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Fire Prevention Tips

The easiest way to stop fires is to prevent them from ever taking place. Below, you will find a month-by-month guide for helping you avoid dangerous fire situations. If you have questions about fire prevention or would like to learn more, call our Fire Prevention Bureau at (330) 489-3400.

Seasonal Fire Safety Tips (Click to Jump):

January | February | March | April
May | June | July
| August | September
October | November | December

January - Proper Use of Wood Stoves

The use of wood stoves has significantly increased in recent years. Unfortunately, wood stove and chimney fires have also increased. Wood stoves require extra care in installing, operating, and maintaining as compared to conventional heat sources. Use the following steps when deciding to purchase, install, and use a wood burning stove in your home.

  • Purchase only wood stoves that have been listed by a recognized testing agency such as Underwriters Lab. (UL).

  • Contact your appropriate building official to ascertain whether a building permit is required for wood stove installation.

  • Have the wood stove installed by a professional. Then have the completed installation inspected.

Once installed:

  • Keep all flammable material at least 3 feet from the wood stove.

  • Purchase a screen to place around the wood stove to prevent children and pets from being accidentally burned. Never leave children unattended in the room with the wood stove while a fire is burning.

  • Burn only dry, well-seasoned wood.

  • Never use a flammable liquid to start or revive a fire in a wood stove. Many deaths have occurred by ignoring this one safety warning.

  • Never use your stove to burn trash.

  • Creosote is the product of incomplete combustion and creosote build-up can cause a chimney fire. Opening the air inlets or the stove door and allowing the wood to burn freely for 10-15 minutes several times a week will reduce creosote build-up.

Know the signs of a chimney fire...a loud roar, sucking sounds and shaking pipes. Make sure everyone knows what to do. Practice fire drills and learn how to use a fire extinguisher. If you think you have a chimney fire, call the fire department immediately. Cut off the fire's air supply by closing any intake vents in the firebox. Close the damper. Get everyone out of the house.

Dispose of ashes by placing them in metal containers. Do not put in paper bags or cardboard boxes. Ashes can retain enough heat to start a fire for several days. Wet ashes to make sure they are cold.

For additional installation tips and safety procedures, call the Canton Fire Prevention Bureau at phone (330) 489-3400.

February - Six Steps For Survival

Many home fires happen at night, between 11 P.M. and 6 A.M., while most of us are sleeping.

Make sure your family can protect itself by knowing these six steps:

  1. Smoke detectors should be installed on each level of your home and outside sleeping areas. If you sleep with the bedroom door closed, install a detector in the bedroom. Smoke detectors sound an early warning while escape is still possible. Test detectors monthly and replace batteries annually.

  2. Have a home fire escape plan. Draw out your home on paper and mark at least two exits from each room. Make plans for family members that may need assistance, the very young or old. If exists include windows, make sure they can be easily opened and if they're high, have escape ladders available. Designate a place for everyone to meet once they get outside.

  3. Practice your plan. Have one practice with family members using their primary exit and another where the secondary way out is used. If necessary, make changes. Fire drills aren't just for school.

  4. If possible, sleep with bedroom doors closed. In the event of a home fire they can hold back smoke and fire, increasing your time for escape.

  5. When awakened by your smoke detector, roll out of bed and crawl to your bedroom door. Test the door with the back of your hand, for heat. Feel it high, low and touch the knob. If the door is hot, DO NOT open it, and use your secondary exit to escape. If it is cool, open it carefully and be ready to slam it shut if there is smoke or fire.

  6. Go to your designated meeting place. Have someone go to a neighbor's to call the fire department. Once you're outside, you should never go back into a burning building.

March - Careless Smoking Habits = FIRE

One of the most common causes of deaths in home fires is careless smoking. It has been estimated that 35% of all home fire deaths (about 1,500 a year) and 17% of all home fire injuries are caused by cigarette fires.

Over $300 million in property is lost in these fires. Careless smoking is the #1 cause of fires in America. The Canton Fire Prevention Bureau recommends that precautions be taken to avoid a cigarette fire.

  • Provide large, deep ashtrays for smokers.

  • Do not place ashtrays on the arms of furniture.

  • Most cigarette fires involve dropping a hot cigarette on beds or upholstered furniture or clothing. A lit cigarette can smolder for 20-30 minutes before igniting anything. Check furniture before going to bed. Never smoke in bed or while reclining in upholstered furniture.

  • Make sure ashes are completely cold before emptying them. Try wetting ashtray contents before throwing them in the trash.

  • Install extra smoke detectors in smokers' bedrooms and other areas they spend time in.

April - Smoke Detectors: A Sound for Life

If there were to be a fire in your home tonight, would your family survive?

With properly placed and maintained smoke detectors you increase your chances of survival by 50%. In fact, many communities have regulations requiring that at least one smoke detector be installed in homes.

Most residential fire deaths occur between 11 P.M. and 7 A.M. This is the time of greatest danger, when people are asleep. The primary killer is smoke and poisonous gases which overcome victims as they sleep. From the time a fire breaks out there is a limited amount of time that a person has to escape. With the early warning of a smoke detector, you can be awakened during the early stages of a fire while escape is still possible.

When purchasing smoke detectors for your home be sure they are labeled by a nationally recognized fire testing laboratory, such as Underwriters Laboratories (UL) or Factory Mutual (FM).

For minimum protection, smoke detectors should be installed outside of each bedroom or sleeping area. It is also suggested that at least one should be placed on the other levels of your home for additional protection. Placement of your smoke detector is important. Because smoke rises, the detector should be mounted on the ceiling or high on a wall. If wall mounted, the top of the detector should be 4 to 12 inches from the ceiling. A ceiling mounted detector should be at least 4 inches from any wall. Take care to keep the detector away from drafts created by fans or air ducts. Also, if a hallway leading to bedrooms is more than 40-feet long, a detector should be placed at both ends.

Once you've installed your smoke detectors, their maintenance is very important. Your detector should be tested a minimum of once a month by pressing the test button or using smoke. Replace the batteries according to the manufacturer's recommendation, or a least once a year, using the type of batteries recommended. Because dust and cobwebs can impair the sensitivity of the detector, follow the manufacturer's directions for cleaning.

Properly installed and maintained smoke detectors can provide you and your family with the necessary early warning to escape a home fire.

May - Spring Cleaning

When it's time for spring cleaning, remember a clean house is a safe house. The Canton Fire Prevention Bureau reminds you that trash, boxes, piles of clothes and other combustibles in the home are fuel for a fire. Getting rid of them will help reduce the chance of fire in your home.

When storing heating devices to be used again next winter, make sure electric cords are not frayed or separating. Remember to remove kerosene before storing your kerosene heater. Often overlooked is the electric blanket. Follow the washing, care and storage instructions that come with the blanket.

Clean out storage areas such as garages, attics, closets, sheds, and basements on a regular basis. Even warehouses are limited to the amount of storage they can safely keep. Don't allow areas in your home to become tempting fuel for a fire. Throw away or give away items you are no longer using. Clutter gives fire a place to start and creates obstacles that might prevent escaping safely.

Oily rags can ignite without a heat source because they produce their own heat. Throw them out or store them in a closed metal container. This includes dusting rags used with a furniture polish or spray.

June - Outdoor Cooking

Everybody loves an outdoor barbecue. However, outdoor cooking can also lead to tragedy when carelessness causes serious burns. The Canton Fire Prevention Bureau offers the following safety checklist to use when cooking outdoors.

  • When lighting a grill, the safest fire starters are chemicals in cake form or a charcoal electric starter.

  • Never add fire starter after you have started your barbecue. The heat from the coals could ignite the stream of liquid and burn back to the can, causing it to explode in your hands. To speed a slow fire, tuck dry kindling under the charcoal.

  • Make sure the barbecue grill is level and steady and keep a container of water nearby.

  • After cooking, soak the coals in water. Dispose of charcoal in a metal container with a tight fitting lid. Many brush fires start because hot coals, thought to be cool, were dumped in leaves.

  • All barbecue grills should never be brought inside the house, tent, or recreational vehicle, because of the danger of carbon monoxide poisoning in sealed or confined areas.

  • Keep small children away from the barbecue.

  • A bag of damp or wet charcoal should be immediately disposed of, as it can spontaneously combust.

July - Fireworks Are Dangerous

The National Fire Protection Association reports an average of 10,000 hospital-treated fireworks injuries have occurred in the U.S. over the last several years.

Most fireworks injuries occur around the 4th of July celebration, but are not limited to that holiday. Many other holidays, Christmas, New Year's, Labor Day, etc. have fireworks as part of their celebration.

How can you use fireworks safely? There are no safe ways. Leave the use of fireworks to the professionals, people who are trained in their proper use. In many areas fireworks are illegal. For the safety of you, your family and friends, obey the law.

The Canton Fire Prevention Bureau reminds you that fireworks are explosives that are unpredictable and can be deadly. The use of Class "C" Fireworks in the state of Ohio are illegal. Leave their use to the professionals.

August - In a Fire, Seconds Count

"It started out as a small fire. I was too embarrassed to call the fire department."

Each year many fires that start out small end up causing hundreds of thousands of dollars in damages because someone was afraid or too embarrassed to call the fire department. During the early stages of a fire, your actions play a crucial role in the safety of your family and the amount of damage that occurs.

Upon discovering a fire, you should sound an alarm, let the people in the area know that there's the potential for danger and that they should evacuate. Call the fire department, even if the fire is small. For every minute a fire burns it doubles in size. Small fires can grow quickly. Only after the first two steps have been completed, should you try to extinguish small fires.

The Canton Fire Prevention Bureau is here to help you! Don't be afraid to call if we can help in any way, because, in a fire, seconds count.

September - Clean Sweep

Imagine a cold winter night, you're in your living room, all cozy and warm by your fireplace, when all of a sudden it sounds as if a freight train is coming down the chimney. You are experiencing a chimney fire!

Each year thousand of homes experience this due to improper maintenance of their chimney. These fires can be prevented by making sure your flue is lined and in good repair, by having it inspected and cleaned regularly by a professional and by learning how to build fires that reduce the build-up of creosote.

The cause of most chimney fires is creosote which is a by-product resulting from the incomplete combustion of wood. It accumulates on the sides of your chimney and stovepipe as a liquid and later condenses into a solid. As it builds up it not only blocks the flue, but can ignite into a roaring fire.

It is recommended that you have your chimney professionally cleaned and inspected at least once a year. If you use your fireplace or wood stove as a primary source of heat for your home, you should consider a cleaning and inspection at the beginning and end of each heating season. To select a chimney sweep, don't just base your decision on cost. Ask if they are certified by the National Chimney Sweep Guild or a trade school. Are they active in a state or local guild? How did they learn their craft? Ask for references.

A professional chimney sweep will do more than brush out your chimney. They inspect your chimney for damage to liners, cracks due to settling, improper installation of prefabricated chimneys and much more.

You can cut down on the build-up of creosote by using your fireplace or wood stove properly. Burn it hot; the hotter the fire, the more complete the combustion. Burn hard woods, i.e., hickory, ash, or maple, that have been seasoned for at least one year. Take care not to burn construction scraps, treated woods, wrapping paper or boughs from evergreens.

If you've never had your chimney cleaned and inspected or it's been a while, the Canton Fire Prevention Bureau encourages you to take these precautions to prevent a chimney fire in your home.

October - National Fire Prevention Week

Fire Prevention Week commemorates one of the worst fires in American history - the 1871 Great Chicago Fire. On October 9th, 250 people died and over 17,000 buildings were destroyed in a fire where the property damage was estimated at $169 million dollars. The Fire Marshal's Association established Fire Prevention Day in 1911 to publicize the fire problem. In 1922, President Harding proclaimed National Fire Prevention Week and since that time the National Fire Protection Association has been the official sponsor of Prevention Week activities throughout the nation.

However, The Canton Fire Prevention Bureau wants you to remember that fire safety should be practiced every day, and offers the following suggestions:

  • Install and maintain smoke detectors on every level of your home.

  • Have a home fire escape plan and practice it with your family.

  • Keep matches and lighters out of the hands of children.

  • Have home heating systems and chimneys inspected by a professional.

  • Store flammable liquids in safety cans and outside the house.

November - Conventional Heater Safety

So much has been said lately about the advantages and disadvantages of alternative heating sources such as kerosene heaters and wood stoves that the Canton Fire Prevention Bureau would like to remind you of safety procedures to insure that your standard home heating system is properly maintained.

  • Have a professional check and service your heating system every fall. They will look for possible worn out parts, frayed wiring, and blocked heating ducts.

  • Keep flammable material away from heat vents. Teach children not to touch these vents as some vents can become very warm while the heating system is in use.

  • Electric space heaters should be used only under adult supervision.

  • When purchasing an electric space heater, look for a seal from a nationally recognized testing agency, such as Underwriters laboratory (UL).

  • Make sure that the electric cord is in good condition, not frayed.

  • Regular household extension cords should not be used with an electric heater. The heaters draw too much electricity and will overload the cord.

  • Never put a portable electric heater in a child's bedroom. In an attempt to get warm quickly, they may pull the heater too close to the bed, which could ignite the blankets on the bed.

December - Holiday Fire Safety

We think of the holidays as happy times, a chance to celebrate with family and friends. The Canton Fire Prevention Bureau wants to wish you and your family a Safe and Happy Holiday Season, and offers the following suggestions to keep your holiday safe:

  • When purchasing a live tree look for signs of freshness. A fresh tree is green. Needles will be hard to pull from branches when bent between your fingers. Fresh needles don't break if bounced on the ground, and a minimum number of needles should fall off.

  • To keep your tree fresh, cut off about two inches of the trunk to expose fresh wood for better absorption of water, keep stored outside the house till you're ready to decorate and keep the stand filled with water.

  • When placing your tree, make sure it is kept away from sources of heat, like fireplaces or heat vents, and out of the way of traffic.

  • Check out your lights before placing them on the tree. Look for worn or frayed wires and broken bulbs. Make sure you do not overload extension cords.

  • Take care when using candles. Keep them away from flammable decorations. Place them where they cannot be knocked over or reached by children. Do not leave lit candles in an unattended room.

  • Make sure your smoke detectors are working properly. If you'll traveling to visit family and not sure if they have smoke detectors, take one with you.

If you have questions about any of the points listed above, or would like to learn more about fire prevention, please call the Fire Prevention Bureau at (330) 489-4300.

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