Thursday, July 7, 2016

Safety Alert: How to Avoid a Disaster in Your Home

photo of oily rags all piled togetherSpontaneous combustion happens more often than you think and results in major fire losses each year. Spontaneous combustion of oily rags occurs when rag or cloth is slowly heated to its ignition point through oxidation. A substance will begin to release heat as it oxidizes. If this heat has no way to escape, like in a pile of rags, the temperature will raise to a level high enough to ignite the oil and ignite the rag or cloth causing major fire damage and loss. One of the most common scenarios occurs when floors, fences or decking are being refinished and stain-soaked and oily rags are left in a pile on the floor, deck or garage.

Common Products:

• Linseed oil and other drying oils
• Wood Stain
• Alkyd Enamel Resins
• Motor Fuels
• Oil-based products such as primer, sealer, paint, White-Pigmented Shellac, paint thinner, turpentine, mineral spirits and denatured alcohol.

Prevention of spontaneous combustion fires begins with good housekeeping. A clean work area can prevent a fire from spreading and getting bigger by not allowing the fire fuel to burn. Also understanding the potential for self-heating of rags soiled with oils such as linseed oil and turpentine is a key step in eliminating these preventable fires. Be sure to educate contractors that may be working in your home and “DIY” friends and family members.  Always read and follow the safety precautions listed on the container of any solvent-based material.

Tips for Storing and Disposing of oil-soaked rags:

1. DO NOT ball up, pile, stack or fold any wiping cloth, rag, towel, drop cloth, steel wool or piece of work clothing that becomes moistened or wet due to contact with a solvent-based material.

2. DO NOT toss used rags into a trash can or plastic bucket or even consider putting them in the dryer!

3. DO store used rags in a metal container with water in it and a lid firmly on top away from the house.

4. SAFELY STORE any garage/workshop supplies. Paints and solvents should not be kept near heat generating equipment such as cars, furnaces or water heaters.

Please take a moment to view this informative report on the subject from NBC4.

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