Fire Safety Advice

A Guide to Protecting Yourself From Fire Hazards

Keep grills far away from anything that can burn — your home, cars, dry vegetation, etc.  The City of Wilmington requires that all grills in multi-family dwellings (more than three apartments) are kept more than 15-feet away from any combustible surface.  Supervise the grill when lighted, and keep children and pets well away from the area.  If lightning appears, stop grilling, seek shelter and wait for the storm to pass. When barbecuing, protect yourself by wearing a heavy apron and an oven mitt that fits high up over your forearm. If you get burned, run cool water over the burn for 10 to 15 minutes.  Never put butter or a salve on burns because these seal in heat and can damage the tissue further.  If you receive a serious burn (with charred skin, for example) seek medical attention promptly. Barbecue grills must never be used inside the home.  In addition to the fire hazard indoor grilling presents, it can easily cause carbon monoxide poisoning.  New Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) regulations now require cautionary measures, hazards and consequences of indoor grilling be on revised labels of all charcoal packaging sold in the U.S.

For charcoal grills, only use starter fluids designed for grills – NEVER USE GASOLINE.  Use a limited amount of starter fluid before lighting the fire.  If the fire is too slow, rekindle with dry kindling and add more charcoal if necessary, but NEVER ADD LIQUID FUEL to re-ignite or build up a fire, as flash fires can result. Soak the coals with water before you discard them.

For gas grills, always store the gas cylinder outside, away from structures and turn off the valves when not in use.  Check frequently for any leaks in connections by using a soap-and-water mix that will show bubbles where gas escapes.  When purchasing a gas grill, select one that has been tested and bears the mark of an independent testing laboratory.  Use the grill according to the manufacturer’s instructions and if needed, have it repaired by a trained professional.

Pyrotechnic devices (illegal in the State of Ohio), designed to burn and explode, are a leading cause of injuries in the U.S.  Fireworks used by amateurs cause thousands of injuries serious enough to require emergency room treatment every year.

Fireworks caused an estimated 9,200 injuries that required treatment in U.S. hospital emergency rooms in 2006, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.  Seven out of 10 of those injuries, approximately 6,400, occurred during the one-month period surrounding the Fourth of July. 

The damage isn’t limited to life and limb, either. In 2004, fireworks started an estimated 1,600 structure fires and 600 vehicle fires, according to the National Fire Protection Association, resulting in 20 injuries and $21 million in direct property damage.

All fireworks should be used only by trained professional pyrotechnicians.  Even sparklers, often considered safe, burn as hot as 1200 degrees Fahrenheit.  Leave any area where amateurs (adults included) are using these devices, and do not pick up or touch found fireworks.  Attend an outdoor public display put on by professionals, the safest way to enjoy fireworks.

Trim tree limbs so they don’t hang over your roof, and keep eaves and gutters free of leaves and other debris that burns easily. Clear weeds, brush and other flammable vegetation at least 30 feet away from your home, and store firewood away from all structures. 

Lawnmowers and Other Equipment
Store gasoline outside the home, preferably a locked, detached shed, and store just enough to power your gasoline-fueled equipment.  Keep gasoline up high, inside a clearly marked can that’s labeled and approved for gasoline storage.  Make sure gasoline and all flammable liquids are well away from any heat source or flame.

Use gasoline as a motor fuel only, never as a stain remover or for other purposes.  To transport gasoline in an automobile from the filling station, place a sealed, approved container in the trunk with the trunk lid propped open and drive directly to the fueling site.  Never store gasoline in a vehicle.

Don’t smoke when using gasoline or gasoline-powered equipment. When fueling, take the equipment outside and move it away from combustibles.  Wipe up any spills immediately and move the equipment at least 10 feet away from the fueling area to start the engine. Before re-fueling, turn off the equipment and let it cool completely.

Enjoying Your Pool
Liquid and solid chlorine-based oxidizers are commonly sold for home pool care as hydrogen chloride products. These chemicals can spontaneously combust if contaminated by organic materials (such as body fluids, acid rain, etc.) or hydrocarbon liquids such as fuel or motor oil. This type of fire will result in toxic fumes that can be extremely dangerous, and require resident evacuation. Store and use pool chemicals according to the manufacturer’s recommendations, and always store them outside the home, away from any heat source or flame.  Keep the containers in a dry place, well away from other items. If the container is punctured or otherwise damaged, properly dispose of the chemicals and replace.

For more information on proper storage of other hazardous chemicals or flammable and combustible products, contact your local pool supplier. 

Before fueling your boat, make sure to extinguish smoking materials and shut down all motors, fans and heating devices.  Be sure the fueling nozzle is grounded to the fuel intake and don’t fill to capacity, leave room for expansion.  Wipe up fuel spills immediately and check the bilge for fuel leakage and odors.  After fueling and before starting the motor, ventilate with the blower for at least four minutes.

Pitch your flame retardant tent well away from your campfire.  Only use flashlights or battery-powered lanterns inside the tent or any other closed space, as opposed to liquid-fueled heaters or lanterns.  In addition to the fire hazard posed by liquid-fueled devices, carbon monoxide poisoning can easily result in unvented spaces.

Build your campfire downwind, away from your tent, clearing away all dry vegetation and digging a pit surrounded by rocks.  Look for signs that warn of potential fire hazards in national forests and campgrounds, and always obey park service regulations. Pour water over or cover the fire with dirt before going to sleep or leaving the campsite. Store liquid fire starter, NEVER use gasoline, away from your tent and campfire and use only dry kindling to freshen a campfire, not liquid fuel.

By following these quick and simple steps, we can all keep our activities fun and fire-safe.