Monday, December 15, 2014

Holiday Fire Safety for Live Trees

Philadelphia Fire Commissioner Derrick J.V. Sawyer and the Philadelphia Fire Department's Fire Prevention Division offer fire safety tips for decorating a tree during the holidays.

Each year, during the Holiday Season, the Philadelphia Fire Department's Fire Prevention Division promotes fire safety to educate citizens on the proper care and maintenance of live trees.

Select a fresh tree:
  • Purchase a tree as close as possible to the holiday.
  • Test that the branches are pliable.
  • Make sure there is sap on the base of the tree where it was cut.
  • If the needles are falling off, choose another tree.
Proper Care and Maintenance of Live Trees:
  • Make a fresh 1-inch cut at the base of the tree.
  • Place tree firmly in the tree stand with plenty of room for water.
  • Check water level daily.
  • Check electrical cords for wear.
  • Never overload electrical outlets.
  • Never leave a lighted tree unattended.
  • Don't let the tree block exits or stairs.
  • Keep the tree away from portable heaters or any heat source.
  • Be sure the tree is free of ornaments and decorations before disposal or recycling.
  • Take the tree down as soon as the needles start to fall off.
  • Place the tree untied and free of decorations outdoors in a safe area until trash day.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Decorate Safely for the Holidays

Decorating homes and businesses is a long-standing tradition around the holiday season. Unfortunately, these same decorations may increase your chances of fire. Based on data from the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) and the U.S. Fire Administration (USFA), an estimated 150 home fires involving holiday lights and other decorative lighting occur each year.

The following are a few simple fire safety tips from the USFA to help ensure that you have a fire safe holiday season.

Holiday Lights
  • Maintain Your Holiday Lights: Inspect holiday lights each year for frayed wires, bare spots, gaps in the insulation, broken or cracked sockets, and excessive kinking or wear before putting them up. Use only lighting listed by an approved testing laboratory.
  • Do not overload electrical outlets. 
  • Do not link more than three light strands, unless the directions indicate it is safe. Connect strings of lights to an extension cord before plugging the cord into the outlet. Make sure to periodically check the wires – they should not be warm to the touch.
  • Do not leave holiday lights on unattended.

Holiday Decorations
  • Use Only Nonflammable Decorations: All decorations should be nonflammable or flame-retardant and placed away from heat vents. If you are using a metallic or artificial tree, make sure it is flame retardant.
  • Don't Block Exits: Ensure that trees and other holiday decorations do not block an exit way. In the event of a fire, time is of the essence. A blocked entry/exit way puts you and your family at risk.

Wrapping Paper
  • Never Put Wrapping Paper in the Fireplace: Wrapping paper in the fireplace can result in a very large fire, throwing off dangerous sparks and embers that may result in a chimney fire.

Candle Care
  • Avoid Using Lit Candles. Consider using battery-operated candles.
  • If you do use lit candles, make sure they are in stable holders and place them where they cannot be easily knocked down. Never leave the house with candles burning. 
  • Never Put Lit Candles on a Tree.
  • Do not go near a Christmas tree with an open flame – candles, lighters or matches.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Winter Supplies for Your Car Emergency Kit

It's important to keep an emergency kit in your vehicle whenever you are driving. As the winter approaches, make sure you have the following essentials:
  • Flashlight and extra batteries. 
  • Battery-operated or wind-up radio.
  • Jumper cables. 
  • Emergency flares. 
  • Tow chains or tow rope. 
  • Cell phone and charger. 
  • First-aid kit. 
When driving in the winter, add a few more emergency supplies in case you get stranded in the ice and snow. These items include:
  • Warm clothing, hats and mittens. 
  • Blankets.
  • Ice scraper.
  • Snow shovel. 
  • Road salt or sand. 
  • Snacks (granola bars or energy bars).
  • Bottled water.
  • Any special needs, such as medication, baby supplies, pet food.

For additional information on preparing for the winter, visit the Philadelphia Office of Emergency Management's Winter Preparedness page. You can also download the Winter Driving Guide from the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT).

Monday, November 24, 2014

Thanksgiving Fire Safety

According to the U.S. Fire Administration, cooking equipment is the leading cause of home fires in the United States. There is an increased incidence of cooking fires on Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, and Christmas Day. Follow these tips to stay safe while cooking this holiday season:
  • Stay in the kitchen when you are frying, grilling, or broiling food. If you leave the kitchen for even a short period of time, turn off the stove. 
  • If you are simmering, baking, roasting, or boiling food, check it regularly, remain in the home while food is cooking, and use a timer to remind you that you're cooking. 
  • Stay alert! To prevent cooking fires, you have to be alert. You won't be if you are sleepy, have been drinking alcohol, or have taken medicine that makes you drowsy. 
  • Keep anything that can catch fire - potholders, oven mitts, wooden utensils, paper or plastic bags, food packaging, towels, or curtains - away from your stovetop. 
  • Keep the stovetop, burners, and oven clean. 
  • Wear short, close-fitting or tightly rolled sleeves when cooking. Loose clothing can dangle onto stove burners and catch fire. 
  • Keep children and pets away from cooking areas

If You Have a Cooking Fire

  • When in doubt, just get out. When you leave, close the door behind you to help contain the fire. Call 9-1-1 after you leave. 
  • Always keep an oven mitt and a lid nearby when you are cooking. If a small grease fire starts in a pan, smother the flames by carefully sliding the lid over the pan (make sure you are wearing the oven mitt). Turn off the burner. Do not move the pan. To keep the fire from restarting, leave the lid on until the pan is completely cool.
  • Never use water to extinguish a cooking fire. It may cause the fire to spread. 
  • In case of an oven fire, turn off the heat and keep the door closed to prevent flames from burning you or your clothing. 
  • If you have a fire in your microwave oven, turn it off immediately and keep the door closed. Never open the door until the fire is completely out. Unplug the appliance if you can safely reach the outlet. 
  • After a fire, both ovens and microwaves should be checked and/or serviced before being used again.

Turkey Fryer Safety Tips

  • Use turkey fryers outdoors a safe distance from buildings and any other combustible materials. 
  • Never use turkey fryers in a garage or on a wooden deck. 
  • Make sure fryers are used on a flat surface to reduce accidental tipping. 
  • Never leave the fryer unattended. Most units do not have thermostat controls. If you do not watch the fryer carefully, the oil will continue to heat until it catches fire. 
  • Never let children or pets near the fryer even if it is not in use. The oil inside the cooking pot can remain dangerously hot hours after use. 
  • To avoid oil spillover, do not overfill the fryer. 
  • Use well-insulated potholders or oven mitts when touching pot or lid handles. If possible, wear safety goggles to protect your eyes from oil splatter. 
  • Make sure the turkey is completely thawed and be careful with marinades. Oil and water do not mix; water causes oil to spill over causing a fire or even an explosion hazard. 
  • The National Turkey Federation recommends thawing the turkey in the refrigerator approximately 24 hours for every five pounds in weight. 
  • Keep an all-purpose fire extinguisher nearby. Never use water to extinguish a grease fire. If the fire is manageable, use your all-purpose fire extinguisher. If the fire increases, immediately call 9-1-1 for help.