The Ocean County Fire Marshal’s Office would like to wish everyone a safe Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, and Succahs. As we have in the past we would like to provide some fire safety tips for the upcoming 2013 Jewish holiday season.
One of the most important issues is stoves and ovens being left on and causing a potential buildup of Carbon Monoxide in your residence sickening the occupants and residents.
Carbon Monoxide is an odorless, colorless and potentially deadly gas causing headaches, dizziness, redness in the face, nausea, and flu like symptoms. The risk is intensified because the modern houses today are better insulated with fewer air leaks than in the past and with the air conditioning on, windows are usually kept closed.
Because of those dangers, the Orthodox Union’s Safe Homes, Safe Shuls, and Safe Schools initiative and we issue warnings before the holidays, such as Passover and Chanukah, when the use of fire and cooking is part of the tradition. With these observances and there length, the risks of CO poisoning are great. We urge families while out preparing for the holidays to start, that they purchase and replace their Smoke/Carbon Monoxide (CO) alarm batteries prior to the holidays. We have provided some guidelines for carbon monoxide safety:
• All homes must have working CO detectors. We recommend electric plug in models with a display and battery backup or a battery operated one. A basic battery operated unit is adequate however. We recommend at least one on each level of the house.
• IMMEDIATELY CALL THE FIRE DEPARTMENT OR 911 IF YOUR SMOKE/CO ALARM GOES OFF! The Lakewood Fire Department will respond quickly to check your home 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 alternative to the stove is a UL listed electric hot plate with a timer to shut on and off, which has no flame, and so does not produce CO.
• Another alternative is a UL listed electric crock pot, which is insulated, reduces the chance of someone burning themselves and does not produce CO.
• Another alternative is an electric stove with a warming drawer. This would keep food warm without generating CO.
• There should be a one-foot non-combustible area around the stove, crock-pot, or electric hot plate.
• 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.
• A future solution would be an electric stove that would turn on and off during the Sabbath and holidays as needed.
As you continue to prepare for the holidays besides the above-mentioned safety issues about cooking we ask that you keep the following in mind:
1. Candles – As candles are set up 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, 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 it shuts off.
3. Power – Do not overload outlets or run extension cords through doors or windows to the succah.
4. Succahs – As you install your succah please be aware that the vegetation you use for the top of the succah can be extremely dry. We would ask that you use a safer top covering for the succah if at all possible.
5. Electric lights – Do not place high wattage lights next to thatch or anything else flammable in the succah.
6. 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.
7. 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.
8. Dryers – Please check your lint traps as well as the exhaust duct from the dryer to the outside for lint buildup. [TLS]