September 20, 2010 -- September is National Preparedness Month! Sponsored by Ready.gov, the goal of this awareness month is to encourage you to take simple steps to prepare for emergencies at home, work, and within your community. Portland Fire & Rescue (PF&R) will be providing information, resources, and tips to assist you with emergency preparedness.
The last day of summer is upon us. On Wednesday, Portlanders will officially transition to the fall season. Even though summer has come and gone, citizens will still continue to haul out the gas grill, camping equipment, and lawn mower. To help you transition into our next season, Portland Fire & Rescue provides you with the following quick and simple steps which will help in keeping all summer and fall activities fun and fire-safe.
Keep barbecue grills far away from anything that can burn such as your home, cars, and dry vegetation. Stay with the grill when lighted, and keep children and pets well away from the area. When barbecuing, protect yourself by wearing a heavy apron and an oven mitt that fits high up over your forearm. Barbecue grills must never be used inside the home because, in addition to the fire hazard of indoor grilling, the grill can easily cause carbon monoxide poisoning.
For charcoal grills, only use starter fluids (never use gasoline) designed for barbecue grills. Use a limited amount of starter fluid before lighting the fire. If the fire is too slow, rekindle with dry kindling and add more charcoal if necessary. Don't add liquid fuel to re-ignite or build up a fire, as flash fires can result. Soak the coals with water before you discard them and leave the grill away from the house until completely cool.
For gas grills, always store the gas cylinder outside - away from structures - and turn off the valves when not in use. Check frequently for any leaks in connections by using a soap-and-water mix that will show bubbles if gas escapes. When purchasing a gas grill, select one that bears the mark of an independent testing laboratory. Follow manufacturer's instructions and if needed, have it repaired by a trained professional.
Trim tree limbs so they don't hang over your roof, and keep eaves and gutters free of leaves and other debris that burns easily. Clear weeds, brush and other flammable vegetation at least 30 feet away from your home, and store firewood away from all structures.
Store gasoline outside the home, preferably in a locked, detached shed, and store just enough to power your gasoline-fueled equipment. Keep gasoline up high, inside a clearly marked container that's labeled and approved for gasoline storage. Make sure gasoline and all flammable liquids are well away from any heat source or flame.
Use gasoline as a motor fuel only. To transport gasoline in an automobile to and from the filling station, place a sealed, approved container in the trunk with the trunk lid propped open and drive directly to the fueling site. Take a direct route back home and never store gasoline in a vehicle.
Extinguish smoking materials before fueling, and take the equipment outside well away from combustibles. Wipe up any spills immediately and move the equipment at least 10 feet away from the fueling area to start the engine. Before re-fueling, turn off the equipment and let it cool completely.
Before fueling your boat, make sure to extinguish smoking materials and shut down all motors, fans and heating devices. Be sure the fueling nozzle is grounded to the fuel intake and don't fill to capacity -- leave room for expansion. Wipe up fuel spills immediately and check the bilge for fuel leakage and odors. After fueling and before starting the motor, ventilate with the blower for at least four minutes.
On board your covered boat, consider installing a smoke detector and test the battery before using the boat each time, replacing the battery with a fresh one at least once a year. Only use portable stoves and heaters specifically designed for marine use.
Enjoying Your Pool
Liquid and solid chlorine-based oxidizers are commonly sold for home pool care as hydrogen chloride products. These chemicals can spontaneously combust if contaminated by organic materials (such as body fluids, acid rain, etc.) or hydrocarbon liquids such as fuel or motor oil. This type of fire will result in toxic fumes that can be extremely dangerous and require resident evacuation. Store and use pool chemicals according to the manufacturer's recommendations, and always store them outside the home, away from any heat source or flame. Keep the containers in a dry place, well away from other items. If the container is punctured or otherwise damaged, properly dispose of the chemicals.
Pitch your tent (flame retardant is best) well away from your campfire. Only use flashlights or battery-powered lanterns inside the tent or any other closed space, as opposed to liquid-fueled heaters or lanterns. In addition to the fire hazard posed by liquid-fueled devices, carbon monoxide poisoning can easily result in unvented spaces.
Build your campfire downwind, away from your tent, clearing away all dry vegetation and digging a pit surrounded by rocks. Look for signs that warn of potential fire hazards in national forests and campgrounds, and always obey park service regulations. Pour water over or cover the fire with dirt before going to sleep or leaving the campsite. Store liquid fire starter -- NEVER use gasoline -- away from your tent and campfire and use only dry kindling to freshen a campfire - not liquid fuel.
Contact Portland Fire & Rescue at (503) 823-3700.
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