Thursday, April 8, 2010

Home Fires Can Start Outdoors!

With warm weather upon us, many people are taking an opportunity to enjoy various outdoor activities after a cold and snowy winter. Unfortunately, some of these outdoor activities can lead to serious fires in and around your home if you are not careful. Yesterday, Montgomery County experienced several fires that started outside but next to houses/buildings that placed people and property in danger. In the recent past the County experienced a fire in an Alzheimer care facility that was severely damaged by a fire started outside of the building by a cigarette!

To help people enjoy outdoor activities around your home in a safe manner, the women and men of Montgomery County Fire and Rescue ask that you please take a moment to review the below safety tips from some of our safety partners (listed below). Also take a moment to review the video above from our safety partners at the National Fire Protection Association on grilling safety.

Plants, Mulch, Potted Plants

 Clean – Remove all dead plant material from around your home; this includes dead leaves, dry grass and even stacked firewood

 Although mulch helps retain soil moisture, when dry, it can become flammable. Mulch as well as all landscaping should be kept well watered to prevent them from becoming fire fuel.

 Do not use old planter pots that contain potting soil as an ashtray. Many mixtures include different types of fertilizers that are oxidizers which will make a fire that does start, grow at an even faster rate.

 Keep an ashtray in areas where someone might be smoking around potted plants.

 If you have dead plants in pots in and around your home, discard them properly by throwing them out in the trash or spreading the soil from the pots in your yard or garden.

 Keep your potted plants well watered and maintained.

 If you keep potting soil in your garage or on your deck, do not leave it near any combustible material.

Barbeque Grills

 In 2003-2006, one-third (33%) of the home structure fires involving grills started on an exterior balcony or unenclosed porch, 18% started on a courtyard, terrace or patio, and 11% started on an exterior wall surface.

 The grill should be placed well away from the home, deck railings and out from under eaves and overhanging branches.

 Keep children and pets away from the grill area.

 Keep your grill clean by removing grease or fat buildup from the grills and in trays below the grill.

 Never leave your grill unattended when in use.

Propane grills

Check the gas tank hose for leaks before using it for the first time each year. Apply a light soap and water solution to the hose. A propane leak will release bubbles. If your grill has a gas leak, by smell or the soapy bubble test, and there is no flame, turn off the gas tank and grill. If the leak stops, get the grill serviced by a professional before using it again. If the leak does not stop, call the fire department. If you smell gas while cooking, immediately get away from the grill and call the fire department. Do not move the grill.

Charcoal grills

If you use a starter fluid, use only charcoal starter fluid. Never add charcoal fluid or any other flammable liquids to the fire. Always keep charcoal fluid out of the reach of children and away from heat sources. There are also electric charcoal starters, which do not use fire. Be sure to use a UL approved extension cord for outdoor use. When you are finished grilling, let the coals completely cool before disposing in a metal container.

Smoking materials

 Smoking materials (i.e., cigarettes, cigars, pipes, etc.) are the leading cause of fire deaths in the United States.

 If you smoke outside, use deep, wide ashtrays on a sturdy table or surface

 Before you throw out butts and ashes, make sure they are out, and dousing in water or sand is the best way to do that.

 Check under outdoor furniture cushions and in other places people smoke for cigarette butts that may have fallen out of sight.

 If you smoke, choose fire-safe cigarettes. They are less likely to cause fires.

 Keep matches and lighters up high, out of children's sight and reach.

Several tips gathered from the NFPA and USFA.

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