SAFETY TIPS FOR THE HOME
- Avoid loose long sleeves when cooking.
- Check kettles and toasters for damaged electrical cords and thermostats.
- Use appliances that have an automatic shut-off.
- Keep a timer handy to remind you when the oven and burners should be switched off.
- If you take medication that causes drowsiness, do not use cooking appliances.
- Use a temperature-controlled electric skillet or deep-fryer for frying.
- Never leave your cooking unattended.
- Use appropriate cooking appliances and keep them clean.
- Keep a pot cover nearby to “put a lid on it” in the event of a fire.
- Fireplace: always use a fire screen, ensuring it is the appropriate size for the fireplace opening.
- Do not overload electrical outlets or use extension cords in the place of additional outlets.
- Smokers should check furniture for fallen cigarettes or embers, which can smoulder undetected for hours before bursting into flames.
- Ensure careful use of smoking materials and extinguish in water before disposal.
- Never leave cigarettes in an ashtray unattended.
- Use ashtrays with a double rim and deep centre.
- Keep matches, lighters and lit candles out of the reach of children.
- Never leave lit candles unattended.
- Install at least one smoke alarm outside each sleeping area. For improved safety, install a smoke alarm in every bedroom.
- Check electrical appliances regularly: electric blankets, heating pads, curling irons, radios, televisions, irons.
- Bedrooms should be non-smoking areas.
- Remove all combustible and flammable materials from the basement and attic.
- Store gasoline in well-ventilated areas.
- Do not store propane indoors.
- Use only approved containers to store and transport gasoline.
- Have a thorough yearly maintenance check of the furnace carried out by a professional.
- When replacing an old furnace, consult a professional to determine the most safe, economical and efficient system for your home.
- Chimneys should be cleaned at least once a year.
- Flammable materials – thinners, gasoline, paints, industrial cleaners – should be stored neatly in approved containers and away from possible ignitable sources.
- Do not smoke, or leave matches or lighters in the garage or workshop.
- Install and know how to properly use the appropriate fire extinguisher for the garage/workshop.
- Keep the area clean. Remove garbage, paper products, oily rags and wood shavings regularly.
Kitchen fires due to cooking oil or grease igniting into flames cause the fastest-spreading and most destructive type of residential fire. When cooking with grease or oil, it is extremely important that you plan ahead so that you will know how to react fast to fire. Here are some tips:
- The safest way to deep fry foods such as chicken or fries is to use a thermostatically-controlled electric skillet or a deep fat fryer.
- Keep a pan lid or cookie sheet handy in case grease or oil catches fire. The lid or cookie sheet should be slid over the top of the pan to smother the fire.
- Never attempt to move a flaming pot or pan away from the stove. The movement can fan the flames and so spread the fire. The pan will also likely be very hot, causing you to drop it. In either case, you are placing yourself at great risk. Your immediate action should be to smother the fire by sliding a lid or flat cookie sheet over the pan. Afterwards, turn off the heat and exhaust the fan, allowing the pan time to cool. Most importantly, react fast, because grease fires spread very quickly.
- Keep your oven clean. Grease and food splatters can ignite at high temperatures.
- Ensure that you wear oven mitts when removing cooking containers to avoid serious burns.
- Follow the cooking instructions for the recipe and the product you are using.
- Broiling is a popular method of cooking. When you use your broiler, place the rack 5 to 8 cm (two to three inches) from the broiler element. Always place a drip pan beneath the broiler rack to catch the fat drippings. Never use aluminum foil for this purpose because the fat accumulated on the foil could catch fire or spill over.
Microwave ovens are a marvellous time-saving tool, but there are three characteristics of microwave cooking you should be cognisant of:
- The heat is reflected by the metal interior.
- Heat can pass through glass, plastic and other materials.
- Heat is absorbed by the food.
Foods, like those in high-fat or sugar, can heat very rapidly but feel cool to the touch. Pastry fillings can be very hot, but the crust cooler. Milk in baby bottles could be boiling, but the bottle itself not very hot to the touch. Use caution at all times.
Do not use tin foil or any other metal objects in the microwave. If a fire occurs, keep the door closed and unplug the unit. Call a qualified maintenance technician to ensure the microwave is in proper working order before using it again.
- Read and follow the manufacturer’s instructions carefully.
- For best performance, an alarm should be mounted on the ceiling in or near the centre of the room, hall or stairway, and at the head of each stairway leading to an occupied area.
- Optimum location for wall mounts is at least 15 cm (6 inches) from the ceiling but not more than 30 cm (19 inches) from it.
- Avoid installing where the temperature is less than 5oC (41oF) or exceeds 48oC (119oF).
- Keep alarms away from doors and windows.
- Never locate an alarm in front of an air register, fans or vents.
- Keep alarms at least 60 cm (2 feet) from any corner.
- Don’t recess an alarm.
- Smoke alarms in rooms with ceiling slopes greater than 30 cm (one foot) rise per 2.4 m (eight feet) horizontally should be located on the high side of the room.
- Avoid locating an alarm at the peak of an “A” frame type ceiling.
- Never paint a smoke alarm.
- Keep alarms 60 to 90 cm (two to three feet) away from light fixtures.
When having an alarm connected into the electrical wiring system of a house you should:
- Use a qualified electrical contractor.
- Never install the alarm in the electrical circuit except at the main panel. Alarms must also never be installed in a circuit connected to an on/off switch.
- Check the alarm when installation is complete.
Test your smoke alarm monthly and clean it every 6 months. Mark it on your calendar so that you don’t forget. Things to remember when testing your smoke alarm:
- Ensure that power is being transmitted to the alarm and that it will activate in the presence of smoke.
- Test your smoke alarm by pressing the test button.
- Even alarms with a pilot light that indicate power is being transmitted, should be tested regularly.
- Battery-operated smoke alarms will warn you when batteries need replacing. Despite this, make it a habit to change the batteries yearly.
- When you’ve been away from home for a few days, check your alarm on your return to ensure it is working properly.
- Remember, your smoke alarm can’t protect you if the batteries have been removed or a plug has been disconnected.
- The lifespan of a typical smoke alarm is about 10 years, but some models last as little as 5 years.
- To clean the alarm, open the cover and gently vacuum the interior of it. Frequently, the alarm will sound while the unit is being cleaned.
Read the instructions on your extinguisher for proper use.
Create a picture in your mind that will reflect the instructions on the extinguisher: if there’s a fire, get everyone outside and ask a member of your family to call the fire department from a neighbour’s house. Only then should you permit yourself to fight a small fire. If the fire becomes large, get out. Close doors behind you to slow the spread of the fire.
A fire extinguisher is a storage container for an agent like water or chemicals. It is designed to put out a small fire, not a large one. Extinguishers are labelled ABC or D. Ensure you use the right extinguisher for the appropriate type of fire.
- Ordinary Combustibles – Fires started with paper, wood, drapes and upholstery require a Class A type extinguisher.
- Flammable and Combustible Liquids – Fires originating from fuel oil, gasoline, paint, grease in a frying pan, solvents and other flammable liquids require a Class B type extinguisher.
- Electrical Equipment – Fires started with wiring, overheated fuse boxes, conductors, and other electrical sources require a Class C type extinguisher.
- Metals – Certain metals such as magnesium and sodium require a special dry powder Class D type extinguisher.
A multi-purpose dry chemical labelled ABC puts out most types of fires: wood, paper, cloth, flammable liquids and electrical fires. If you intend to buy more than one, you may want to purchase a BC for the kitchen, an A for the living room and an ABC for the basement and garage.
- Extinguishers come in a dry chemical, foam, carbon dioxide, water, or Halon form. Whatever type you buy, it should be labelled by a nationally recognized testing laboratory.
- The higher the number rating on the extinguisher, the more fire it puts out. High rated extinguishers are often (not always) the heavier models. Ensure you can hold and operate the one you buy comfortably.
- Ask your dealer how to have your extinguisher serviced and inspected. Recharge it after ANY use. A partially used extinguisher might as well be empty.
- Extinguishers should be installed near an escape route and away from potential fire hazards.
- Pull the pin. Some units require the releasing of a lock latch, pressing a puncture lever, inversion or other motion.
- Aim the extinguisher nozzle (horn) at the base of the fire.
- Squeeze or press the handle.
- Sweep from side-to-side at the base of the fire and discharge the contents of the extinguisher.
Foam and water extinguishers require slightly different use. Read the instructions.