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Protecting Your Home From Smoke, Gas, And Fire

Carbon Monoxide Poisoning and Carbon Monoxide Alarms continued...

Symptoms of CO poisoning are sometimes confused with flu symptoms, food poisoning, or some other illness. They include shortness of breath, light headedness, nausea, headaches, and loss of consciousness. High concentrations of CO can cause death within minutes.

To protect yourself and your family against CO poisoning, you can purchase carbon monoxide alarms to place in central locations outside sleeping areas and on each level of the home. It’s important to follow the manufacturer’s instructions for installing them. Like smoke alarms, they should be tested every month to make sure they are still working. When you do install them, call the fire department's non-emergency number to find out where to call if the alarm goes off and put that number someplace where everyone in the house can get access to it.

Fire Extinguishers: Do You Need Them?

To be able to properly use a fire extinguisher you need training and the ability to make sound decisions. The USFA recommends that fire extinguishers be used only by people who have been trained and only under the following circumstances:

  • All other occupants have been alerted of the fire and someone has called the fire department
  • The fire is small and contained to a single object, such as a waste basket
  • The person using the extinguisher is safe from toxic smoke and fumes from the fire
  • There is a means of escape identified and the fire is not between the person and the escape route
  • The person's instincts say it is safe to use the extinguisher

If all those conditions are not met, everyone should leave the house following the escape plan, go to the meeting place designated in the plan, and call the fire department from a cell phone or from a neighbor's house.

If you do decide to buy a fire extinguisher, you need to be aware of the fact there are five types of extinguishing agents and most extinguishers have symbols that show what type of fire they can be used on.

  • Class A extinguishers, which can be used on ordinary combustible materials like wood, paper, and cloth
  • Class B extinguishers, which are used for fires from flammable liquids like gasoline, oil, grease, and oil-based paints
  • Class C extinguishers, which are used for fires from electric appliances and tools
  • Class D extinguishers, which are used for flammable metals and are usually designed for specific metals and found in factories
  • Class K extinguishers, which can be used on vegetable oils or animal oils and fat in cooking appliances and usually found in commercial kitchens

Fire extinguishers are also available that cover different types of fires.

7 Ways You Can Prevent Kitchen Fires

The best way to prevent a fire is to know what could cause one and then to routinely inspect your home for hazards and correct them. It’s also important to practice fire safety.

Cooking equipment, especially ranges and stove tops, are the number one cause of fires and fire injuries in the US. Here are some important fire safety tips to keep in mind when working in the kitchen.

  • All cooking equipment should be approved by a recognized testing facility, such as Underwriters Laboratories (UL) and be installed according to manufacturer’s instructions and local code.
  • All electric cooking equipment needs to be plugged directly into an outlet, not an extension cord.
  • Do not leave the kitchen when something is frying, grilling, or broiling without turning off the stove.
  • If something is simmering, baking, roasting, or boiling, you need to check it regularly. You can use timers to help you remember.
  • Anything that can catch fire -- for instance, paper towels, recipe cards, cloth hot pads -- needs to be kept away from the stove top. And burners and ovens need to be clean.
  • Never wear loose clothing that might catch fire if it gets too close to the flame.
  • If something in a pan catches fire, put a lid on the pan and turn off the source of heat. Do not attempt to move the pan or remove the lid until the fire is out and the pan has cooled.

WebMD Medical Reference

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