Fire Marshal’s Office Offers Winter & Chanukah Safety Tips

The Office of the Ocean County Fire Marshal would like to wish everyone a safe Hanukkah for 2012. As Hanukkah begins, we would like to offer some reminders on fire safety:   

One of the most important issues are stoves and ovens being left “On” causing a potential buildup of Carbon Monoxide in your residence. Carbon Monoxide is an odorless, colorless and potentially deadly gas causing headaches, dizziness, redness in the face, nausea, and flu like symptoms.

Because of those dangers, we along with the Orthodox Union’s Safe Homes, Safe Shuls, Safe Schools initiative issue warnings before the holidays when the use of fire is part of the tradition. The risk of CO poisoning is an area of concern due to several incidents over the years sending families and friends to the hospital for CO poisonings. We urge families to replace their Smoke/Carbon Monoxide alarm batteries prior to the holidays and provide some guidelines for carbon monoxide safety:

• All homes must have working CO detectors. We recommend the electric plug in models with a display and battery backup or battery operated ones. A basic unit is adequate however. We recommend at least one on each level.
• IMMEDIATELY CALL THE FIRE DEPARTMENT OR 911 IF YOUR SMOKE/CO ALARM GOES OFF! The fire department will respond quickly to check homes with multi-gas meters and remove the CO.
• Your house should have the hood above your stove vented to the outside. A hood that vents back into the kitchen will not help reduce CO.
• An alternate to the stove is an electric hot plate with a timer to shut on and off, UL listed, which has no flame, so does not produce CO.
• An electric crock pot, UL listed, is another alternative, which is insulated and reduces the chance of someone burning themselves.
• You should have a one-foot non-combustible area around the stove and crock-pot.
• NEVER use an extension cord with these devices! They require too many amps and could cause a fire. The above devices should be plugged directly into an outlet.
• If you must operate a stove, leave a window open near the stove at least one fist (approximately 4 inches), with a second window open at the opposite side of the house. This will allow some cross ventilation and a supply of fresh air.
• An electric stove with a warming drawer is another solution. This would keep food warm without generating CO.
• A future solution would be an electric stove that would turn on and off during the Sabbath and holidays as needed. The community is always looking for manufacturers who are willing to work with us. 

As you continue to prepare for the holiday remember to think about the approaching winter season, besides the above-mentioned safety issues we ask that you keep the following in mind: 

  1. Candles  – As candles are set up please in the menorahs please keep draperies and other combustible materials away and extinguish candle(s) when leaving the house. While lighting candles make sure an adult supervises or assists any child lighting them.
  2. Heaters – Make sure any heating device is UL listed and approved. If you must use an electric heater or other type of space heater make sure it meets the proper clearances and ventilation as required by the manufacturer and keep away from combustible materials such as paper, bedding materials, drapes, and furniture. Also make sure it has a tip over feature in case it gets knocked over to shut “Off”.  We recommend to have your heater furnace cleaned and serviced by a reputable service company to prevent any malfunctions or Carbon Monoxide (CO) issues during the winter months. 
  1. Power – Do not overload outlets or run extension cords through doors or windows in your houses.
  2. Generators – If you need to use a generator for a power outage “Do not use it inside the building or house” where it will cause a Carbon Monoxide (CO) buildup from the exhaust. Keep it away from any windows or doors for the same reason. Do not refuel it while it is running, let it cool down and then refuel it.
  3. Bathroom exhaust fans – We have seen many bathroom ceiling exhaust fan fires in the last several years. The fans are designed for use when the bathroom is in use. We understand they are left on for Shabbos for 24 hours or longer on holidays. Since that is the case we ask that you check them periodically for lint and dirt buildup and make sure they are working properly to prevent them from overheating due to their extended usage.
  4. Fires – If you have a fire get out, stay out, and call 911 immediately. Do not try to put the fire out yourself. If the fire is in a room with a door, close the door on the way out. If the item on fire is movable do not try to move it to the outside because once it gets more air the item may reignite and cause more damage or trapped you inside the building or causing you to get burned.
  5. Dryers – Please check your lint traps as well as the exhaust duct from the dryer to the outside for lint buildup.       
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