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News | Sept. 9, 2019

Warming up to fire safety

DLA Richmond Fire Prevention/Training Office

As part of this year’s Emergency Preparedness Month campaign at Defense Supply Center Richmond, Virginia, the Defense Logistics Agency Installation Management, Richmond Fire and Emergency Services’ Fire Prevention Office is working to ensure everyone is aware of the risks associated with using candles, kerosene heaters, and home-use generators during and after disaster-related events.
These items are often used by residents to light and heat homes and to cook when a natural or manmade disaster creates widespread power outages. Even without disasters prompting the use of these items, accidents are likely—but they are also preventable.
The Fire Prevention Office shared the following insights from the National Fire Prevention Association:
Home Candle Use
• On average, 23 home candle fires occur daily in the United States.
• Roughly one-third (37%) of home candle fires start in bedrooms, causing 30% of associated deaths, as well as 50% of fire-related injuries.
• Sixty percent of home candle fires occur when flammable materials are located too close to burning candles.
• Falling asleep while candles remain lit is the cause of 11% of home candle fires and 21% of associated deaths.
• Candles cause two percent of reported home fires, three percent of home fire deaths, seven percent of home fire injuries and four percent of property damage.
• December is the peak time of year for home candle fires. Twelve percent of all home candle fires ignite when candles come in contact with holiday decorations.
Home Heating Equipment
Portable home heating equipment is another leading cause of home fire deaths. While nearly half of home equipment fires occur in December, January and February, it is important to exercise caution when using heating equipment at any time. Observe the following precautions:
• Keep anything flammable at least three feet from heating equipment such as furnaces, fireplaces, wood stoves or portable heaters.
• Have a qualified professional inspect and clean heating equipment and chimneys annually.
• Ensure space heaters are given plenty of space away from furniture, blankets and window coverings, and that they are placed on hard surfaces without area rugs or carpeting. Space heaters contribute to four out of five home heating-related fires.
During power outages from storms or disaster-related events, many residents use generators to provide electrical power for their homes. While generators are a useful resource during power outages, the following safety considerations are worth remembering:
• Follow manufacturer recommendations when connecting appliances and equipment directly to your generator.
• Only connect a generator directly to your home electrical system if the circuitry and electrical panel box are wired for such a connection. Incorrect connections may create dangerous conditions for utility personnel working to restore power and may also put neighbors at risk.
• Never operate generators inside the home, including the garage or other attached spaces.
For additional information on October’s Fire Prevention Week and other safety-related topics, contact the DLA Installation Management, Richmond Fire and Emergency Services’ Fire Prevention Office at (804) 279-6782.