Fire Safety

The following articles from the State Fire Marshal highlight important safety information about the most common causes of fire-related injuries and deaths.

Change Your Clocks, Change Your Smoke Alarm Batteries

Montana State Fire Marshal Allen Lorenz reminds Montanans to check the batteries in their smoke alarms when they change their clocks to Daylight Savings Time each spring.

Many homes have smoke alarms with nine-volt batteries that should be replaced at least twice each year. Long-life lithium batteries have a life span of up to 10 years and so don’t need to be replaced as often.

“The key is to take a few minutes to check, test and clean your smoke alarms to make sure they are functioning properly,” Lorenz said. “A good way to remember is to do this whenever you change your clocks for Daylight Savings Time.”

According to the National Fire Protection Association, 70 percent of all home fire deaths occur in homes with no alarms or no working alarms. In these cases, the alarms were missing batteries, the batteries were dead, or they had been disconnected. In Montana during 2004, 87 percent of fire deaths occurred in homes that did not have smoke alarms or in which the smoke alarms were not in working condition.

“Having a working smoke alarm more than doubles someone’s chances of surviving a fire,” Lorenz said.

General safety guidelines include:

  • Install smoke alarms in your home if you don’t already have them. An alarm located between the sleeping area and the living area offers a minimum amount of protection. For maximum protection, install an alarm in every room, on every level of your home.
  • Replace smoke alarms periodically. Smoke alarms lose sensitivity over time and should be replaced every 10 years.
  • Check alarms at least once a month. Press the test button to check your alarm and, if it doesn’t sound, replace the batteries. If this doesn’t solve the problem, replace the unit. Nine-volt batteries should be changed at least twice a year.
  • Periodically clean smoke alarms using a vacuum attachment. This removes particles that could interfere with the alarm’s proper operation.
  • Replace “chirping” alarms. This sound indicates that the batteries are weak and need to be replaced.

Wildfire Arson

Arson is a serious and deadly crime. Every year, deliberately set fires kill over 300 people and cause millions of dollars in property losses. According to the National Fire Protection Association, in 2003 there were an estimated 37,000 arson-caused structure fires.

State Fire Marshal Allen Lorenz noted that arson and other uncontrolled wildland fires pose a serious threat to lives, property and natural resources in Montana’s rural and suburban communities.

According to Lorenz, most arson fires are started outdoors. Property owners should take the following steps to make it harder for an arsonist to start a fire and for an outdoor fire to spread to a building.

  • Keep leaves, firewood, overgrown brush and other combustibles away from buildings.
  • Move fuel tanks away from buildings.
  • Maintain an adequate outside water supply and power source for water pumping equipment, and make sure there is adequate access for firefighters.
  • Use fire-resistant or noncombustible building materials.
  • Support the adoption of local wildland-urban interface building codes and weed abatement ordinances for structures built near wooded areas.

Report suspicious activity near houses or other buildings to local law enforcement. If you suspect that an arson crime has been committed, contact your local fire or law enforcement agency, or the State Fire Marshal’s Office.

Let’s work together to stop arson and prevent fires.

Fire Safety During the Summer Months

Although more fire deaths occur during the winter, Montana State Fire Marshal Allen Lorenz urges Montanans to be aware that many outdoor summer activities carry potential fire hazards.

“Children often spend more time alone or with less adult supervision over the summer,” Lorenz said, “so parents need to make sure children know how to call the emergency services number to report a fire or injury, never to touch matches and lighters, and to get out and stay out of their homes if there’s a fire inside.”

Barbecue Safety

NFPA statistics show that, in 2002, gas and charcoal grills caused 900 structure fires and 3,500 outdoor fires in or on home properties, resulting in a combined property loss of $30 million.

  • When using barbecue grills on decks or patios, be sure to leave sufficient space from siding and eaves.
  • Always supervise a barbecue grill when it’s in use.
  • Keep children and pets far away from grills.
  • With charcoal grills, use only charcoal starter fluids designed for barbecue grills and do not add fluid after coals have been lit.
  • With gas grills, be sure that the hose connection is tight and check hoses carefully for leaks. Applying soapy water to the hoses will easily and safely reveal any leaks.
  • Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions and have a grill repaired by a professional if necessary.
Camping Safety
  • Always use a flame retardant tent and set up camp far away from the campfire.
  • Use only flashlights or battery-powered lanterns inside the tent or any other closed space, not liquid-filled heaters or lanterns.
  • Always build your campfire down wind away from your tent. Clear all vegetation and dig a pit surrounded by rocks before building your campfire.
  • Store liquid fire starter away from your tent and campfire, and use only dry kindling to freshen a campfire.
  • Always put out a campfire when going to sleep or leaving the campsite. To extinguish the fire, cover it with dirt or pour water over it.

Be Safe with Fireworks

For many Americans, fireworks have become part of their July 4th holiday tradition – it wouldn’t be the same without beautifully colored sparks flying through the air in concert with loud explosions.

As exciting as this may seem, people often forget that they are playing with explosives: dangerous chemicals and combustibles that can injure people and destroy property. These deceptively simple objects explode, throw hot sparks and often reach temperatures above 1,200 degrees.

Montana State Fire Marshal Allen Lorenz said that misused fireworks caused two deaths in Montana last year. Nationally, fireworks have caused millions of dollars in property loss and thousands of injuries and deaths.

“The safest way to enjoy fireworks is to attend a public fireworks display and let the professionals handle the explosives,” Lorenz said.

But if consumers do plan to shoot off their own fireworks, Lorenz reminds Montanans to pay particular attention to these safety tips:

  • Purchase fireworks only from licensed and approved dealers.
  • Read and follow the directions on fireworks packages.
  • Make sure adults supervise all use of fireworks. Young children should not play with fireworks. Even sparklers can cause serious burns.
  • Do not point or throw fireworks at people.
  • Use fireworks in an open area away from dry grass and other flammable materials. Keep a bucket of water nearby for emergencies.
  • Light fireworks one at a time. Do not try to re-ignite fireworks. Soak fireworks that did not ignite with water. Do not attempt to repair broken fireworks.
  • Be sure other people are out of range before lighting fireworks.
  • Store fireworks in a cool, dry place. Keep fireworks out of your pockets.

Fire Safety Important On and Off Campus

College is the first taste of independence for many young adults. For the first time, students may be responsible for all aspects of their daily living. This is an important time to put safety practices into use.

Cooking

According to the U.S. Fire Administration, cooking fires are the number one cause of fire injury on college campuses. The State Fire Marshal’s Office recommends the following guidelines:

  • Follow dormitory rules regarding possession and use of cooking appliances.
  • Use cooking appliances correctly. Do not overload electrical outlets or extension cords.
  • Pay attention when cooking. Do not get sidetracked or leave cooking unattended.
  • Move items such as potholders or dishtowels away from cooking surfaces.
Candles

Although many higher education facilities ban the use of candles in on-campus housing, approximately 66 percent of college students live off-campus. Many students reside in one and two-family dwellings and apartment buildings, which places them at a higher risk for candle-caused fires.

“Candles are one of the leading causes of residential fires and related deaths,” State Fire Marshal Allen Lorenz said. His office and the Center for Campus Fire Safety recommend the following tips for using candles safely:

  • Extinguish all candles when leaving a room or going to sleep. More than a third of candle-caused fires occur when candles are left unattended.
  • Keep candles away from things that can catch fire, such as clothing, books, paper and curtains. Don’t place candles in a window where they can ignite the blinds or curtains.
  • Place candles on stable furniture in sturdy holders that won’t tip over and that are big enough to collect dripping wax. Place candles only in areas where they won’t be knocked over by children or pets.
  • Avoid candles with combustible materials embedded in them, or with holders or decorations that could ignite.
General Fire Safety Tips
  • Know the contact number for the fire department and keep it near the telephone.
  • Have an escape plan. Check exit doors and windows to make sure they are working properly.
  • Take every fire alarm seriously. Know and follow the posted evacuation plan.
  • Follow local regulations and the manufacturer’s guidelines for heating devices.
  • Do not overload electrical outlets and make sure extension cords are used properly.
  • If you smoke, be careful and follow applicable rules and regulations.

Older Adults Face
Higher Risk of Fire Death and Injury

Older adults are the fastest growing segment of the American population and they are at the highest risk for fire-related deaths. Based on 1995-1999 annual averages, adults 65 and older face a risk twice the overall average, while people 85 and older have a risk that is 4½ times the average, according to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA). During 2005, more than one-third of fire fatalities were people over age 60. Statistics from the National Fire Incident Reporting System show that two out of every three fire deaths in the elderly occur when the victim is sleeping or trying to escape. This demonstrates the importance of preparing and practicing an escape plan and adjusting that plan to take into consideration the physical capabilities of older adults.

Older adults may have decreased mobility and other health issues that prohibit a quick response during a fire emergency. Many older adults take multiple medications that could lead to a slower response or confusion, altering the decision-making process. The impairments caused by the combination of alcohol and prescription drugs in older adults can further impede judgment and escape. Such impairments may also lead to an increased likelihood of accidentally starting a fire or not detecting a fire in its early stages.

“Often, a family member, caregiver or neighbor may need to help an older adult safely exit the home. Addressing these issues before a fire occurs is essential,” said Allen Lorenz, Montana State Fire Marshal. Lorenz said the U.S. Fire Administration has recommendations for older adults and the people close to them.

Install and maintain smoke alarms

  • Make sure smoke alarms are installed on each level of the home and outside all sleeping areas.
  • Test them monthly and replace the batteries at least once a year.
  • Caregivers are encouraged to check the smoke alarms for those who are unable to do it themselves. The chances of surviving a home fire almost double with the initial warning from a smoke alarm.

Plan the escape

  • Each fire-escape plan must consider each person’s physical capabilities.
  • People who use a walker or wheelchair should check all exits to be sure they fit through the doorways. If needed, any necessary accommodations – like providing exit ramps and widening doorways – should be made to assist with an emergency escape.
  • Adults – or their caregivers – should know at least two exits from every room.
  • Unless instructed by the fire department, residents should never use an elevator during a fire.

Don’t be isolated

  • Seniors should speak to family members, a building manager or neighbors about their fire safety plan and practice it with them.
  • They should contact the local fire department’s non-emergency line and explain their special needs.
  • The fire department will probably suggest escape-plan ideas and may perform a home fire-safety inspection and offer suggestions about smoke alarm placement and maintenance.
  • Seniors should ask emergency providers to keep their special needs information on file.

Live near an exit

  • In apartment buildings, older adults will be safest on the ground floor.
  • In a multi-story home, they should try to have their bedrooms on the ground floor, near an exit.

Be fire safe

  • The leading cause of residential fire deaths among older adults is careless smoking.
  • No one should smoke in bed or near an oxygen source, gas stove or other flammable object.
  • When cooking, older adults should not approach an open flame while wearing loose clothing, and should not leave cooking unattended. A timer can be a reminder of food in the oven.
  • Electrical outlets or extension cords should not be overloaded.
  • The oven should never be used to heat the home. Chimneys and space heaters should be properly maintained.
  • Anyone who takes medication that may cause drowsiness should take special precautions.

“Fire safety is everyone’s responsibility. Taking advantage of modern technology by installing a residential sprinkler system is an option worth exploring, especially for people with mobility issues,” added Lorenz.

Prevent Cooking Fires

According to the latest National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) research, cooking is the leading cause of home fires. One out of three home fires begins in the kitchen—more than any other area of the home. Cooking fires are also the leading cause of home fire-related injuries.

“Often when we’re called to a fire that started in the kitchen, the residents tell us that they only left the kitchen for a few minutes,” Montana State Fire Marshal Allen Lorenz said. “But that’s all it takes for a dangerous fire to start.”

Firefighters and safety advocates emphasize these safety tips:

  • Stay in the kitchen when you are frying, grilling, broiling or boiling food.
  • If you must leave the room, even for a short period of time, turn off the stove.
  • When you are simmering, baking or roasting food, check it regularly, stay in the home and use a timer to remind you.
  • If you have young children, use the stove’s back burners whenever possible. Keep children and pets at least three feet away from the stove.
  • When you cook, wear clothing with tight-fitting sleeves.
  • Keep potholders, oven mitts, wooden utensils, paper and plastic bags, towels, and anything else that can burn away from your stovetop.
  • Clean up food and grease from burners and stovetops.

Safety During the Holiday Season

Warm, cozy homes and candle-lit holiday feasts play a major role in our preparations for family gatherings. Unfortunately, this also increases the risk of fires. Fires can be prevented and losses reduced by following a few simple safety measures.

Cooking Safety

Pay particular attention while cooking, especially when using oils and grease. Cooking appliances should be kept free of grease build-up, which can easily ignite. Applying a lid to a small grease fire is usually the most effective and safest method of controlling it. Trying to carry a pan that’s on fire is extremely dangerous because it can ignite clothes or spill, causing severe burns. If the fire is inside your oven, turn off the heat and leave the door closed to cut off the fire’s air supply.

Young children should be kept away from cooking appliances to prevent any mishaps. It’s always a good idea to use back burners when possible, and keep pot handles turned to the inside so they won’t be pulled or knocked over. Check stoves and other appliances before going to bed or leaving your home to make sure they are left in the “off” position.

With the increased popularity of frying turkeys, the National Fire Protection Agency (NFPA) and the National Burn Foundation warn consumers against using turkey fryers. Tests have shown that many of the fryers have a risk of tipping over, overheating or spilling hot oil, leading to fires and burns. For more information, see the Underwriter Laboratories (UL) website.

Candle Safety

According to the National Candle Association, seven out of 10 households use candles. The NFPA reports that candle-caused fires have increased. However, the number of home fires in the nation continues to decrease. In 2001, candle fires accounted for 4.7 percent of home fires, compared with 1.1 percent in the early 1980s.

  • Extinguish all candles when leaving the room or going to sleep.
  • Protect open candle flames with a proper glass globe.
  • Keep candles away from things that can catch fire, such as clothing, books, paper, curtains, Christmas trees and decorations.
  • Place candles on stable furniture in sturdy holders that won’t tip over and that are big enough to collect dripping wax.
  • Don’t place lit candles in windows, where they may ignite blinds or curtains.
  • Place candles only in areas where they won’t be knocked over by children or pets.
  • Extinguish taper and pillar candles when they get within two inches of the holder or decorative material.
  • Extinguish votive and filled candles before the last half-inch of wax starts to melt.
Heater Safety

“As we enter into the colder months of the year, heating-related safety is of utmost concern. The majority of fire deaths occur between November and February, and they are often related to inadequate heating systems or improper use,” State Fire Marshal Allen Lorenz said.

Electric Heaters – Electric heaters should have automatic safety switches to turn them off if tipped over. They also should carry the UL approval label.

  • Be sure to check cords before plugging in the heater. If cords are frayed, worn or broken, do not use the heater. Either replace it or have an electrician replace the cord. Just putting tape on the cord is not enough to prevent overheating and fire.
  • Never use extension cords with portable heaters. Using a small, ordinary household extension cord may cause the cord to overheat and ignite.
  • Keep all materials that can burn at least 36 inches away from unit.

Kerosene Heaters – Many kerosene heater-related fires are attributed to misuse. Get started on the right foot by purchasing a heater that carries the UL label, which means it has been tested for safety. Be sure it has an automatic safety switch to shut it off if it’s tipped over. An automatic starter eliminates the need for matches and makes for safer starts. A fuel gauge will help ensure you do not overfill the heater. A safety grill on the front can prevent accidental contact burns. Be sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions for assembly.

  • Use only crystal-clear KI kerosene – never colored or contaminated kerosene, or any other fuel.
  • Fill it only outside. Store kerosene outside in a clearly marked metal container with a tight fitting lid.
  • When using kerosene heaters, be sure the room is well ventilated. Opening a door to an adjoining room or area may be enough. Better yet, slightly open a window in the room.

Wood Heaters – Before investing in a wood stove or other wood burning device for your home, think more about safety than just the efficiency and appearance of the unit. Have your stove installed by a professional. Keep a tight fitting screen or glass doors in front of the stove or fireplace at all times. Special retaining screens can keep children and pets away from wood stoves and prevent burns.

  • Dispose of ashes in metal containers, never in paper bags, cardboard boxes or plastic wastebaskets.
  • Wet ashes to cool them thoroughly. Remember, ashes can retain enough heat to cause a fire for several days, so take no chances.

Although these tips should help prevent a fire, know the signs of danger. A loud roar, sucking sounds and shaking pipes mean your chimney or flue is on fire. If you hear these sounds, get everyone out of the house. Quickly shut off the fire’s air supply by closing any air intake vents in the firebox. Close the damper if possible. Call the fire department from a nearby phone.

Be Fire Smart: Keep Matches and Lighters Away from Children

Montana State Fire Marshal Allen Lorenz says many deadly fires each year are the direct result of children playing with matches and lighters.

“Children do not understand the dangers of fire and are fascinated by its movement and color,” he said.

The United States has one of the highest fire-related death rates in the world, and fire is the second leading cause of accidental death in the home. More than 4,000 people die each year in home fires and 500,000 residential fires occur each year exceeding $4 billion in property loss.

“And each year, more than 200 fire deaths are associated with fires started by cigarette lighters,” Lorenz said. “About two-thirds of these are the result of children playing with lighters.”

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) estimates that about 150 deaths and more than 1,000 injuries each year the result of children under the age of 5 playing with lighters. While youngsters as young as 2 can operate a lighter, the majority of the children who start fires by playing with lighters are ages 3 and 4.

“At these ages, children are curious about fire and do not understand the inherent dangers,” Lorenz said, “and many times, when a child starts a fire, he or she does not tell anyone.”

Since 1994, the CPSC has set a mandatory safety standard that requires disposable lighters to be child-resistant. The standard covers 95 percent of the 600 million lighters purchased in the United States each year.

Lorenz said parents can take steps to keep their children safe.

  • Purchase and use child-resistant lighters only. Remember that these are child-resistant, not childproof.
  • Always keep matches and lighters out of the reach of children.
  • Never use a lighter as a source of amusement for children. It may cause children to think of lighters and matches as toys. Teach children to tell an adult if they find matches or lighters.

“Our office, in partnership with the National Association of State Fire Marshals, wants to help prevent tragedies caused by children playing with fire,” Lorenz said. “Parents who are smart about matches and lighters around the house can help us achieve this critical goal.”

Prevent Burn Injuries to Children

Burns and scalds can be deadly, especially to children under the age of five. Nationally, 600 children die and another 100,000 children are treated for burn-related injuries each year.

“Young children have thinner skin that burns more deeply and quickly. In a matter of seconds, children can sustain devastating physical and emotional injuries,” Lorenz said. “Kitchens and bathrooms can be the most dangerous areas of your home, especially for children, so close supervision is critical.”

The Montana State Fire Marshal’s Office joins with the National Association of State Fire Marshals to offer these burn prevention tips:

  • When cooking, use back burners when possible and keep handles turned to the inside so they don’t stick out over the front of the stove. If left within reach, a curious child might grab the handle and tip the saucepan over onto them.
  • Electrical cords for cooking appliances should be kept away from counter edges to prevent children pulling appliances off counter-tops and onto them.
  • Test bath water before putting your child into the bathtub. Children can be scalded by bath water in only a few seconds. Set your water heater to 120 degrees Fahrenheit or below and always provide supervision.
  • Keep matches and lighters out of children’s reach.
  • Burns should be treated by running cool water over the burned area within the first few minutes of injury.
  • Smoke alarms should be installed on every level and in every sleeping area of your home. Test them once a month and replace batteries when necessary. Newer smoke alarm technology is available with voice recording capabilities to alarm young children of fire, providing a better chance of awakening them in the event of fire.

Families should develop a home escape plan that identifies:

  • two ways out of each room,
  • a meeting place outside, and
  • a way to contact the fire department once you are outside.

Practice the plan regularly – at least once a year – to make sure that everyone knows what to do when the smoke alarm sounds.

Alcohol & Drug Abuse Related to Greater Risk of Fire Death, Especially When Combined with Smoking

Montana State Fire Marshal Allen Lorenz reports that evidence from national studies points to a link between alcohol and drug abuse, and fire injuries and fatalities. When smoking is combined with alcohol use, the risk of fire injuries and fatalities is even greater. Studies have shown that more than half of all alcohol-impaired fire deaths were the result of fires caused by careless smoking. The U.S. Fire Administration reports that smokers consume more alcohol than do non-smokers, heavy drinking tends to be associated with heavy smoking, and a large majority of alcoholics are smokers.

“Most people are aware that smoking is bad for the health of the smoker and the people around the smoker, but they may not be aware of the relationship between smoking and the potential for fire, especially when combined with drinking alcohol,” Lorenz said.

Fires are preventable. Montanans who smoke can improve their safety and protect their families by:

  • making sure their homes are equipped with working smoke alarms and testing those alarms at least monthly;
  • providing a deep-dish ashtray with a solid base, and never allowing it to rest on the arm of upholstered furniture;
  • dousing cigarettes or ashtray contents with water before disposing of them in the trash;
  • being especially careful if alcohol or other drugs are also being used while smoking; and
  • never smoking in bed or allowing other family members or guests to smoke in bed.

They could also install a residential sprinkler system to provide an even safer environment for their family, Lorenz suggested.

Spring Cleaning – Don’t Overlook Clothes Dryer Vents

The State Fire Marshal’s Office encourages Montanans to take some time during their spring cleaning to check for lint build-up in clothes dryer vents and exhaust ducts.

“Oftentimes, lint build-up blocks the flow of air, causing excessive heat that can start a fire,” State Fire Marshal Allen Lorenz said.

To help prevent fires from occurring, Lorenz recommends the following steps:

  • Clean the lint screen/filter before or after drying each load of clothes. If clothing is still damp at the end of a typical drying cycle or drying requires longer times than normal, this may be a sign that the lint screen or the exhaust duct is blocked.
  • Clean the dryer vent and exhaust duct periodically. Check the outside dryer vent while the dryer is operating to make sure exhaust air is escaping. If it is not, the vent or the exhaust duct may be blocked. To remove a blockage in the exhaust path, it may be necessary to disconnect the exhaust duct from the dryer. Remember to reconnect the ducting to the dryer and outside vent before using the dryer again.
  • Clean behind the dryer, where lint can build up. Have a qualified service person clean the interior of the dryer chassis periodically to minimize the amount of lint accumulation. Keep the area around the dryer clean and free of clutter.
  • Replace plastic or foil accordion-type ducting material with rigid or corrugated semi-rigid metal duct. Most manufacturers specify the use of a rigid or corrugated semi-rigid metal duct, which provides maximum airflow. The flexible plastic or foil type duct can more easily trap lint and is more susceptible to kinks or crushing, which can greatly reduce airflow.
  • Take special care when drying clothes that have been soiled with volatile chemicals such as gasoline, cooking oils, cleaning agents, or finishing oils and stains. If possible, wash the clothing more than once to minimize the amount of volatile chemicals on the clothes and, preferably, hang the clothes to dry. If using a dryer, use the lowest heat setting and a drying cycle that has a cool-down period at the end of the cycle. To prevent clothes from igniting after drying, do not leave the dried clothes in the dryer or piled in a laundry basket.

Vehicle Arson

According to 2004 data from the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) and the U.S. Fire Administration (USFA), arson is the second most prevalent cause of vehicle fires. Vehicle fires account for almost one third of all arson fires. According to national statistics from 2004, there were 36,000 intentionally set vehicle fires in the U.S., which resulted in $165 million in property damage.

“Vehicle arson is an expensive crime and the public pays the price,” Montana State Fire Marshal Allen Lorenz said. “Insurance premiums for everyone increase as a result.”

Vehicle arson may be committed by auto thieves to destroy evidence or by someone trying to destroy DNA evidence to cover up a more serious crime. Or it may be committed for financial gain by someone trying to eliminate a costly car payment or lease.

Citizens can take an active role in helping prevent vehicle arson fires by following these tips provided by the USFA:

  • Park your car in a well-lit area.
  • If you must park a vehicle for an extended period, use a secure parking lot.
  • Close all windows.
  • Remove the key from the ignition.
  • Always lock the doors, trunk and tailgate.
  • Use antitheft devices.
  • Report abandoned cars to the police.

Use Caution When Using and Storing Gasoline and Propane

Montana State Fire Marshal Allen Lorenz urges Montanans to be especially careful when using gas and propane in their barbecues, lawn mowers and other gas- or propane-fueled equipment.

Gasoline safety tips:

  • Keep gasoline out of children’s sight and reach. Children should never handle gasoline.
  • If fire does start while handling gasoline, do not attempt to extinguish the fire or stop the flow of gasoline. Leave the area immediately, and call for help.
  • Do not use or store gasoline near possible ignition sources, such as electrical devices, oil-or gas-fired appliances, or any other device that contains a pilot flame or a spark.
  • Store gasoline outside the home in a garage or lawn shed, in a tightly closed metal or plastic container approved by an independent testing laboratory or your local or state fire authorities. Never store gasoline in glass containers or non-reusable plastic containers such as milk jugs.
  • Store only as much gasoline as is necessary to power equipment, and let machinery cool before refueling it.
  • Never use gasoline inside the home or as a cleaning agent.
  • Clean up spills promptly and discard clean-up materials properly.
  • Do not smoke when handling gasoline.
  • Never use gasoline in place of kerosene.
  • Only fill portable gasoline containers outdoors. Place the container on the ground before filling and never fill containers inside a vehicle or in the bed of a pick-up truck.
  • Follow all manufacturers instructions when using electronic devices (those with batteries or connected to an electrical outlet) near gasoline.

Propane safety tips:

  • Handle any propane-powered equipment cautiously and always follow the manufacturer’s instructions. Cylinder tanks for equipment such as stoves and ovens must be located outside of the home.
  • Never store or use propane gas cylinders larger than one pound inside the home.
  • Never operate a propane-powered gas grill inside the home.
  • Have propane gas equipment inspected periodically by a professional for possible leaks or malfunctioning parts.
  • Carefully follow the manufacturer’s instructions when lighting a pilot.
  • If you smell a strong odor of gas, leave the area immediately and call the fire department from outside the home.