
Cozy, Warm, and . . . Safe!
While heating appliances and fireplaces make life comfortable, they're also a major cause of home fires and other problems. City Of Marshall Fire Department Fire Prevention Officers hope you'll keep the following concerns in mind:
Portable heaters should be Underwriters Laboratory (UL) listed and shut off automatically if tipped over. They should be kept in good condition with no frayed wires or accumulations of dust. Small children should never be left unattended in the same room with a portable heater, even for a minute. Keep all combustible items, including newspapers, bed linens, furniture, and draperies at least three feet away. Any heating appliance should be plugged directly into a wall outlet—not into an extension cord.
Stationary home furnaces should be kept free of dust and the filters should be changed regularly. Keep all combustible items at least three feet away. Consult your owner's manual, gas, or electric company if you have any concerns about the operation of your furnace. Repairs or modifications should be made only by qualified service technicians.
While it may be tempting to use a barbecue or hibachi stove for indoor heating purposes, the fact is that charcoal gives off lethal amounts of carbon monoxide when it burns. Kerosene heaters should not to be used in the home, either, because they remove oxygen from the air. In fact, it's illegal to use them in a residence.
Every fireplace should have a sturdy screen across the front to prevent embers from flying or logs from rolling out. A spark arrestor across the top of a chimney will prevent sparks from igniting your roof or your neighbors'. Combustible items, including extra firewood, should be kept at least three feet from the fireplace opening. If you use manmade logs in your fireplace, follow package directions carefully; don't attempt to break a log up. Never use gasoline, kerosene, or any other type of flammable liquid to start a fireplace fire.
The fireplace is no place to burn gift wrappings, trash, or other debris. Burning these items can create and release toxic fumes or cause excessive heat that can damage the fireplace. When clearing ashes from the fireplace, be sure to put them into a metal container with a lid—never into a cardboard box or paper bag. Otherwise, the embers are capable of smoldering for days with disastrous results.
The chimney should be cleaned by a qualified professional at least once a year—more if it's used extensively. Chimney sweeps can be found in the yellow pages.
Anytime we add any type of heat to our homes, the risk of uncontrolled fire increases. The Marshall Fire Department hopes you'll keep that in mind for enjoying warm, but safe, winter months.
CIGARETTES, CIGARS, AND MATCHES
Source: National Fire Protection Association
Children and Fire
Every year, hundreds of children die in home fires started by children who were using or playing with matches or lighters. If your child expresses curiosity about fire, or has been playing with matches or lighters, it's best to explain firmly that matches and lighters are tools for adults to use carefully. Find safe ways to let your child participate in your careful use of fire. Let them blow out candles or put charcoal on the grill before you light it. As children grow older they can learn how to use matches and lighters safely, but only under adult supervision.
Children and Matches/Lighters
Treat matches and lighters as you would a dangerous weapon. Store them up high, out of children's reach, preferably in a locked cabinet. Teach very young children that if they see matches or lighters they should not touch them, but should tell an adult about them and where they are. School-age children, on the other hand, should be taught to bring matches or lighters to an adult so they can be removed from younger children.
Every year, careless smoking starts about 35,000 home fires. Those fires cause more than 1,200 deaths and lead to hundreds of millions of dollars in property loss. Cigarettes can smolder under the cushions of a chair or sofa for several hours before igniting. That's long enough for the whole family to fall asleep before the fire shows itself. Before leaving a room where people have been smoking, check in and around furniture for hot embers, ashes, butts and matches.
To reduce the risk of cigarettes starting a fire, have plenty of large, deep ashtrays on hand and empty them often. Fill them with water before dumping cigarette butts into wastebaskets. A lit cigarette left in an ashtray is a fire hazard. It can ignite butts and matchsticks, and, as it burns down, it can easily roll out of the ashtray and cause a fire.
Smokers Need Watchers
Never smoke in bed or when you are drowsy. Keep an eye on any smoker who is taking medication that might cause drowsiness. Especially watch anyone who is smoking and drinking.