Prevention & Safety
The East Maine Fire Company is dedicated to keeping the community safe. Please take the time to read through the selected safety and prevention topics below. We urge you to share this information with your family. If you have any questions or would like to learn more about fire prevention and safety, please feel free to contact us.
Click on a topic below to learn more:
Below are some simple but very important rules of fire prevention:
- Have an easily accessible fire extinguisher in your home and know how to use it.
- Make sure everyone in your family knows/has important emergency phone numbers.
- Keep matches and lighters away from children at all times!
- Don’t ever smoke in bed!
- Keep space heaters at least 3 feet away from combustibles such as papers, curtains, furniture, etc.
Detectors & Alarms
The Silent Killer - Colorless, odorless but deadly
Carbon monoxide (CO) is difficult to detect because it is colorless, odorless, tasteless but it is the number 1 cause of poisoning in the United States. CO is the byproduct of combustion and it can kill you before you even know it is there!
Any fuel burning appliance, vehicle, and many other devices have the potential to produce dangerous levels of carbon monoxide gas. CO can be produced by:
- Fuel fired furnaces (non electric)
- Gas water heaters
- Fireplaces and wood stoves
- Gas stoves
- Gas dryers
- Charcoal grills
- Lawnmowers, snow blowers and other yard equipment (non electric)
CO can cause illness and death
The Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC) reports that approximately 200 people per year are killed by accidental CO poisoning with an additional 5000 people injured. These deaths and injuries are typically caused by improperly used or malfunctioning equipment aggravated by improvements in building construction which limit the amount of fresh air flowing in to homes and other structures. The Department of Energy is concerned about CO levels indoors, because its weatherization programs to save energy can tighten houses and other buildings enough to increase CO concentrations.
Medical effects of Carbon Monoxide
CO inhibits the blood's ability to carry oxygen to body tissues including vital organs such as the heart and brain. When CO is inhaled, it combines with the oxygen carrying hemoglobin of the blood to form carboxyhemoglobin. Once combined with the hemoglobin, that hemoglobin is no longer available to transport oxygen throughout the body, thus depriving the body of necessary oxygen. How quickly the carboxyhemoglobin builds up is a factor of the concentration being breathed (measured in parts per million or PPM) and the duration of the exposure.
Aggravating the effects of the exposure is the long half-life of carboxyhemoglobin in the blood. Half-life is a measure of how quickly levels return to normal. The half-life of carboxyhemoglobin is approximately 5 hours. This means that for a give exposure level, it will take about 5 hours for the level to drop in half once the exposure is terminated.
Recognizing the effects of CO
Carbon monoxide poisoning is often confused with "flu like symptoms" such as headache, nausea, dizziness. Make sure all family members are aware of symptoms.
|35 ppm||Headache and dizziness within 6-8 hours of constant exposure|
|100 ppm||Slight headache after 2-3 hours|
|400 ppm||Frontal headache 1-2 hours|
|800 ppm||Dizziness, nausea, convulsions within 45 minutes|
|1600 ppm||Headache dizziness and nausea within 20 minutes, Death can result in 1-2 hours at this level.|
|3200 ppm||Headache, dizziness and nausea in 5 - 10 minutes. Death can result in 30 minutes at this level.|
|6400 ppm||Headache, dizziness and nausea in 1 - 2 minutes. Death can result in 20 minutes at this level.|
|12,800 ppm||Unconscious after 2-3 breaths. Death in less than three minutes.|
How to protect yourself
To protect yourself and your family you need to have Carbon monoxide detectors in your home. The Consumer Product Safety Commission recommends a detector on each floor of a residence. At a minimum, a single detector should be placed on each sleeping floor with an additional detector in the area of any major gas burning appliances such as a furnace or water heater. Installation in these areas ensures rapid detection of any potentially malfunctioning appliances and the ability to hear the alarm from all sleeping areas. Consult the manufacturers installation instructions for proper placement of a detector within a given area. In general, carbon monoxide detectors should be placed high (near the ceiling) for most effective use.
What to do if you suspect CO poisoning
- Call 9-1-1
- Open windows to ventilate the area.
- Shut off your furnace and other fuel burning appliances.
- If anyone is experiencing symptoms, get everyone, including pets, out of your home or building.
- Don't return to your home until the source is found and the problem is corrected.
A yearly checkup of all fuel-burning venting systems in the home is desirable. A yearly checkup of all combustion appliances is suggested. In many areas, upon request, the gas company will provide this service. All gas appliances must have adequate ventilation so that CO will not accumulate. Chimney vents often become blocked by debris causing a buildup of CO. They should be checked annually. Often a makeshift patch on vent pipes can lead to an accumulation of CO, and therefore should be avoided. In-room vent pipes should be on a slight incline as they go toward the exterior. This will reduce leaking of toxic gases in case the joints or pipes are improperly fitted. Using a gas range for heating can result in the accumulation of CO. The use of barbecue grills indoors will quickly result in dangerous levels of CO. Burning charcoal (whether black, red, gray or white) gives off CO. Using a gas camp stove for heating the home, cabin or camper call result in the accumulation of CO. Never run your car in a garage unless the outside door is open to provide ventilation. Doors connecting a garage and house should be kept closed when the auto is running. Buy only equipment carrying the seal of a national testing agency; otherwise, one may get poorly designed equipment, which may soon result in the production of CO.
ALL New York Homes Must Have Carbon Monoxide Alarms as of February 22, 2010
A new state law, known as Amanda’s Law, was effective as of February 22, 2010, and requires all residences, both new and existing, to have carbon monoxide alarms installed.
The law is named for Amanda Hansen, 16, of West Seneca, New York, who was found unconscious at a friend's house in January 2009. Officials later determined she had been exposed to lethal levels of carbon monoxide in the home's basement, where she and her friend were having a sleepover. She later died at South Buffalo Mercy Hospital. A malfunctioning boiler in the home caused CO to build up causing her death.
The new law requires all homes to have a carbon monoxide detector installed to alert residents of the presence of carbon monoxide. Homes built before Jan. 1, 2008, will be permitted to have battery-powered alarms while homes built after that date will need to have the alarms hard-wired in. The gas is odorless and colorless and can cause flu-like symptoms. Without the detectors residents often do not realize their home is filling with CO. CO is the leading cause of poisoning deaths in the U.S. “Carbon monoxide alarms save lives,” said State Fire Administrator Floyd A. Madison, adding that carbon monoxide poisoning is the number one cause of poisoning deaths in the United States. “More than 2,100 people die from carbon monoxide poisoning every year and over 10,000 people are injured, including, on average, 100 New Yorkers.
Carbon monoxide can be produced when burning any fuel such as; gasoline, charcoal, propane, natural gas, kerosene, oil, wood, or coal. If any flammable or combustible material burns incompletely, carbon monoxide is produced. Carbon monoxide can kill in minutes or hours depending on the level of carbon monoxide in the air.
Detectors should be installed near bedrooms, common gathering areas and near appliances, such as stoves, furnaces and water heaters that may emit the monoxide.
Contact NYS Office of Fire Prevention and Control for more information. Click here for their Carbon Monoxide Virtual Toolbox
Smoke alarms save lives, but only if they work!
Make sure to change your batteries and test your smoke alarms frequently! As a minimum, we recommend changing your batteries at least twice a year at the begining and end of daylight savings time. Also remember to replace your smoke alarms every 10 years.
Installing and testing your smoke alarms
- Install smoke alarms Listed (examined and tested to appropriate product safety standards) by a qualified testing laboratory on every level of your home, including the basement (but not unfinished attics). Make sure there is an alarm in or near every sleeping area.
- Mount the smoke alarms high on ceilings or walls – remember, smoke rises. eiling-mounted alarms should be installed at least four inches away from the nearest wall; wall-mounted alarms should be installed four to 12 inches away from the ceiling.
- Don't install smoke alarms near windows, outside doors, or ducts where drafts might interfere with their operation.
- Don't paint your smoke alarms; paint or other decorations could keep them from working when you most need it.
Making sure your smoke alarms are working properly
Test your smoke alarms at least once a month by using the alarms' "test button." Never use an open-flame device to test the alarm as you could burn yourself or start a fire. If the smoke alarm manufacturer's instructions permit the use of an aerosol smoke product for testing the smoke alarm, only use one that has been Listed by a third-party product testing agency, and utilize it in accordance with the product instructions.
- Replace the batteries in your smoke alarms twice a year, or as soon as the alarm "chirps," warning that the battery is low.
- Regularly vacuuming or dusting your smoke alarm following manufacturer's instructions can help keep it working properly.
- Replace your smoke alarms once every 10 years.
- Never "borrow" a battery from a smoke alarm.
- Make sure that everyone in your home can hear and recognize the sound of the alarm and knows how to react immediately.
Home Safety & Planning
Practice and plan your home fire drill to ensure everyones safety!
More than 4,000 Americans die each year in fires, and approximately 20,000 are injured. Deaths resulting from failed emergency escapes are particularly avoidable. The United States Fire Administration (USFA) believes that having a sound escape plan will greatly reduce fire deaths and protect you and your family's safety if a fire occurs. The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) and the Endwell Fire Department urge everyone to plan and PRACTICE your home escape plan.
Fast facts you should know about home escape planning and practice:
- According to a 2004 NFPA survey, only one in four Americans has devised and practiced a plan to escape from the home during a fire.
- While 66% of Americans have an escape plan, only 35% of those with a plan have practiced it.
- Three-quarters of Americans believe they have 10 minutes or less until a fire turns deadly, the time available is often less.
- Only 8% of people said their first thought on hearing a smoke alarm would be to get out!
- Eighteen to 24-year-olds are the least likely to have even developed an escape plan.
EXIT DRILLS IN THE HOME
People can survive even major fires in their homes if they are alerted to the fire and get out quickly and stay out.
HOW TO SURVIVE
Install smoke detectors and keep them in working order. Make an escape plan and "practice" it. Consider installing an automatic fire-sprinkler system.
PLAN YOUR ESCAPE
Once a fire has started, there is no time to plan how to get out. Sit down with your family today, and make a step-by-step plan for escaping a fire. Draw a floor Plan of your Home, marking two ways out of every room - especially sleeping areas. Discuss the escape routes with every member of your household. Dowload a grid to help you plan your drill. Agree on a Meeting Place, where every member of the household will gather outside your home after escaping a fire to wait for the fire department. This allows you to count heads and inform the fire department if anyone is missing or trapped inside the burning building. Practice your escape plan at least twice a year. Have a fire drill in your home. Appoint someone to be the monitor, and have everyone participate. A fire drill is not a race. Get out quickly, but carefully.
MAKE YOUR EXIT DRILL REALISTIC
Pretend that some exits are blocked by fire, and practice alternative escape routes, Pretend that the lights are out and that some escape routes are filling with smoke. Make sure everyone in the household can unlock all doors and windows quickly, even in the dark. Windows or doors with security bars need to be equipped with quick-release devices, and everyone in the household should know how to use them. If you live in an apartment building, use stairways to escape. NEVER use an elevator during a fire. It may stop between floors or take you to a floor where the fire is burning. Some high-rise buildings may have evacuation plans that require you to stay where you are and wait for the fire department. If you live in a multi-story house and you must escape from an upper story window, be sure there is a safe way to reach the ground, such as a fire-resistant fire escape ladder. Make special arrangements for children, older adults and people with disabilities. People who have difficulty moving should have a phone in their sleeping area and , if possible, should sleep on the ground floor.
TEST DOORS BEFORE OPENING THEM.
While kneeling or crouching at the door, reach up as high as you can and with the back of your hand touch the door, the knob, and the crack between the door and its frame. If you feel any warmth at all, use another escape route. If the door feels cool, open it with caution. Put your shoulder against the door and open it slowly. Be prepared to slam it shut if there is smoke or flames on the other side. If you are trapped, close all doors between you and the fire. Stuff the cracks around the doors to keep out smoke. Wait at a window and signal for help with a flashlight or by waving a light colored cloth. If there is a phone in the room, call the fire department and report exactly where you are.
GET OUT FAST
In case of a fire, don't stop for anything. Do not try to rescue possessions or pets. Go directly to your meeting place, and then call the fire department from a neighbor's phone, a portable phone, or an alarm box. Every member of your household should know how to call the fire department. Crawl low under smoke. Smoke contains deadly gases, and heat rises. During a fire, cleaner air will be near the floor. If you encounter smoke when using your primary exit, use an alternative escape route. If you must exit through smoke, crawl on your hands and knees, keeping your head 12 to 24 inches (30 - 60 centimeters) above the floor.
. . . AND STAY OUT!
Once you are out of your home, don't go back for any reason. If people are trapped, the firefighters have the best chance of rescuing them. The heat and smoke of a fire are overpowering. Firefighters have the training, experience, and protective equipment needed to enter burning buildings.
PLAY IT SAFE
Smoke Detectors. More than half of all fatal home fires happen at night while people are asleep. Smoke detectors sound an alarm when a fire starts, waking people before they are trapped or overcome by smoke. With smoke detectors, your risk of dying in a home fire is cut nearly in half. Install smoke detectors outside every sleeping area and on every level of your home, including the basement. Follow installation instructions carefully, and test smoke detectors monthly. Change all smoke detector batteries at least once a year. If your detector is more than 10 years old, replace it with a new one. Automatic fire-sprinkler systems. These systems attack a fire in its early stages by spraying water only on the area where the fire has begun. Consider including sprinkler systems in plans for new construction and installing them in existing homes.
NOW, use what you've learned, SET UP YOUR PLAN, including two ways out, a meeting place and CONDUCT A PRACTICE DRILL to determine if anything has been overlooked. EVERYONE in the household NEEDS TO PARTICIPATE for it to be successful. It may SAVE YOUR LIFE.
HEATING SAFETY TIPS
Heating equipment is the second leading cause of home fires.
Behind cooking, heating equipment is the leading cause of home fire deaths, accounting for approximately 80% of fire fatalities.
Here are some hints to help you get through the heating season more safely:
GENERAL HEATING SAFETY TIPS
- Keep children and pets away from all heating appliances.
- Use heaters that are tested and certified by a nationally recognized testing laboratory.
- Buy a heater that is the correct size for the area you want to heat.
- Read and follow all of the manufacturer's operating instructions.
- Never use or store flammable liquids around any heating appliance.
- Be aware that mobile homes require specially designed heating equipment.
- Have at least one smoke alarm on each floor and outside sleeping areas.
- Install a UL approved carbon monoxide alarms near all sleeping areas.
- Have an ABC-type fire extinguisher in the home at all times.
- Keep areas around heating appliances free of papers, trash, and any other combustible items.
- Develop and practice a home fire escape plan before a fire occurs.
- Have annual safety checks on all home-heating equipment.
SAFETY TIPS FOR KEROSENE SPACE HEATERS
- Never use gasoline in a kerosene heater.
- Only use K-1 kerosene in kerosene heaters. Kerosene should be purchased from a dealer who can certify that it is K-1 grade kerosene.
- Never over-fill the fuel tank of a kerosene heater beyond the full mark.
- Do not attempt to refuel the heater when it is operating or hot.
- Always refuel kerosene heaters outside and when completely cooled.
- If flare-up or flaming occurs, do not attempt to move the heater. If activation of the shut-off switch does not extinguish the flame, leave the area and immediately and call the fire department.
- Keep heaters at least three feet away from bedding, furniture and drapes.
- Never leave a space heater on when you sleep or leave the area.
- Keep kerosene stored outside in a sealed blue container labeled "Kerosene."
SAFETY TIPS FOR PORTABLE ELECTRIC SPACE HEATERS
- Use a heater with a tip-over switch that will turn the heater off if it is tipped over.
- Use heaters on the floor, never place heaters on furniture.
- Do not use heaters in wet or moist places unless certified for that purpose.
- Do not place cords under rugs or set anything on top of the cord.
- Do not use an extension cord.
- Be sure the plug fits snugly and properly into the outlet.
- Broken heaters should be repaired by a qualified appliance service technician.
SAFETY TIPS FOR GAS SPACE HEATERS
- Have your gas heater professionally installed and inspected.
- Gas heaters can cause carbon monoxide poisoning if they are not vented properly.
- Light the match before you turn on the gas to the pilot.
- If you smell gas, do not attempt to light the appliance. Call the fire department.
SAFETY TIPS FOR FIREPLACES, WOOD OR COAL BURNING HEATERS
- Follow building codes and the manufacturer's instructions during installation.
- Before the start of the heating season have your chimney cleaned and inspected.
- Check chimney and stovepipes frequently during the heating season for creosote build-up.
- Do not burn trash or anything other than the proper fuel.
- Use only dry, seasoned hardwoods in your fireplace or woodstove.
- Use a glass or mesh fireplace screen to keep embers or sparks from leaving the fireplace.
- Use a separate metal container for ash removal.
Candles, while beautiful and aromatic, can be dangerous and destructive.
One third of all candle fires occurred after candles were left unattended, abandoned or inadequately controlled.
December has almost twice the number of home candle fires of an average month. And Christmas Day saw the most candle fires with 180 candle fires occurring on December 25 alone. New Year's Day and Christmas Eve came in a close second with had 150 candle fires occurring each day. You need to be especially cautious using candles around home decorations. 45 percent of all candle fires were started when a candle ignited decorations. 20 percent were caused by candles igniting curtains or drapes.
CANDLE SAFETY TIPS
- Extinguish all candles when leaving the room or going to sleep.
- Keep candles away from items that can catch fire (e.g. clothing, books, paper curtains, Christmas trees, flammable decorations).
- Use candle holders that are study won't tip over easily, are made from a material that can't burn and are large enough to collect dripping wax.
- Don't place lit candles in windows, where blinds and curtains can close over them.
- Keep candles and all open flames away from flammable liquids.
- Keep candle wicks trimmed to one-quarter inch and extinguish taper and pillar candles when they get to within two inches of the holder or decorative material. Votives and containers should be extinguished before the last half-0inch of wax starts to melt.
- Avoid candles with combustible items embedded in them.
CANDLES & CHILDREN
- Keep candles up high out of reach of children.
- Never leave a child unattended in a room with a candle. A child should not sleep in a room with a lit candle.
- Don't allow children or teens to have candles in their bedrooms.
- Store candles, matches and lights up high and out of children's sign and reach, preferably in a locked cabinet.
DURING POWER OUTAGES
- Try to avoid carrying a lit candle. Don't use a lit candle when searching for items in a confined space.
- Never use a candle for a light when checking pilot lights or fueling equipment such as a kerosene heater or lantern. The flame may ignite the fumes.
In case of an emergency, can we find your house?
House numbers are important. Many homes have no house number! This makes it very difficult for police, fire and ambulance agencies to locate your home in an emergency. Help your local emergency responders find you quickly by having your house number clearly displayed on your home.
Make sure your house is numbered and that it is visible. Here are some tips to help:
- Numbers should be on the front of the residence, or on a mailbox, fence, wall or post facing the road.
- If your house is far back from the roadway, you should consider adding a post or marker near your driveway, close to the road showing your house number.
- Numbers should be a contrasting color to their immediate background.
- Avoid script letters are they are hard to read late at night or from a moving vehicle.
- Make sure landscaping isn’t blocking numbers.
- Materials should be durable and weather resistant.
On the Road
Please pull over for your local volunteer firefighters!
A car with a flashing blue light is a volunteer firefighter responding to an emergency. So when you see a blue light, please pull over! It will only take a few seconds but in an emergency, seconds count!
Blue lights do not give volunteers any special privileges. They are courtesy lights only. The blue light is to alert other drivers that we are on our way to an emergency. It's up to other driver to pull over and let us go by!
By practicing blue light courtesy you are helping us, help you!
LEAVES AND CAR FIRES
Do not park in dry leaves!
You should avoid parking on these leaf piles. Car parts, such as catalytic converters and mufflers, can get very hot! The dry leaves are extremely flammable and are easily ignited by hot vehicle parts.
Over the years there have been more than a few car fires which have started in a pile of leaves and spread to a car. To prevent vehicle fires from starting, we suggest that you avoid parking in the leaf piles at all times.
Safety around the Holidays
HOLIDAY SEASON SAFETY
- When purchasing an artificial tree, look for the label "Fire Resistant". Although this label does not mean the tree will not catch fire, it does indicate the tree will resist burning and should extinguish quickly.
- When purchasing a live tree, check for freshness. A fresh tree is green, needles are hard to pull from branches and when bent between you fingers, needles do not break. The trunk butt of a fresh tree is sticky with resin, and when tapped on the ground, the tree should not lose many needles.
- When setting up a tree at home, place it away from fireplaces and radiators. Because heated rooms dry live trees out rapidly, be sure to keep the stand filled with water. Place the tree out of the way of traffic and do not block doorways.
- Indoors or outside, use only lights that have been tested for safety by a recognized testing laboratory, which indicates conformance with safety standards. Use only lights that have fused plugs.
- Check each set of lights, new or old, for broken or cracked sockets, frayed or bare wires, or loose connections, and throw out damaged sets. Always replace burned out bulbs promptly with the same wattage bulbs.
- Use no more than three (3) standard size sets of lights per single extension cord. Make sure the extension cord is rated for the intended use.
- Never use electric lights on a metallic tree. The tree can become charged with electricity from faulty lights, and a person touching a branch could be electrocuted.
- Before using lights outdoors, check labels to be sure they have been certified for outdoor use.
- Fasten outdoor lights securely to trees, house walls, or other firm supports to protect the lights from wind damage. Use only insulated stapled to hold strings in place, not nails or tacks. Or run strings of lights through hooks (available at hardware stores).
- Turn off all lights when you go to bed or leave the house. The lights could short out and start a fire.
- For added electric shock protection, plug outdoor electric lights and decorations into circuits protected by ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs). Portable outdoor GFCIs can be purchased where electrical supplies are sold. GFCIs can be installed permanently to household circuits by a qualified electrician.
- Use only non-combustible or flame resistant materials to trim a tree. Chose tinsel or artificial icicles of plastic or unleaded metals. Leaded materials are hazardous if ingested by children.
- Never use lighted candles on a tree or near other evergreens. Always use non-flammable holders, and place candles where they will not be knocked down.
- In homes with small children, take special care to avoid decorations that are sharp orb breakable, keep trimmings with small removable parts out of the reach of children to avoid the child swallowing or inhaling small pieces and avoid trimmings that resemble candy or food that may tempt a child to eat them.
- Wear gloves to avoid eye and skin irritation while decorating with spun glass "angel hair". Follow container directions carefully to avoid lung irritation while decorating with artificial snow sprays.
- Use care with "fire salts", which produce colored flames when thrown on wood fires. They contain heavy metals that can cause intense gastrointestinal irritation and vomiting gif eaten. Keep them away from children.
- Do not burn wrapping papers in the fireplace. A flash fire may result as wrappings ignite suddenly and burn intensely.
Halloween can be one of the most dangerous nights for children.
Here are some tips for preventing pedestrian injuries, burns and falls:
- Use glow sticks or battery operated candles inside jack-o-lanterns instead of open flame candles.
- Keep candles, pumpkins with candles, matches and lighters out of children's reach.
- If you do use candles in your jack-o-lanterns, never leave them unattended.
- Remove obstacles from lawns, steps and porches when expecting treat-or-treaters.
- Indoors, keep candles and jack-o-lanterns away from curtains, decorations and other combustibles that could be ignited.
- Use flame resistant costumes and accessories.
- Make sure the costume lets you see and hear. You will need to be able to see where you are going as well as watch and listen for cars.
- Costumes should be visible- many have reflective trim for better visibility at night- (reflective tape may be purchased at sporting goods or hardware stores & added to make costumes and shoes to make kids more visible).
- To prevent trip hazards- shorten costumes if necessary.
- Wear well-fitting sneakers or shoes- Mom's high heels may look cute but may cause a fall.
- Face paint is preferable- if a mask is worn it should have large eyeholes to allow for full vision.
- Chemical sticks or battery powered jack-o-lanterns are much safer than candles.
- Go over "Stop, Drop & Roll" in case children's costumes catch fire.
- Children should stay on sidewalks wherever possible and cross only at crosswalks and intersections.
- Do not cut across yards. Lawn ornaments, clothes lines or other things may become hidden hazards in the dark.
- Children should carry flashlights to allow them to see where they are going and to make them for visible for drivers.
- Children should enter and exit cards on the curbside, away from traffic.
- Motorists: When you are driving on Halloween night- please slow down in residential neighborhoods. Watch for children walking and crossing streets. Enter and exit driveways and streets slowly and carefully.
TRICK OR TREATING
- Children should trick or treat in groups and be accompanied by an adult. Children should never enter a home or apartment unless there is an adult with them.
- Adults should check treats before children are allowed to eat them- discard unpackaged treats or any that have broken or torn packaging.
- Accessories, such as swords or knives should be made out soft flexible, material.
- Children should trick or treat only in groups - younger children should be accompanied by an adult.