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Sunday, February 21, 2010

Homes Must Have Carbon Monoxide Alarms

The New York State Office of Fire Prevention & Control (OFPC) is working to ensure homeowners are aware of the hazards of carbon monoxide and the new state law, known as Amanda’s Law, which, as of February 22, 2010, requires all residences, both new and existing, to have carbon monoxide alarms installed.

The law is named for Amanda Hansen, 16, of West Seneca, who was found unconscious at a friend's house in January 2009. Officials later determined she had been exposed to lethal levels of carbon monoxide in the home's basement, where she and her friend were having a sleepover. She later died at South Buffalo Mercy Hospital.

“Carbon monoxide alarms save lives,” said State Fire Administrator Floyd A. Madison, adding that carbon monoxide poisoning is the number one cause of poisoning deaths in the United States. “More than 2,100 people die from carbon monoxide poisoning every year and over than 10,000 people are injured, including, on average, 100 New Yorkers.”

Carbon monoxide can be produced when burning any fuel such as; gasoline, charcoal, propane, natural gas, kerosene, oil, wood, or coal. If any flammable or combustible material burns incompletely, carbon monoxide is produced. Carbon monoxide can kill in minutes or hours depending on the level of carbon monoxide in the air.

“We expect that the most frequently asked questions will be about the requirement for existing one and two family residences,” Deputy State Fire Administrator, John F. Mueller said. “Now these homes will be required to have one carbon monoxide alarm installed on the lowest story having a sleeping area.”

Homes built before Jan. 1, 2008, will be permitted to have battery-powered alarms, Mueller said, while homes built after that date will need to have the alarms hard-wired in. Additionally, Amanda's Law will require contractors in New York State to install a carbon monoxide alarm when replacing a fuel-fired hot water tank or furnace if the home is not equipped with an alarm.

Although specific requirements differ slightly for new and existing residences, the intent of the law is to help save lives from a silent, odorless and colorless killer.

“OFPC has been a staunch advocate for carbon monoxide detection,” Chief Paul D. Martin of the OFPC Bureau of Fire Prevention said. “With fire departments across the state responding to more than 40,000 CO emergencies each year, the early detection and alarm afforded by a carbon monoxide alarm is going to go far toward preventing tragic deaths like Amanda’s.”

OFPC is committed to increasing public awareness of carbon monoxide and the change in state law with a new Public Service Announcement developed through a public-private partnership with the Kidde Corporation.

Reference Link:

(The usual disclaimers: I am not a journalist; this is a blog that expresses an outlook and is not conclusive in any shape or manner.)

Friday, February 12, 2010

Space Heaters Cause Fatal Fires…

Space heaters involved in 79 percent of fatal home heating fires

NFPA urges caution as peak time for heating fires continues

While only 32 percent of home heating fires involve space heaters, they are involved in 79 percent of home heating fire deaths, according to the new report Home Fires Involving Heating Equipment released, February 11, 2010, by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA). Heating equipment continues to be the second leading cause of home fires behind cooking and the second leading cause of home fire deaths behind smoking.

NFPA is urging caution and asking the public to practice safe heating behaviors as the peak time for home heating fires continues; half of all home heating fires occurred in December, January and February in 2003-2007.

“Half of fatal home space heater fires started because something was too close to the heater and ignited. Keep heaters and things that can burn at least three feet apart,” said Lorraine Carli, NFPA’s vice president of communications. “Heating fires and the deaths they cause can usually be prevented with awareness and a few simple actions.”

The leading factor contributing to space heater fires in general was heating equipment too close to things that can burn, such as upholstered furniture, clothing, mattress, or bedding. Other leading factors contributing to home space heater fires were failure to clean, which is principally related to creosote build-up in chimneys, and leaving an operating space heater unattended.

“Whether your chimney supports a wood or coal stove or just a fireplace, be sure to have it cleaned and inspected at least once a year to reduce your risk of having a fire,” added Carli. “And always turn off a portable space heater when you go to sleep or leave the room.”

In 2007, U.S. fire departments responded to 66,400 home structure fires that involved heating equipment. These fires killed 580 people, injured another 1,850, and were responsible for $608 million in direct property damage.

NFPA offers the following safety tips.


* Have a three-foot “kid-free zone” around open fires and space heaters.

* Supervise children when a fireplace, fire pit, or other space heater is being used. Use a sturdy, metal screen to prevent contact burns, which are even more common than flame burns.

*All heaters need space. Keep things that can burn, such as paper, bedding or furniture, at least 3 feet away from heating equipment.
* Use heating equipment that has the label of a recognized testing laboratory.

* Never use your oven for heating.
* Install stationary space heating equipment, water heaters or central heating equipment, according to the local codes and manufacturer’s instructions.

- Have a qualified professional install the equipment.
- Make sure all fuel-burning vented equipment is vented to the outside to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning. CO is created when fuels burn incompletely. CO poisoning can cause illness and even death. Make sure the venting for exhaust is kept clear and unobstructed. This includes removal of snow and ice around the outlet to the outside.

* Install and maintain carbon monoxide alarms to avoid risk of carbon monoxide poisoning.

* Maintain heating equipment and chimneys by having them cleaned and inspected annually by a qualified professional.

Portable electric space heaters

* Turn heaters off when you go to bed or leave the room.

* Use and purchase portable space heaters with an automatic shut off so if they’re tipped over they will shut off.

* Place space heater on solid, flat surface.

* Plug power cords directly into outlets and never into an extension cord.

* Inspect for cracked or damaged, broken plugs or loose connections. Replace before using.

Fuel burning space heaters

* Always use the proper fuel as specified by the manufacturer.

* When refueling, allow the appliance to cool and refuel outside or in a well-ventilated area.
* When using the heater, open a window to ensure proper ventilation.

* In portable kerosene or other liquid-fueled space heaters, always use the proper grade of the proper fuel.

* All new unvented gas-fired space heaters have an oxygen depletion sensor that detects a reduced level of oxygen in the area where the heater is operating and shuts off the heater before a hazardous level of carbon monoxide accumulates. If you have an older heater without this feature, replace it.
* If the pilot light of your gas heater goes out, allow 5 minutes or more for the gas to go away before trying again, do not allow gas to accumulate, and light the match before you turn on the gas to the pilot to avoid risk of flashback.

* If you smell gas in your gas heater, do not attempt to light the appliance. Turn off all the controls and open doors and window. Call a gas service person.

Wood burning stoves

* Install the stove, chimney connectors and chimneys following manufacturer’s instructions or have a professional do the installation.

* Wood stoves should bear the label of a recognized testing laboratory.
* In wood stoves, burn only dry, seasoned wood. In pellet stoves, burn only dry, seasoned wood pellets.

* Start the fire with newspaper or kindling, never with a flammable liquid, such as lighter fluid, kerosene or gasoline.

* Keep the doors of your wood stove closed unless loading or stoking the live fire.
* Allow ashes to cool before disposing. Dispose of ashes in a tightly covered metal container and keep the ash container at least 10 feet away from the home and any other nearby buildings. Douse and saturate with water.

* Chimneys and vents need to be cleaned and inspected at least once a year.

NFPA has been a worldwide leader in providing fire, electrical, building, and life safety to the public since 1896. The mission of the international nonprofit organization is to reduce the worldwide burden of fire and other hazards on the quality of life by providing and advocating consensus codes and standards, research, training, and education.

(The usual disclaimers: I am not a journalist; this is a blog that expresses an outlook and is not conclusive in any shape or manner.)

Monday, February 8, 2010

Burn Awareness Week - February 7-13, 2010

I saw a Tweet a few days ago by @usfire on Twitter concerning "National Burn Awareness Week." Here's the twitter tweet . . .

@usfire : Burn Awareness Week is Feb 7-13. Educator's guide & presentations on scald injury available at

It caught my attention to where I asked myself, "What is it?" After checking the link that @usfire provided I did a re-tweet (RT) of it, because after checking the link it became apparent that this was very important, useful common sense safety information.

Here a compiled collection of information that's out there on the internet concerning burn awareness:

Burn Awareness Week 2010 is February 7-13 and is part of a national effort to cut down on burn injuries. This Annual Safety Prevention Campaign is sponsored by the Shriners Hospitals for Children. The 2010 Burn Awareness Week, celebrated early in the year, is an excellent opportunity to “kick off” a year full of burn awareness education. This year's campaign will focus on preventing scalds and gasoline-related burns. Scalds are the leading cause of burn injuries every year, especially to children under the age of 5 and to senior citizens. Shriners Hospitals report that children ages 10-14 are four times more likely than other age groups to get in trouble with gasoline, and that scald burns are the most common burn injury among children age 4 and younger.

Children have thinner skin than adults. They will sustain more severe burns at lower temperatures and in a shorter period of time. Exposure for just five seconds to water which is 60 degrees C (140 degrees F) can result in a full thickness or third degree burns, which would require hospitalization and skin grafts. (This is the temperature of the average home’s hot water as it comes from the tap).

Here is a YouTube video concerning the importance of testing the temperature of bathwater before putting children into the tub. . .

Cooling the burned area will lessen the severity of the injury if the procedure is performed immediately following the burn incident. Children need to know the correct procedure for cooling a burn injury.

Scald injuries occur from a variety of causes, including hot coffee or chocolate, grease, foods from the microwave and hot water. Adults are most often injured by hot grease or by their clothing catching on fire while cooking.

In the event of a burn, it is important to immediately take the following steps:

* Cool all burns with tepid to cool water, regardless of degree.

* Continue flushing the area for up to 10 minutes. Do not apply ice, ointments, butter or other "home remedies." Remove all clothing or garments to reduce the contact time with the hot items.

* Cover affected areas with a clean dry cloth, towel or blanket to protect the burn and minimize pain.

* Seek medical advice if there is sloughing of the skin. Seek urgent medical attention if the area of skin sloughing is larger than the victim’s palm size.

Burn Awareness Week 2010 is intended to make people, especially parents and child caregivers, aware of the dangers involved with the improper use and storage of gasoline, as well as the dangers involved with scalding-hot liquids. Children’s are curious, and sometimes mischievous, nature tends to put them at risk for burns.

Burns caused by ignited vapor from gasoline or scalding hot water can scar the victim for life and leave long-lasting physical pain.

There are several layers of tissue that have to go through a healing process if there is a burn injury. A burn is painful for a significant amount of time. When you suffer with a burn injury, you are stuck with that for life. Burns are the most disfiguring injury someone can suffer from.

In regards to gasoline safety, gas should be stored in approved containers in a ventilated area away from any heat sources. Plastic gas containers should not be filled while they are in the back of pickups with plastic bed liners, because the opposing plastic materials create static electricity that can ignite gas vapor.

Because gasoline is so commonly used to fuel our cars, boats, lawnmowers and other outdoor machinery, people often forget that gasoline is a dangerous tool and should be handled responsibly.

Here some PowerPoint presentation on burn prevention programs that were developed for community education and outreach initiatives:

Scald Injury Prevention

Gasoline Safety

Fire/Burn Safety for Older Adults

It doesn't hurt to remind people of this very important fire safety/prevention issue. Just as it's important to remind family members and co-workers to wipe their shoes when coming in from sloppy weather. That puddle of water that develops from un-wiped shoes becomes a slipping hazard. Knowing what to do beforehand can be critical when it comes to burn injuries.

It's simple and easy to do . . .


Referance Links:

(The usual disclaimers: I am not a journalist; this is a blog that expresses an outlook and is not conclusive in any shape or manner.)

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