Fire fighters offer seasonal safety tips
June is National Safety Month and, in light of recent house fires throughout East Idaho, the focus is on 'the prevention of home fires.'
The National Safety Council and Captain Craig Stallings of the Blackfoot Fire Department offer these 'seasonal safety tips' that could help prevent your home from going up in flames.
-FIRE PITS — While these outdoor fireplaces add a warm touch to cool East Idaho nights and are great for entertaining, they need to be handled with extreme caution and respect.
-Keep these fireplaces at least 15 feet from any structure or flammable items.
-Place the unit on solid surface in an open area away from overhanging trees, roof lines or outdoor decorations.
-Never leave the fireplace unattended and keep a fire extinguisher close by.
-Avoid using lighter fluid to start the fire and always check (and double check) that any embers are completely extinguished before going inside.
And last but not least, Stallings reminds all to get a fire a permit for these types of pits. Call you local fire department if you need more information.
-GAS GRILLS — The National Fire Protection Association reports that fire departments respond to over 8,200 grill-related fire calls a year...five out of six involve a gas grill.
-Place the grill outside well away from the house. Never grill inside a garage, enclosed porch or under a breezeway, awning or carport.
-Check the grill's propane hoses for cracks and brittleness, then trickle soapy water over the hoses and fittings. Look for bubbles that would indicate a propane leak and repair any leaks before using the grill again.
-Never light a gas grill with the lid closed. Keep a spray bottled filled with water handy to suppress flare-ups and as always, keep a fire extinguisher handy.
According to Stallings, gas grills can emit carbon monoxide, another reason to keep them outside and 'not' in an enclosed area.
-CLOTHES DRYERS — According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission a dryer is responsible for about 15,500 house fires every year causing an average of 10 deaths each year and more than $84.4 million in damage. Summer's warm weather and outdoor activities can create additional wash loads.
-Replace plastic or vinyl vent hoses with a rigid or flexible metal venting system.
-Dry only items that are approved safe to be put in a dryer. (Not foam backed rugs or rubber soled shoes).
-Control lint build-up in the back of the machine, in the venting system and by keeping the lint filter clean after every dryer cycle.
"Lint is very fine and can catch fire very easily if it gets too hot," Stallings said. "Make it a habit to clean the lint filter every time you dry a load."
Stallings also expressed his concern about fire danger and the upcoming 'Fourth of July' holiday.
"It's going to be an extremely dry year," Stallings said. "I cannot stress how careful we need to be with fireworks this year."
"House fires can happen anytime, in any season, so it's important to understand all of the possible sources for fires in the home," he added. "Prevention is still the best way to protect you home. Be smart and 'always' expect the unexpected."