‘TIS THE SEASON TO CHECK YOUR HOME FOR FIRE DANGERS

‘TIS THE SEASON TO CHECK YOUR HOME FOR FIRE DANGERS

Every 15 seconds, a fire department responds to a fire somewhere in the United States. A residential fire occurs every 66 seconds. There is one civilian fire death every 118 minutes. There is one civilian fire injury every 18 minutes.
Doña Ana County Fire Marshal Adolf Zubia said one of the best ways to prevent fire is to do a holiday home inspection specifically looking for fire hazards. Zubia said the holidays provide a perfect opportunity for the whole family to inspect the home, one section at a time, and he suggested the following guidelines.
In the kitchen, all electrical appliances and tools should have a testing-agency label. Have the appliances repaired if they are not working correctly. If an appliance gets wet, have it serviced. In addition, check the cords on all appliances. If they are worn or frayed, have them repaired. Make sure appliance cords are kept on the counter to prevent them from being pulled down by young children. Be sure microwave vents are cleared of obstructions. All cleaning products and other chemicals should be stored out of the reach of young children (not under the sink). Cleaning products and other chemicals should be stored separately from foods. Do not store things over the stove, because people get burned while reaching. Remove any curtains or towel racks that are close to the stove, and check to see that the stove and oven are clean of grease and oil. Most importantly, make sure a fire extinguisher is placed in the kitchen. The Fire Marshal’s Office recommends a minimum 2A10BC extinguisher.
In the living areas of the home, be sure portable space heaters are at least three feet away from anything that can catch fire (including walls and curtains). If you have a fireplace, use a metal or glass fireplace screen, and have the chimney checked and cleaned regularly. Ashtrays should be large, deep and emptied frequently, but only when all signs of heat and burning are gone. Before going to bed, look under cushions for burning cigarettes and check carpeting where ashtrays have been used. Allow plenty of air space around the TV and stereo to prevent over-heating.
In the bathrooms, make sure no appliances are used near water, and make sure all medicines and cosmetics are kept out of the reach of small children. Install safety latches on drawers, cupboards and medicine cabinets if the home has small children, and dump old or outdated medicine into the toilet.
Bedroom smoke detectors should be tested regularly to be sure they are functioning correctly. There should be a working flashlight next to each bed. Plan (and practice!) two escapes from each bedroom in case of a fire. Make a house rule that no one will ever smoke in bed.
In the basement, garage and other storage areas, make sure gasoline and other flammables are kept in tightly sealed metal containers. Do not use or store flammable liquids near heat, pilot lights or while smoking. Have the home-heating equipment checked yearly. Keep work benches clean, and check the fusebox for correctly rated fuses in each slot. If a fuse blows, find the problem. Do not store things near the furnace or heater, especially newspaper or other rubbish. Newspapers stored in a damp, warm place may ignite spontaneously. Oily, greasy rags should be kept in labeled, sealed, non-glass containers, preferably metal. Keep all chemicals, paints, etc, in their original containers. Set your water heater at 130 degrees fahrenheit.
Throughout the house, check for worn or frayed extension cords or other electrical cords, and keep in mind that extension cords should never run under rugs and carpets or be looped over nails or other sharp objects that could cause them to fray.
For more information or to discuss other fire-safety issues, call the County Fire Marshal’s Office at (505) 647-7709.