Tag Archives: Fire Safety

  • California's Fire Season

    California's Fire Season

    During the few years I spent down in Orange County, CA, I didn’t so much miss the seasons, but I just had to get used to a different set of seasons. Fog season. High surf season. Ugg boots season. And fire season.

    If you’ve never lived through a summer-to-fall in Southern California, it’s hard to describe the brittle dryness of the air; the hot, dusty Santa Ana winds; the sinister orange tint of the sky; or the sharp burn in your throat as ash settles like cottonwood on cars and lawns. Wildfire season is unpleasant at best, and downright scary for those who live in the driest swaths. And California’s worst dry spell in recorded history is making that danger a reality for more and more residents.

    In mid-June, this report surfaced: “California Wildfire Threatens 1,000 More Homes Near Sequoia National Park.” While no injuries or fatalities were logged in relation to this fire, it swallowed three homes and was very hard to contain. Turns out the combination of heat, wind, and acres of brush sucked dry as tinder is exactly what a fire like this needed to grow to disastrous proportions.

    We’ve been watching California’s fires particularly closely this year. For a re-cap, check out our previous posts, “California Wildfires Spread Due to Drought Conditions,” and “Wildfires Plague Southern California.” And whether or not you live within blaze territory, it’s smart to know your wildfire safety. Here are some of our favorite resources:

    • FEMA’s US Fire Administration page has all sorts of free, downloadable materials on wildfire awareness and preparation.
    • We really like Ready.gov’s tip list for what to do before, during, and after a wildfire.
    • The Wildfire Preparedness page from the American Red Cross is organized similarly, and includes guidelines on rebuilding after fire damage.
    • Readyforwildfire.org has fantastic interactive information, video tutorials, links to action plan and emergency kit checklists, and a live Twitter feed from Cal Fire.
    • Everybody’s favorite furry forest ranger, Smokey the Bear, has a whole tab full of games and teaching tools for children and families at SmokeyBear.com/kids.

     

    What are you doing during the dry season to prepare?

    -Stacey

    Posted In: Uncategorized Tagged With: Preparedness In The News, fire season, wildfire, Fire Safety, Current Events

  • How to Prevent Electrical Fires and Burns in Your Home

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    Protect yourself and your loved ones from electrical shocks and burns

    Many of us have experienced the shocking jolt that comes from sticking a paperclip, fork, or other metal object into an exposed power outlet—I know I did when I was a kid, ‘cause it just seemed like a good idea.

    There are plenty of other ways to get electrocuted, however, than just sticking something into a power socket. And, unfortunately, kids (and sometimes adults) don’t often see the dangers that sit right in front of them.

    On average, electrocutions kill 400 people each year, and another 4,400 are injured due to electrical hazards. Needless to say, there’s more we could be doing to protect ourselves and loved ones from the harmful effects of electricity.

    How Electrical Shocks Happen

    Electricity always seeks a path to the ground. Electrical injuries occur when a person accidentally becomes a part of the pathway that gets the electricity to its destination. When this happens, a person is acting as a conductor—a material that attracts electricity and will allow it to flow quickly. Other conductors include metal, water, wet objects, and trees (because of their moisture). Materials used for insulation such as rubber, glass, plastic, and porcelain do not allow electricity to flow freely.

    As the use of electrical power grows, electrical hazards do, too. Electricity is almost in constant use, what with laptops, toasters, lamps, etc. staying plugged in when not in use. This, along with aging wiring systems put electrocutions and home fires at a higher risk. Fire hazards are also greater when surge suppressors, power strips, and extension cords are misused.

    Protect your Children

    When you know how to prevent electrical shocks and burns, you can more easily protect yourself and your loved ones. Check out the following tips from the American Burn Association:

    • Avoid letting children play with or near electrical appliances. Keep them a safe distance away from space heaters, irons, hair dryers, etc.
    • Use plug covers on any power outlets accessible to small children. Outlet caps that attach to the outlet plate with screws are better protectors than those that simply plug in.
    • Make sure plug in caps are a similar color to the outlet so they aren’t easily recognized and pulled out.
    • Make sure such caps are not small enough to be a choking hazard.
    • Make sure any night lights used in a child’s room do not resemble toys.
    • Teach children to respect electricity as soon as they are old enough (usually around age 3). Two thirds of electrical burn injuries happen to children 12 and under.

    Children aren’t the only ones at risk, though. Many adults also suffer injuries from electrical shocks each year, whether at home or at work.

    Other General Safety Tips

    • Unplug appliances by pulling on the plug, not the cord.
    • Only use appliances with a three-prong plug in a three-slot outlet. Never force it or remove a prong to make it fit a two-slot outlet. You can find outlet adapters, however, that allow you to use three-prong plugs in two-prong outlets.
    • Check your electrical tools regularly for signs of wear. If a cord is frayed or cracked, replace it. Replace any tool that causes even the smallest of shocks, or overheats, shorts out, or gives off smoke.
    • Never use electrical appliances near water
    • Unplug appliances before performing any repairs
    • Attach extension cords to appliances/tools before plugging them into outlets
    • Keep clothes, curtains, and other possibly flammable items at least 3 feet away from all heaters, whether electric, gas, or kerosene-fueled
    • If an electric power line is down on or near your home, keep everyone out of the area and call 9-1-1 or your local electric company.

    As a society, we depend on electricity. It works 24/7 to provide us with heat, to keep our security systems working, to keep our unpreserved food cold, and more. While you enjoy the positive results of electricity, don’t abuse or misuse it. Remember, it can have painful—even deadly—effects if you’re not careful.

    What do you do in your home to keep your loved ones safe from electrical shocks and burns? Have you ever experienced a major electric shock?

    --Kim

    Sources:

    http://ameriburn.org/Preven/ElectricalSafetyEducator'sGuide.pdf

    Posted In: Uncategorized Tagged With: Electrical Burns, National Burn Week, Fire Preparedness, Fire Safety, emergency preparedness, Survival, preparedness, safety

  • Keeping Warm—and Safe—with Portable Heaters

    Blizzards, ice storms, and high winds often cause power outages just when warmth and light are needed the most in our homes. If by chance you have a wood-burning stove or fireplace with a supply of dry firewood, you’re ahead of the game. However, if your home doesn’t have one, how do you keep warm when the utilities go out?

    Portable Heaters to the Rescue

    Most people turn to propane-powered space heaters. These can put out enough heat to warm an area large enough to fit your family during the power outage—even if that may result in a little more “togetherness” than your gang normally prefers! (Pretend you’re camping out.)

    When shopping for a space heater, look for safety features such as an automatic tip-over turn-off switch and a low-oxygen sensor. These features will shut off the heater if it tips over or shut off the propane if the oxygen level in the air dips too low. Remember that you need sufficient ventilation of fresh air in the room, even if it’s cold!

    Of course, you’ll need to keep a supply of propane bottles or tanks on hand to use with these heaters. Most of them will accommodate either 1-lb. or 20-lb. propane tanks and come with the appropriate adapters and connectors.

    Here at Emergency Essentials, we recommend the Mr. Heater brand. All three models include the above-mentioned safety features:

    1. Mr. Heater Big Buddy Combo (our price $160.95, which includes the heater, a fuel filter, and a five foot hose adapter. All you need is the propane, which you must buy in your area. This heater is certified by the CSA International (American Gas Association) for both indoor and outdoor use, and can heat up to 400 square feet for up to 220 hours on the low setting. It features an internal, battery-operated blower fan.
    2. Mr. Heater Portable Buddy (our price, $115.95) can heat up to 200 square feet and uses either the 1-lb. or 20-lb. propane tanks.
    3. Mr. Heater Little Buddy (our price, $63.95) can heat up to 100 square feet. Works with only a 1lb. propane tank.

    One customer told us that his family was without power for three weeks after Hurricane Sandy. When the nights turned frigid, their Mr. Buddy Heater was (literally!) a lifesaver.

    Portable Heater Safety

    Safety is always a concern with any portable heater. FEMA reports that an estimated 900 portable heater fires in residential buildings are reported each year, causing 70 deaths, 150 injuries, and $53 million in property loss. (Estimates from the Consumer Protection Agency are actually much higher.)

    January and February are the peak months for these fires, which are usually caused by the heater being placed too close to flammable items (bedding, drapes, clothing, tablecloths, rugs, sleeping bags, trash cans, stacks of papers or magazines, etc.).

    How can you keep from having a safety issue with your heater? FEMA has produced a 30-second video on heater safety; it’s definitely worth your time to watch it.

    Check out the safety features of a portable heater before you purchase it

     A Few Portable Heater Safety Tips:

    • Use the proper size heater for the area you need to heat. Expecting a small heater to warm a large area can result in the unit overheating. Using too large a heater in a small area can increase the amount of carbon monoxide in the air.
    • Keep the area sufficiently ventilated with fresh air.
    • Follow your heater’s instructions exactly.
    • Use appropriate connectors, hoses, etc. for your model.
    • Keep heaters at least three feet from anything that can burn.
    • Don’t leave your heater unattended.
    • Place heater on a hard, level, non-flammable surface (not on a rug or carpet).
    • Inspect your heater regularly for damage, and don’t use a defective unit.

    Have you ever had to rely on a propane-powered heater to heat your home, office, cabin, or another location? Have you ever experienced a time you wished you had one?

    Sources:

    Photo Courtesy of FEMA

    www.beprepared.com/essentialgear/warmth

    www.fema.gov

    www.sylvane.com/portable-heater-safety-tips

    Posted In: Uncategorized Tagged With: National Burn Week, Fire Preparedness, Fire Safety, emergency preparedness, Survival, preparedness, safety

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