Have a Happy and Safe Holiday Season
LET THE PARTIES GO ON…SAFELY!
By: Ed Knight, III CFEI/CFIIi
Retired Assistant Fire Marshal, City of Lancaster, PA • Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
It’s that time again, get-to-gathers, parties, dinners and so forth. Copious amounts of alcohol will flow and be consumed. Folks will drive while under the influence placing additional burdens on fire and emergency personnel. Please drink responsibly and see to it that participants at your parties do the same, the responsibilities are tremendous as are the consequences and liabilities.
Cooking; when making that award winning dinner be sure that you stay with it, watch it, and take all precautions to prevent a holiday ruining event like a kitchen fire. Remember, kitchen fires are the number ONE fires typically the result of UNATTENDED COOKING. Always have a lid(s) of comparable size of the pot or pan being used. In time of need (ignition of the cooking material) simply slide the lid over the pot or pan and turn-off the heat. In the event of an oven fire, keep the door closed and turn off the heat. Remember, stay in the kitchen at all times, if you must leave, turn the cooking OFF. Have an ABC fire extinguisher present in case of need.
Turkey fryers are a favorite method of cooking turkeys. Instructions state: be certain the turkey is thoroughly thawed, no ice. The fryer must be used outdoors. The turkey must be gently submerged into the preheated oil. Watch-over the process and be prepared in case of incident (ABC fire extinguisher). Turkey fryers sell from between $50.00-120.00.
Candles; Michael Faraday (1791-1867) a famous inventor and chemist, performed extensive investigations/evaluations on the “candle”. Widely used for holiday mood lighting as well as the dinner table setting, the candle is a dangerous device when used improperly or carelessly. Candle flames have been measured at a range of 1000 degrees C. This temperature converts to approximately 1832F. Ordinary combustibles can ignite at 450. Candles need to be watched, be aware of how many candles YOU light so YOU know how many candles to extinguish. Never leave candles unattended. Keep ALL matches, lighters and other ignition sources out of the reach of children and older persons.
Electrical extension cords, tap strips and other multiple plug-ins must be treated with respect. Be certain to use ONLY UL LISTED devices and appliances. Always un-wrap cords to prevent an induction coil which can degrade insulation and cause a fire. Do not overload electrical circuits; only use lights designed for outdoors.
Excellent gifts for the season: ABC fire extinguishers, 2.5 lbs or greater, with gauges, preferably with metal casings, so they can be recharged if needed. Smoke alarms and CO detectors with 10 year Lithium batteries are excellent gifts. Gift, 10 year Lithium batteries to replace existing batteries in smoke/CO alarms. And, if you have a water heater, a floor level water (leak) alarm is a great gift should the heater spring a leak.
Fireplace ashes (wood stove); dispose of these ashes into a metal can with a tight fitting metal lid placed OUT SIDE on a noncombustible surface. Always burn seasoned hard wood. Do not burn Christmas wrapping paper, and never burn trash or garbage in the fireplace, or wood stove. Some of these give off toxic vapors when burning and can flare-up.
For your “smoking friends”; if you permit smoking in the house, supply them with large ashtrays. After the party, allow the ashtrays to sit until later (morning) before emptying, then empty the butts into a metal can with a lid. ALWAYS check sofas and chairs for possible hot spots from dropped ashes.
Christmas trees and lights must not block means of egress (exits). People cause fires, Christmas trees don’t. Flame retardant artificial Christmas trees are the best. Freshly cut, live trees must watered daily and disposed properly immediately after the holiday.
Have a Happy and Safe Holiday Season
Ed Knight is a Certified Fire and Explosion Investigator (CFEI/CFII); a fire instructor (O&C 1033) member of KCFSI; a retired municipal assistant fire marshal, and forensic investigator. He is Chairman of the Pequea Lane Live Burn Facility, Pequea Lane (West Lampeter Twp), Lancaster, PA 17602.