Choosy Extinguishers

A portable fire extinguisher can save lives and property by putting out a small fire or containing it until the fire department arrives. But when it comes to extinguishers, one type does not fit all. There are five primary types of fire extinguishers, each designed to put out different kinds of fires:

  • A:  For use with materials like cloth, wood and paper;
  • B:  For use with combustible and flammable liquids like grease, gasoline, oil and oil-based paints;
  • C:  For use with electrical equipment like appliances, tools, or other equipment that is plugged in;
  • D:  For use with flammable metals like aluminum, magnesium, and titanium; and
  • K:  For use with vegetable oils, animal oils and fats in cooking appliances.

There are also multi-purpose fire extinguishers that might be labeled “B-C” or “A-B-C”. These are best suited for home use and can be found at most home improvement stores.

Before you consider using an extinguisher there are some very important details to remember:

  • The U. S. Fire Administration recommends that only those trained in the proper use and maintenance of fire extinguishers consider using them when appropriate! Contact your local fire department for training in your area;
  • If you do not think you would be able to safely put the fire out in five seconds using an extinguisher, do not attempt to use it! Leave the area and call 911; and
  • When using an extinguisher, be sure to follow the PASS methodPull the pin, Aim low, Squeeze the handle, and Sweep from side to side.

To learn more about fire safety and how to properly extinguish fires, check out FEMA’s preparedness activity module, Putting Out Fires.

Heating Safety

 There is something about the winter months and curling up
with a good book by the fireplace. But did you know that heating
equipment is a leading cause of home fire deaths? With a few simple safety tips and precautions you can prevent most heating fires from happening
.

 

FACT

Half of home heating fires are reported during the months of 
December, January, and February.

 

Heating Equipment Smarts

Install wood burning stoves following
manufacturer’s instructions or have a professional do the
installation. All fuel-burning equipment should be vented
to the outside to avoid carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning.

 If you smell gas in your gas heater, do not light the
appliance. Leave the home immediately
and call your local fire department or gas company.

 
Have a three-foot “kid-free zone”
around open fires and space heaters.
 
Never use your oven to heat your home.
 
Have heating equipment and chimneys
inspected every year by a qualified professional.
 
Have a qualified professional install stationary
space heating equipment, water heaters or central
heating equipment according to the local codes
and manufacturer’s instructions.
 
Remember to turn portable heaters off when
leaving the room or going to bed.
 
Always use the right kind of fuel, specified by the
manufacturer, for fuel burning space heaters.
 
Make sure the fireplace has a sturdy screen to stop
sparks from flying into the room. Ashes should be
cool before putting them in a metal container. Keep
the container a safe distance away from your home.
 
Test smoke alarms monthly!

 

For Your Health Durning a Disaster

If you need medical assistance during a disaster, paramedics and other professional responders may not be immediately available, and hospitals and clinics may not be accessible. That’s why it’s important to keep medical records, supplies and prescriptions easily accessible and to learn simple first aid techniques. Creating a “stay healthy” kit will help you to manage minor medical needs until help arrives. Your kit should include:

  • A list of prescription medications, medical conditions, and copies of medical insurance documentation;
  • First aid supplies, such as bandages, aspirin, and antiseptic cream; and
  • A week’s supply of medicines in a plastic bag labeled with each family member’s name.

If your medicine requires refrigeration and the power goes out, most medicines can be kept in a closed refrigerator for several hours and still be safe to use. Be sure to contact your doctor or pharmacist if you have questions about your medication.

As with other hazards, there are specific steps that you can take before and during an influenza pandemic to protect yourself and your loved ones. For example, simple preventive measures, such as using alcohol-based hand sanitizer, can help protect you from germs and prevent you from spreading them to others.  

College Checklist: Preparedness Edition

Families throughout the country are preparing to send their sons and daughters to college – and many of them will be away from home for the first time.  Being prepared will help your college student remain safe and calmly deal with emergency situations.

Having a disaster readiness kit is one of the best ways to stay prepared.  This can be as simple as a backpack containing items like a flashlight, a small radio, extra batteries, a solar powered or hand-cranked cell phone charger, energy bars, water and first aid supplies. Ready-made kits designed for students can be ordered from the American Red Cross. Advise your student to keep their kit in an easily accessible place, like under the bed or on the top shelf of a closet.

Most colleges have emergency plans and it may be posted on their website.  If not, contact the admissions office to get a copy and confirm your child is registered on the emergency notification system.

Also, prepare your family communications plan now so your child will know how to contact you in case communications between home and school are disrupted.  Make an emergency information list of names, phone numbers and locations of family members, doctors, medical insurance and other important resources.