JOINT BASE LANGLEY-EUSTIS, Va. --
The 633d Civil Engineer Squadron Fire & Emergency Services flight is teaming up with the National Fire Protection Association and the U.S. Fire Administration to help reduce the risk of winter fires and other hazards, including carbon monoxide and electrical fires.
As a team, they are promoting this year’s Winter Fires Awareness campaign, “Put a Freeze on Winter Fires,” which educates everyone about simple but important actions to keep themselves and those around them safe.
According to the NFPA, there are approximately 45,000 residential electrical fires each year. During the months of the Winter Fires Awareness campaign, children, adults and teachers learn how to stay safe when conditions are very cold and learn how appliances that produce heat are safely used. In addition, firefighters provide lifesaving public education in an effort to drastically decrease casualties caused by these types of fires.
Electrical fires are a leading cause of residential fires in the U.S. Roughly half of all home electrical fires involved electrical distribution or lighting equipment, while nearly another half involved other known types of equipment like washer, dryer, fans and portable or stationary space heaters.
“It’s important to understand the correct ways to use electrical equipment, generators and candles during the winter months,” said Mr. William Roland, 633d CES fire inspector. “If these items aren’t used correctly it could cause a devastating outcome.”
Most of the United States is at risk for winter storms, which can cause dangerous and sometimes life-threatening conditions. Blinding wind-driven snow, extreme cold, icy road conditions, downed trees, and power lines can all wreak havoc on daily schedules.
Every year between 2015 and 2019, an average of 7,400 residential candle fires were reported. To stay safe, keep candles at least 12 inches away from anything that burns.
Fires aren’t the only thing homeowners need to watch out for this winter. While portable generators are useful during power outages, many homeowners are unaware that the improper use of portable generators can be risky. The most common dangers associated with portable generators are carbon monoxide poisoning, electrical shock and fire hazards.
Often called the invisible killer, carbon monoxide is an odorless, colorless gas created when gasoline, wood, coal and propane do not burn completely. In the home, heating and cooking equipment that burn fuel are potential sources of carbon monoxide. As a result, carbon monoxide incidents are more common during the winter months and in residential properties.
“Make sure everyone in the home understands the proper usage of electrical equipment and knows how to respond if a fire does happen because of one,” Roland said. “To learn the sounds of your specific smoke and carbon monoxide alarms, check the manufacturer’s instructions that came in the box, or search the brand and model online.”
As you stay cozy and warm this winter, stay fire smart! People with difficulty in hearing might need additional safety considerations such as specially made smoke alarms and alert devices. These devices include strobe lights that flash to alert individuals when the smoke alarm sounds. Pillow or bed shakers are designed to work with your smoke alarm by shaking the pillow or bed when the smoke alarm sounds. These products can be found online and in stores that sell smoke and carbon monoxide alarms. It’s also good practice to sleep with your mobile phone and hearing aids or implants close to the bed.
A portable fire extinguisher can save lives and property by putting out a small fire or containing it until the fire department arrives. Portable fire extinguishers do have limitations since fire grows and spreads so rapidly. The number one priority for residents is to get out safely.
To operate a fire extinguisher, remember the word PASS:
- Pull the pin. Hold the extinguisher with the nozzle pointing away from you, and release the locking mechanism.
- Aim low. Point the extinguisher at the base of the fire.
- Squeeze the lever slowly and evenly.
- Sweep the nozzle from side-to-side.
The Langley Fire & Emergency Services Flight encourages all residents to embrace the 2022 Fire Prevention Week theme, “Put a Freeze on Winter Fires.” To find out more about the Winter Fires Awareness campaign, please contact the Langley AFB Fire Department at (757)-764-4222 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. To learn more about “Put a Freeze on Winter Fires”, visit NFPA’s website at www.nfpa.org/winter.