USFA encourages safety as cold weather approaches Sandy-stricken areas

November 6, 2012

According to the NOAA National Weather Service, a coastal storm is expected to impact the mid-Atlantic and Northeast beginning after midnight Tuesday night and continue through Thursday night, with clearing expected by Friday.

Impacts to the effected regions include: strong gusty northerly winds of 20-30 mph with gusts of 40-45 mph, rain of 1 to 2.5 inches along the coast, with lesser amounts inland possible, light wintry precipitation is possible inland, and coastal flooding/beach erosion along the east coast including areas already ravaged by Sandy.

AccuWeather.com is predicting temperatures may even be cold enough for some wet snow to mix in as far south as Philadelphia and Wilmington, DE, for a time Wednesday into Wednesday evening. And reports today indicate the storm is veering a bit away from NJ coastlines, but they still may get some high winds and minor storm surges.

People in the affected area should monitor NOAA weather radio and local news reports for the latest storm conditions and take the necessary precautions to keep safe.

As the cold weather approaches and residents take measures to stay warm (esp. in areas dealing with the aftermath of Sandy), please remember to take safety precautions. The U.S. Fire Administration (USFA) recommends that in addition to having working smoke and CO alarms, all residents should follow these safety tips to prevent fires and CO poisoning during the recovery efforts from Hurricane Sandy:

Preventing Fires

  • Do not enter a building when the smell of natural gas is detected.  Leave the building immediately and contact the fire department.
  • Do not use the kitchen oven range to heat your home. In addition to being a fire hazard, it can be a source of toxic fumes.
  • Alternative heaters need their space. Keep anything that can burn at least 3 feet away.
  • Make sure your alternative heaters have ‘tip switches.’ These ‘tip switches’ are designed to automatically turn off the heater in the event they tip over.
  • Only use the type of fuel recommended by the manufacturer and follow suggested guidelines.
  • Never refill a space heater while it is operating or still hot.
  • Refuel heaters only outdoors.
  • Make sure wood stoves are properly operating, and at least 3 feet away from anything that can burn. Ensure they have the proper floor support and adequate ventilation.
  • Use a glass or metal screen in front of your fireplace to prevent sparks from igniting nearby carpets, furniture or other items that can burn.
  • Place space heaters on a floor that is flat and level. Do not put space heaters on rugs or carpets.  Keep the heater at least three feet from bedding, drapes, furniture and other items that can burn; and place space heaters out of the flow of foot traffic.  Keep children and pets away from space heaters.
  • To prevent the risk of fire, NEVER leave a space heater on when you go to sleep or place a space heater close to any sleeping person.  Turn the heater off when you leave the area.
  • Open the fireplace damper before lighting a fire, and keep it open until the ashes are cool. An open damper may help prevent build-up of poisonous gases inside the home.
  • Store fireplace ashes in a fire-resistant container, and cover the container with a lid.  Keep the container outdoors and away from combustibles. Dispose of ashes carefully, keeping them away from dry leaves, trash or other items that can burn.
  • Never bring gasoline into a building.

Preventing CO Poisoning

  • Schedule a yearly professional inspection of all fuel-burning home heating systems, including furnaces, boilers, fireplaces, wood stoves, water heaters, chimneys, flues and vents.
  • NEVER operate a portable gasoline-powered generator in an enclosed space, such as a garage, shed, or crawlspace, or in the home.
  • Keep portable generators as far away from your home and your neighbors’ homes as possible – away from open doors, windows or vents that could allow deadly carbon monoxide into the home.
  • When purchasing a space heater, ask the salesperson whether the heater has been safety-certified. A certified heater has a safety certification mark. These heaters have the most up-to-date safety features.  An unvented gas space heater that meets current safety standards will shut off if oxygen levels fall too low.
  • Do not use portable propane space heaters indoors or in any confined space, unless they are designed specifically for indoor use.  Always follow the manufacturer’s directions for proper use.
  • Never use gas or electric stoves to heat the home. They are not intended for that purpose and can pose a CO or fire hazard.

Find more fire safety tips on USFA site

Source: USFA

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