Fire Prevention


INSPECTION SERVICES

The mission of the Pasadena Fire Department Fire Prevention and Environmental Safety Division is to prevent injury to people and prevent damage to the natural and built environment within the City of Pasadena. We use a customer-centered approach to public education, plan review, code development, and inspections, which is designed to prevent harm to our community. We support the success of all Department employees through sound financial practices, staff support, and personnel services.

The fire department is responsible for the safety and preservation of the built environment. We inspect new buildings for compliance with the plans that were approved to code. We inspect approved changes to existing buildings. We conduct periodic inspections of all business, public assembly, school and multi-family residential occupancies. We also conduct annual brush clearance inspections during the spring and summer.

The following guidelines are to be adhered to:

Candles

  • The use of candles in any occupancy classified as a public assembly requires a permit.
  • The diameter of the base should be at least one-half the height of the candle.
  • The use of legs is not permitted unless the holder is stable.
  • The flame shall be enclosed, with the following exceptions:
    • Openings on the side shall not be more than 3/8 inch in diameter.
    • Openings on the top shall not exceed two inches in diameter.
    • There shall be a minimum of two inches between the top of the flame and top of the shade of chimney.
  • The candle must be securely attached to the base.
  • The shade or chimney must be securely attached.
  • Any base, attached display, shade or chimney must be of non-combustible materials.
  • Holders shall be constructed to prevent the spilling of wax.
  • A model or picture must be submitted to the Fire Prevention Bureau for approval.
  • The Fire Chief is authorized to halt the use of candles is such candles are determined to constitute a hazardous condition.
  • Candles shall not be left unattended when lit.
  • Hand held candles shall not be permitted.
  • The use of candles may require a standby fire safety officer.
  • Permits are not required for battery operated simulated candles.

Requirements for candles used in religious ceremonies

  • Candles used in churches and similar places of worship shall be limited to areas out of reach by those not associated with the religious ceremony.
  • Candelabra shall be secured in a fashion to prevent being tipped over.
  • Candelabra shall be high enough that clothing cannot come in contact with lit candles.
  • The use of candles may require a standby fire safety officer.
  • Permits are not required for battery operated simulated candles.

Requirements for open flame devices

  • The use of open flame devices in any occupancy classified as a Public Assembly requires a permit.
  • Class I and Class II liquids are prohibited.
  • There shall be no means to adjust the height.
  • Liquid or solid fuel devices must self extinguish when tipped over.
  • All materials within six inches of the open flame device shall be non-combustible.
  • Fuel canisters shall be securely contained within a holder or affixed so as to prevent being tipped over.
  • The use of open flame devices may require a standby fire safety officer.
  • The Fire Chief is authorized to halt the use of open flame is such open flame devices are determined to be a hazard.
  • Open flame devices shall not be left unattended when lit.

Thank you for taking the time to review theses guidelines. Please keep in mind that these are only guidelines and individuals are responsible to check with the Fire Department to obtain all necessary permits and pay any fees. For an open flame permit, contact the Fire Prevention Bureau:

Pasadena Fire Department
Fire Prevention Bureau
175 N. Garfield Avenue
Pasadena, CA 91101
Map and Directions >>

Special Events Inspector
Ph: (626) 744-7049
Fax: (626) 585-9466

 

Residents can call the fire department to report any conditions they feel are hazardous and a Complaint Inspection Request will be filled out. If they wish, they may leave their contact information or they may remain anonymous. The time and date of the call are recorded, as well as the name of the person taking the complaint. The caller will be asked to give the address of the complaint location along with a brief description of the conditions they feel pose a fire hazard. The information collected is then faxed to the station that inspects that district.

Procedure:

  • Upon receipt of Complaint Inspection Request form, the station should schedule an inspection based on the request description and ability to complete it. Should the shift on duty not be able to complete the inspection, it should be left for the next shift to complete. (All Complaint Inspection Request should be completed within 7 days)
  • Once the inspection is completed, the ‘Report of Action Taken’ should be filled out, and then signed and dated by the inspector. If needed and available ‘Owner Information’ should obtained. The completed “Complaint Inspection Request Form” should then be sent back to FESD.
  • If a violation is issued, a copy of the violation should be sent with the completed Complaint Inspection Request form to the Fire and Environmental Safety Division.

Proper re-inspection should be completed for all issued violations. If there is non-compliance after the re-inspection is should be referred to the Fire and Environmental Safety Division.

“Flammable weeds, trees or vegetation” or “flammable vegetation” shall mean those weeds, trees and vegetation which, because of reduced moisture content, concentration or location, are combustible to a degree sufficient to accelerate, spread or intensify a fire. Pasadena Municipal Code Sec. 14.29.020

Standards:

  • Remove all dead trees and keep grasses and weeds mowed within 200 feet of any structure, 10 feet of any combustible fence and 10 feet of any street, alley or driveway, whether publicly or privately owned.
  • All trees within 30 feet of any structure or within 10 feet of any street, alley or driveway, whether publicly or privately owned shall be kept free of combustible ground cover, twigs and braches within 3 feet of the ground. Living evergreen trees are excluded.
  • All trees and shrubs shall be kept free of dead foliage.
  • No vegetation shall be located within 10 feet of any chimney opening, (chimney spark arrester) whether or not the fireplace is in use.
  • The roofs of all structures shall be kept free of twigs, needles, eaves and other combustible foreign matter.
  • A vertical clearance of 5 feet shall be maintained between the roof of any structure and any surrounding foliage.
  • No flammable vegetation will be permitted to cling or be attached. Pasadena Municipal Code Sec. 14.29.040
  • No vegetation shall be permitted to grow over any street or alley less than a height of 13.5 feet from the edge of the street or alley. Pasadena Municipal Code Sec. 14.29.040
  • All address numbers shall be no less than 4 inches high and 2 inches wide and will not be hidden from view by trees, bushed or shrubs. Pasadena Municipal Code Sec. 14.20.040
  • It is unlawful for any person to maintain property in such a manner that the following conditions exist: The accumulation of litter, salvage materials, discarded furniture, the storage of dismantled non-operational vehicles and nuisances that are dangerous to children. Pasadena Municipal Code Sec. 14.50.040
  • Street numbers, abandoned vehicles and discarded junk are common problems found when conducting brush surveys. Familiarize yourself with the Online Municipal Code

Downloads:

High-rise structure

Every building of any type of construction or occupancy having floors used for human occupancy located more than 75 feet above the lowest floor level having building access, except buildings used as hospitals as defined in H&S Code Section 1250.

Existing High-Rise Structure

A high-rise structure, the construction of which is commenced or completed prior to July 1, 1974.

New High-Rise Structure

A high-rise structure, the construction of which is commenced on or after July 1, 1974.

High-Rise Building Access

An exterior door opening conforming to all of the following:

  1. Suitable and available for fire department use.
  2. Located not more than 2 feet above adjacent ground level.
  3. Leading to a space, room or area having foot traffic communication capabilities with the remainder of the building.
  4. Designed to permit penetration through the use of fire department forcible entry tools and equipment unless other approved arrangements have been made with the fire authority having jurisdiction.

LIFE SAFETY SURVEYS

All Pasadena Fire companies will conduct Fire Life Safety Inspection every 60 days or as conditions warrant such as holidays and special events. Each shift shall list all “A” occupancies inspections on their Monthly Activity Report Form PFD2004MAR.

The fire company will also complete the Life Safety Survey Form PFD2004LSS as part of their inspection. The Life Safety Survey Form will by kept with the station/shift fire prevention files.

Download the Life Safety Survey Inspection Notice below:

Goal:

  • To reduce and work to eliminate unwanted and unnecessary fire system activations.
  • Discretion of company officer

Description:

The purpose of the Nuisance Alarm Program is to encourage business owners and fire alarm companies to properly use and maintain the operational effectiveness of fire alarm systems in order to improve the reliability and reduce or eliminate nuisance alarms. This program governs fire alarm systems intended to summon fire department personnel. It gives the fire department the ability to assess a fee for excessive false alarms and nuisance alarms within a calendar year.

A false alarm or nuisance alarm means the activation of any fire alarm system, which results in the response by the fire department, caused by mechanical failure, malfunction, malicious intent, improper installation, lack of proper maintenance or any response for which the fire department personnel are unable to determine the apparent cause of the fire alarm activation. In addition, it covers responses caused by negligent action on the part of building occupants, owners, security personnel, maintenance workers or other contact workers hired by the building owners or occupants.

No fee shall be assessed for the first three (3) false alarms at the same premise responded to by the fire department during each calendar year. Thereafter, the owner shall pay a fee that has been mandated by the City of Pasadena City Council.

Procedures: Fire False Alarm or Nuisance Fire Alarm

  1. In the event the on scene fire official deems the activation of the fire alarm system a false alarm or nuisance alarm, the building owner or responsible party shall be served with a Notice of Nuisance Alarm.
    • If for any reason, the building owner or responsible party is not present at the time of activations the fire company shall conduct a follow up inspection to the location during normal business hours to meet with the building owner or responsible party.
    • The Notice of Nuisance Alarm should include:
    • Correct Location of Alarm
    • Incident Number
    • Time of Alarm
    • Fire Company Responded
    • Type of Alarm NFIRS Codes
    • Brief Narrative
    • Signature of Company Officer
  2. Notice of Nuisance Alarm. Routing
    • Copy to owner/responsible party/left on scene
    • Copy to Fire Company Station File
    • Copy sent to Fire and Environmental Safety Division

Download the Nuisance Alarm Inspection Notice below:

  • A occupancies
  • B occupancies in buildings not classified as high-rise (under 75 feet)
  • E occupancies
  • H occupancies
  • I occupancies
  • M occupancies in buildings not classified as high-rise (under 75 feet)
  • R occupancies (R-1 only) in buildings not classified as high-rise (under 75 feet)

Download a detailed list of Occupancy Types below:

OCCUPANCY NOTIFICATIONS

OCCUPANCY FORMS

All fees represented in this calculation work sheet are for fire department plan review only and do not include permit fees for the project. For permit fees, contact (626) 744-6885 and request the total fire department fee amounts for your project.

Click here to view Fee Schedule

Property owners wanting to provide access for the Fire Department may purchase and install one of many difference secure key boxes, known as Knox Boxes.  In certain circumstance, property owners may be required to provide a Knox Box for their property.  In the past, individuals wanting to purchase Knox Rapid Entry System products were required to obtain a signed form from the Pasadena Fire Dept.  Now, property owners in Pasadena are allowed to use Knox’s online eApproval process from any web browser.

It’s as easy as:

Step 1 – Visit www.knoxbox.com .  Select the GREEN ShoppingCart / Place Order link.
Step 2 – Select the product series category from the menu on the left.
Step 3 – Enter “Pasadena F” in the Department search field and select “Pasadena Fire Department” from the returned list.
Step 4 – Select product for purchase, enter installation address, and proceed with checkout or eApproval.

Once you submit your order for eApproval, the request will be forwarded to the Pasadena Fire Department where it will be reviewed.  If it is denied, you will receive an explanation.  If it is approved, you will continue to complete and pay for the order.  Once you receive and install your Knox product, gather an extra key or keys and contact Fire Prevention at 626-744-4288 for an appointment to lock your keys securely in the Knox Box, where they will remain safe and secure until needed by the Fire Department during an emergency.

Hazardous Materials

A hazardous material is a material that, in any quantity, poses a threat to life, health or property. More than four billion tons of materials classified as hazardous are shipped throughout the United States each year.

Hazardous materials commonly shipped in the United States include:

  • Explosives (materials that combust or detonate)
  • Compressed Gases (pressurized, poisonous, flammable or nonflammable gas)
  • Flammable Liquids (those with a flash point of less than 100 degrees Fahrenheit)
  • Combustible Liquids (those with a flash point greater than 100 degrees Fahrenheit)
  • Flammable Solids (solid material that burns vigorously and can be ignited readily)
  • Oxidizers (substances that give off oxygen or act like oxygen and stimulate combustion)
  • Corrosives (materials that destroy metal and skin)
  • Radioactive Materials

All incidents involving hazardous materials are true emergencies and you should call 9-1-1 immediately.

The general rule in working with hazardous materials is to act quickly and to isolate and deny entry (access). Time is critical, but do not act so quickly that you endanger yourself and others at the scene. Call 9-1-1 immediately. Secure the scene and limit exposure to anyone. Do not try any rescue efforts. Wait for the fire department to arrive on the scene.

If a motorist is the first on the scene of an incident involving a vehicle carrying hazardous materials, 9-1-1 should be called immediately. Remember – stay upwind and on a higher terrain than the incident site, and prevent others from entering the hazardous area when possible.

It is very important that motorists, their passengers and all bystanders avoid converging on the scene. Move to a safe area and ensure there is clear access for the Fire Department and other emergency responders. Evacuation of the area is critical because of the potential occurrences of fires, explosions and exposures. In many instances, crowds gathering around the scene of an incident interfere with emergency vehicle rescue operations.

The Hazardous Materials Business Plan (HMBP) program was established by the State in 1986, and is implemented within Pasadena by the Fire Department. Its purpose is to prevent or minimize the damage to public health and safety and the environment, from a release or threatened release of hazardous materials. It also satisfies community right-to-know laws. This is accomplished by requiring businesses that handle hazardous materials to:

  • Inventory their hazardous materials
  • Develop a site map
  • Develop an emergency plan
  • Implement a training program for employees

Businesses must submit this information electronically to the statewide information management system (California Environmental Reporting System, or CERS).

Businesses within the City of Pasadena are required to report all hazardous materials regardless of the quantity.

All reporting by businesses for inventory changes, ownership changes, contact updates or other information must take place through CERS at http://cers.calepa.ca.gov/.

The Hazardous Materials Section may be reached at (626) 744-4115.

Requirements for construction plans

Any modifications, installations or repairs to your UST system (including all like-for-like changes) will require a permit.  Other projects that will also require a permit include the following:

What you need to apply for permits for UST installations or modifications

  1. Three sets of plans.
    1. Plans should include at a minimum, a site plan, scope of work, site specific detail of work to be done, and equipment list
    2. Plans should be no larger than 11” x 17” in size
    3. All drawings must be site specific. Generic drawings will not be approved.
  2. All necessary ICC and manufacturers certifications
  3. Current Pasadena Business License
  4. Current Contractors License (C61/D40 licenses issued after January 18, 2001 cannot perform any construction work on UST systems)
  5. Permit fee – due upon pick up of plans.

Submit plans to:
Pasadena Fire Department
Hazardous Materials Section
215 N. Marengo Ave., Suite 195
Pasadena, CA 91101

  • Plans can be submitted to Kim Yu, Hazardous Materials Inspector

Scheduling an inspection and/or testing notifications

Agency notifications must be made within 48 hours of test date and time.  In Pasadena, we witness all required UST testing. Hence, notifications must be confirmed and coordinated with the Hazardous Materials Inspector.  It is suggested to notify and schedule at least 2 weeks in advance of test date to ensure that you get the date and time you desire.

You can schedule an inspection by sending an email to Kim Yu, Hazardous Materials Inspector at:  kyu@cityofpasadena.net.

You can also schedule an inspection and test date via phone at 626-744-7193.

Submitting test results

The Owner/Operator of a UST site must submit all test results within 30 days of test date.  Failure to submit results within this required time will result in the test being void, and the system will have to be re-tested.

You can submit test results using the following methods:

  1. Email
  2. Mail
    • You can mail all test results to the following address:

Pasadena Fire Department
Hazardous Materials Section
215 N. Marengo Ave., Suite   195
Pasadena, CA 91101

  1. CERS
    • You can upload your test results under “Miscellaneous Regulatory Documents” in the Underground Storage Tank section on the CERS website.

The California Accidental Release Prevention (CalARP) program was implemented on January 1, 1997 and replaced the California Risk Management and Prevention Program (RMPP). The purpose of the CalARP program is to prevent accidental releases of substances that can cause serious harm to the public and the environment, to minimize the damage if releases do occur, and to satisfy community right-to-know laws. This is accomplished by requiring businesses that handle more than a threshold quantity of a regulated substance (formerly known as extremely hazardous substances) listed in the regulations to develop a Risk Management Plan (RMP). RMPs are generally only required of major manufacturing facilities like plating shops or refineries. An RMP is a detailed engineering analysis of the potential accident factors present at a business and the mitigation measures that can be implemented to reduce this accident potential. The RMP contains:

• Safety information
• A hazard review
• Operating procedures
• Training requirements
• Maintenance requirements
• Compliance audits
• Incident investigation procedures

The CalARP program is implemented within in Pasadena by the Fire Department. In order to review and comment on CalARP RMPs or other documents, contact the Hazardous Materials Section to make an appointment by calling (626) 744-4115.

September 2017

View All Entries

Comment Period Dates Address CALARP Process Site Name Comment Status

Requests generally require up to two weeks to complete, but will be sent as soon as they are completed. Requests requiring significant research and/or multiple sites may take longer than two weeks. Requests are processed strictly in the order received. The fee for a records search is $.15 per page provided, plus postage. Maps indicating the specific location of hazardous materials, materials covered by trade secret protections, and other materials protected by law will not be provided. All reports will be mailed by US Mail unless otherwise directed. Invoice will be sent with file and is due upon receipt. Requests may be also faxed to (626) 585-9466.

HAZMAT RECORDS REQUESTS
City
State/Province
Zip/Postal
Sending

Hazardous materials are not only found in businesses and factories, we all use them every day at home. Many cleaners, pesticides, home maintenance, pool care, and other products are the same materials, and just as hazardous, as the highly regulated hazardous materials used by businesses.

Household Hazardous Wastes (HHW) are what we call those hazardous materials that we all use at home when we no longer need them. HHWs may not be thrown in the trash! Throwing your household hazardous wastes in the trash is just as illegal as if a business was doing it. To properly deal with HHW, follow these guidelines:

Reduce – Reduce the amount of hazardous materials you buy, or choose less hazardous or non-hazardous alternatives.
Reuse – Use up what you buy. Buying in bulk may cost less per ounce, but it still costs you more in the long run if you don’t use it up! Disposal of HHWs can cost many times more than the purchase price. We all pay for HHW disposal through our trash fees and taxes. If you use it up, there’s little or no waste.
Recycle – If you can’t use it, maybe someone else can. If you can’t use a material any more, maybe a neighbor or a local charity can
If you’re still stuck with HHW, then you can take it to a Household Hazardous Waste Roundup where professionals will collect, consolidate, recycle and properly dispose of your waste for you. These events are for Household wastes only, not businesses. You can find the current schedule for the free LA County HHW Roundups at http://www.lacsd.org/HHW/HHWFLIER.htm. Also listed on that page is information about the free Permanent Collection Sites which are operated by LA City and available for all County residents, as well.

If you are a Pasadena or LA County Resident and you need to dispose of household hazardous waste, please contact the Pasadena Department of Public Works.

For more information, you can also visit:

Fire Investigation

The Arson Investigator is responsible for investigating and analyzing fire and explosion incidents and rendering opinions as to origin and cause, development, responsibility, and prevention of such incidents. He is involved in the arrest and conviction of persons criminally liable for incendiary fires and fraudulent activities related to the enforcement of fire regulations. Additionally, the Investigator is involved in the enforcement of fireworks restrictions, special assigned complaint inspections, and issuance of citations for violations of the California Fire Code, Health and Safety Code, and Pasadena Municipal Code.

Investigator Wendell Eaton
215 N. Marengo Avenue, #195
Pasadena, CA 91101
weaton@cityofpasadena.net

Investigator Wendell Eaton

Investigator Wendell Eaton is responsible for investigating all arson related matters

Home Safety

Below you will find information on what you can do to be prepared for emergencies and how to keep your home safe.

 

 

  • Recovering from a fire may take a long time and many of the things you have to do will be new to you. If you are not insured, your recovery from a fire loss most likely will be dependent upon your own resources.

    The Pasadena Fire Department may be able to help you. Call (626) 744-4655.

    Private organizations that can help include the American Red Cross and the Salvation Army. You also could talk with your church or synagogue.  Local civic groups such as the Lions or Rotary Clubs also can be of help.

    Insurance Information

    If you are insured, your insurance will be the most important single component in recovering from a fire loss. A number of coverage’s are available such as – homeowner’s, tenant’s or condominium owner’s insurance policies.

    Your insurance policy is a contract between you and the insurer. The insurer promises to do certain things for you. In turn, you have certain obligations. Among your duties after a fire loss would be to give immediate notice of the loss to the insurance company or the insurer’s agent.

    Protect the property from further damage by making sensible or necessary repairs such as covering holes in the roof or walls. Take reasonable precautions against loss, such as draining water lines in winter if the house will be unheated for some time. The insurance company may refuse to pay losses that occur from not taking such reasonable care.

    Make an inventory of damaged personal property showing in detail the quantity, description, original purchase price, purchase date, damage estimate and replacement cost.

    Cooperate with the insurer or his/her adjuster by exhibiting the damaged property.

    Submit, within a stated time period (usually 30 – 60 days), a formal statement of loss. Such a statement should include:

    • The time and cause of loss
    • The names and addresses of those who have an interest in the property. These might include the mortgage holder, a separated or divorced spouse or a lien holder.
    • Building plans and specifications of the original home and a detailed estimate for repairs.
    • The damage inventory mentioned above.
    • Receipts for additional living expenses and loss of use claims.

    Valuing Your Property

    A pre-fire inventory along with a videotape of all your property could prove to be a valuable record when making your claim.

    When adjusting your fire loss or in claiming a casualty loss on your Federal income tax, you will have to deal with various viewpoints on the value of your property. Some terms used are listed below:

    • Your “personal valuation” is your attachment to and personal valuation of your property lost in a fire. Personal items have a certain sentimental value. This term is not meant to belittle their value to you but is used to separate feelings about the value from objective measures of value. It will be objective measures of value which you, the insurer, and the Internal Revenue Service will use as a common ground.
    • The “cost when purchased” is an important element in establishing an item’s final value. Receipts will help verify the cost price.
    • Fair market value before the fire also is expressed as “actual cash value.” This is what you could have gotten for the item if you had sold it the day before the fire. Its price would reflect its cost at purchase and the wear it had sustained since then. Depreciation is the formal term to express the amount of value an item loses over a period of time.
    • “Value after the fire” is sometimes called the item’s “salvage value.”
    • The cost to replace the item with a like, but not necessarily identical, item is the replacement cost.

    Adjusting The Loss

    “Loss adjustment” is the process of establishing the value of the damaged property. This is the result of a joint effort among a number of parties. Basic parties to the process are the owner or occupant and the insurance company and its representatives.

    The owner or occupant is required by the insurance contract to prepare an inventory and cooperate in the loss valuation process. An insurance agent may act as the adjuster if the loss is small. The insurer may send an adjuster who is a permanent member of the insurer’s staff, or the company may hire an independent adjuster to act in its behalf. It is the insurance adjuster’s job, as a representative of the insurance company, to monitor and assist in the loss valuation process and to bring the loss to a just and equitable settlement.

    Either you or the insurer may hire the services of a fire damage restoration firm or fire damage service company. These firms provide a range of services that may include some or all of the following:

      • Securing the site against further damage
      • Estimating structural damage
      • Repairing structural damage
      • Estimating the cost to repair or renew items of personal property
      • Packing, transportation, and storage of household items
      • Securing appropriate cleaning or repair subcontractors
      • Storing repaired items until needed

    It is important to coordinate with the insurance adjuster before contracting for any services. If you invade the insurer’s responsibility area by contracting without its knowledge or consent, you may be left with bills to pay that otherwise would have been covered by the insurer.

     

  •  

    Replacement Of Valuable Documents And Records

     

    Item Who To Contact
    Replacement of Valuable Documents and Records Table
    Driver’s license Local department of motor vehicle
    Bank books Your bank, as soon as possible
    Insurance policies Your insurance agent
    Military discharge papers Local Veterans Administration
    Passports Local Passport Office
    Birth, Death, Marriage Certificates State Bureau of Records
    Divorce papers Circuit Court where decree was issued
    Social Security or Medicare cards Local Social Security Office
    Credit Cards The issuing companies, A.S.A.P.
    Titles to deeds Records department of city or county
    Stocks and bonds Issuing company or your broker
    Wills Your lawyer
    Medical records Your doctor
    Warranties Issuing company
    Income tax records The Internal Revenue Service Center
    Auto registration title Department of Motor Vehicles
    Citizenship papers Immigration and Naturalization Service
    Prepaid burial contracts Issuing company
    Animal registration papers Society of registry

     

  •  

    Salvage Hints

    •  Clothing – Smoke odor and soot sometimes can be washed from clothing. The following formula often will work for clothing that can be bleached:4-6 tbsp. of Tri-Sodium Phosphate
      l cup Lysol or any household chlorine bleach
      l gallon warm waterMix well, add clothes, rinse with clear water and dry well.Be aware that Tri-Sodium Phosphate is a caustic substance used as a cleaning agent. It should be used with care and stored out of reach of children and pets. Wear rubber gloves when using it. Read the label carefully. To remove mildew, wash the fresh stain with soap and warm water. Then rinse and dry in sun. If the stain has not disappeared, use lemon juice and salt, or a diluted solution of household chlorine bleach.
    • Cooking Utensils – Your pots, pans, flatware, etc., should be washed with soapy water, rinsed and then polished with a fine-powdered cleaner.  You can polish copper and brass with special polish, salt sprinkled on a piece of lemon or salt sprinkled on a cloth saturated with vinegar.
    • Electrical Appliances – Appliances that have been exposed to water or steam should not be used until you have a service representative check them. This is especially true of electrical appliances. In addition, steam can remove the lubricant from some moving parts. If the fire department turned off your gas or power during the fire, call the electric or gas company to restore these services – DO NOT TRY TO DO IT YOURSELF.
    • Food – Wash your canned goods in detergent and water. Do the same for food in jars. If labels come off, be sure you mark the contents on the can or jar with a grease pencil. Do not use canned goods when cans have bulged or are dented or rusted.If your home freezer has stopped running, you still can save the frozen food. Keep the freezer closed. Your freezer has enough insulation to keep food frozen for at least one day – perhaps for as many as two or three days. Move your food to a neighbor’s freezer or a rented locker. Wrap the frozen food in newspapers and blankets or use insulated boxes. Do not re-freeze food that has thawed.To remove odor from your refrigerator or freezer, wash the inside with a solution of baking soda and water, or use one cup of vinegar or household ammonia to one gallon of water. Some baking soda in an open container, or a piece of charcoal can be placed in the refrigerator or freezer to absorb odor.
    • Flooring and Rugs – When water gets underneath linoleum, it can cause odors and warp the wood floor. If this happens, remove the entire sheet. If the linoleum is brittle, a heat lamp will soften it so it can be rolled up without breaking. If carefully removed, it can be re-cemented after the floor has completely dried. Small blisters in linoleum can be punctured with a nail and re-cemented if you are careful. Dilute regular linoleum paste thin enough to go through a hand syringe and shoot adhesive through the nail hole. Weigh down the linoleum with bricks or boards. It usually is possible to cement loose tiles of any type. Wait until the floor is completely dry before beginning.Rugs and carpets also should be allowed to dry thoroughly. Throw rugs then can be cleaned by beating, sweeping or vacuuming, and then shampooing. Rugs should be dried as quickly as possible. Lay them flat, and expose them to a circulation of warm, dry air. A fan turned on the rugs will speed drying. Make sure the rugs are thoroughly dry. Even though the surface seems dry, moisture remaining at the base of the tufts can quickly rot a rug. For information on cleaning and preserving carpets, call your carpet dealer or installer or qualified carpet cleaning professional.
    • Mattresses and Pillows – Reconditioning an innerspring mattress at home is very difficult, if not impossible. Your mattress may be able to be renovated by a company that builds or repairs mattresses. If you must use your mattress temporarily, put it out into the sun to dry. Then cover it with rubber or plastic sheeting. It is almost impossible to get smoke odor out of pillows. The feathers and foam retain the odor.
    • Leather and Books – Wipe leather goods with a damp cloth, then a dry cloth. Stuff purses and shoes with newspapers to retain shape. Leave suitcases open. Leather goods should be dried away from heat and sun. When leather goods are dry, clean with saddle soap. You can use steel wool or a suede brush on suede. Rinse leather and suede jackets in cold weather and dry away from heat and sun.Wet books must be taken care of as soon as possible. The best methods to save wet books is to freeze them in a vacuum freezer. This special freezer will remove the moisture without damaging the pages.If there will be a delay in locating such a freezer, place them in a normal freezer until a vacuum freezer can be located.
    • Locks and Hinges – Locks (especially iron locks) should be taken apart, wiped with kerosene and oiled. If locks cannot be removed, squirt machine oil through a bolt opening or keyhole, and work the knob to distribute the oil. Hinges also should be thoroughly cleaned and oiled.
    • Walls and Furniture – To remove soot and smoke from walls, furniture and floors, mix together:4 to 6 tbsp. Tri-Sodium Phosphate
      1 cup Lysol or any chloride bleach
      1 gallon warm waterWear rubber gloves when cleaning. After washing the article, rinse with clear warm water and dry thoroughly.Walls may be washed down while wet. Use a mild soap or detergent. Wash a small area at one time, working from the floor up. Then rinse the wall with clear water immediately. Ceilings should be washed last. Do not repaint until the walls and ceilings are completely dry.Wallpaper also can be repaired. Use a commercial paste to repaste loose edges or sections. Contact your wallpaper dealer or installer for information on wallpaper cleaners. Washable wallpaper can be washed like an ordinary wall, but care must be taken not to soak the paper. Work from bottom to top to prevent streaking.Do not dry your furniture in the sun. The wood will warp and twist out of shape. Clear off the mud and dirt by scrubbing with a stiff brush and a cleaning solution. You can also rub the wood surface with a 4/0 steel wool pad dipped in liquid polishing wax, wipe with a soft cloth and then buff. Remove the drawers and let them dry thoroughly so there will be no sticking when you replace them. Wet wood can decay and mold, so allow it to dry thoroughly. Open doors and windows for good ventilation. Turn on your furnace or air conditioner, if necessary. If mold forms, wipe the wood with a cloth soaked in a mixture of borax dissolved in hot water. To remove white spots or film, rub the wood surface with a cloth soaked in a solution of a half cup of household ammonia and a half cup of water. Wipe dry and polish with wax, or rub the surface with a cloth soaked in a solution of a half cup turpentine and a half cup of linseed oil. Be careful because turpentine is combustible.
    • Money Replacement – Handle burned money as little as possible. Attempt to encase each bill or portion of a bill in plastic wrap for preservation. If money is only half-burned or less (if half or more of the bill is intact), you can take the remainder to your local Federal Reserve Bank for replacement. Ask your personal bank for the nearest one. Or you can mail the burned or torn money via FIRST CLASS REGISTERED MAIL to:U.S. Treasury Department
      Main Treasury Building, Room 1123
      Washington, D.C. 20220Mutilated or melted coins can be taken to the Federal Reserve Bank, or mailed via FIRST CLASS REGISTERED MAIL to:Superintendent, U.S. Assay Office
      32 Old Slip
      New York, NY 10005If your U.S. Savings Bonds have been mutilated or destroyed, write to:U.S. Treasury Department
      Bureau of Public Debt
      Division of Loans and Currency
      537 South Clark St.
      Chicago, IL 60605
      Attn.: Bond ConsultantInclude name(s) on bonds, approximate date or time period when purchased, denominations and approximate number of each.

General Information About Burns

One of the most painful injuries that one can ever experience is a burn injury. When a burn occurs to the skin, nerve endings are damaged causing intense feelings of pain. Every year, millions of people in the United States are burned in one way or another. Of those, thousands die as a result of their burns. Many require long-term hospitalization. Burns are a leading cause of unintentional death in the United States, exceeded in numbers only by automobile crashes and falls.

Serious burns are complex injuries. In addition to the burn injury itself, a number of other functions may be affected. Burn injuries can affect muscles, bones, nerves, and blood vessels. The respiratory system can be damaged, with possible airway obstruction, respiratory failure and respiratory arrest. Since burns injure the skin, they impair the body’s normal fluid/electrolyte balance, body temperature, body thermal regulation, joint function, manual dexterity, and physical appearance. In addition to the physical damage caused by burns, patients also may suffer emotional and psychological problems that begin at the emergency scene and could last a long time.

Classifying Burns

Burns are classified in two ways: Method and Degree of burn.

Methods of Burns

  • Thermal – including flame, radiation, or excessive heat from fire, steam, and hot liquids and hot objects.
  • Chemical – including various acids, bases, and caustics.
  • Electrical – including electrical current and lightning.
  • Light – burns caused by intense light sources or ultraviolet light, which includes sunlight.
  • Radiation – such as from nuclear sources. Ultraviolet light is also a source of radiation burns.

Never assume the source of a burn. Gather information and be sure.

 

Degrees of Burns

  • First degree burns are superficial injuries that involve only the epidermis or outer layer of skin. They are the most common and the most minor of all burns. The skin is reddened and extremely painful. The burn will heal on its own without scarring within two to five days. There may be peeling of the skin and some temporary discoloration.
  • Second degree burns occur when the first layer of skin is burned through and the second layer, the dermal layer, is damaged but the burn does not pass through to underlying tissues. The skin appears moist and there will be deep intense pain, reddening, blisters and a mottled appearance to the skin. Second degree burns are considered minor if they involve less than 15 percent of the body surface in adults and less than 10 percent in children. When treated with reasonable care, second degree burns will heal themselves and produce very little scarring. Healing is usually complete within three weeks.
  • Third degree burns involve all the layers of the skin. They are referred to as full thickness burns and are the most serious of all burns. These are usually charred black and include areas that are dry and white. While a third-degree burn may be very painful, some patients feel little or no pain because the nerve endings have been destroyed. This type of burn may require skin grafting. As third degree burns heal, dense scars form.

Determining The Severity Of Burns

  • Source of the burn – a minor burn caused by nuclear radiation is more severe than a burn caused by thermal sources. Chemical burns are dangerous because the chemical may still be on the skin.
  • Body regions burned – burns to the face are more severe because they could affect airway management or the eyes. Burns to hands and feet are also of special concern because they could impede movement of fingers and toes.
  • Degree of the burn – the degree of the burn is important because it could cause infection of exposed tissues and permit invasion of the circulatory system.
  • Extent of burned surface areas – It is important to know the percentage of the amount of the skin surface involved in the burn. The adult body is divided into regions, each of which represents nine percent of the total body surface. These regions are the head and neck, each upper limb, the chest, the abdomen, the upper back, the lower back and buttocks, the front of each lower limb, and the back of each lower limb. This makes up 99 percent of the human body. The remaining one percent is the genital area. With an infant or small child, more emphasis is placed on the head and trunk.
  • Age of the patient – This is important because small children and senior citizens usually have more severe reactions to burns and different healing processes.
  • Pre-existing physical or mental conditions – Patients with respiratory illnesses, heart disorders, diabetes or kidney disease are in greater jeopardy than normally healthy people.

Treatment Of Burns

Cool a burn with water. Do what you must to get cool water on the burn as soon as you can. Go to the nearest water faucet and turn on the cold spigot and get cool water on the burn. Put cool, water-soaked cloths on the burn. If possible, avoid icy cold water and ice cubes. Such measures could cause further damage to burned skin.

Never apply ointment, grease or butter to the burned area. Applying such products, actually confine the heat of the burn to the skin and do not allow the damaged area to cool. In essence, the skin continues to “simmer.” After the initial trauma of the burn and after it has had sufficient time to cool, it would then be appropriate to put an ointment on the burn. Ointments help prevent infection.

The one exception to the “Cool a Burn” method is when the burn is caused by lime powder. In that case, carefully brush the lime off the skin completely and then flush the area with water. In the event of any serious burns, call 9-1-1.

Pasadena has an enhanced 9-1-1 system, called “Verdugo Dispatch”. This means that the 9-1-1 operator (referred to as the “dispatcher”) can identify through the system’s computer, the phone number and address of the calling party. This assists in timely dispatching of police or fire units to the emergency scene.

Common fire emergencies include structure fires, brush fires, automobile accidents with injuries and smoke. Common medical emergencies include heart attack, respiratory difficulty, seizures and diabetic patients.

When a call is received by the 9-1-1 , they will say, “What is your emergency, police, fire or medical?” The caller should tell the dispatcher which type of emergency they are reporting or give a description of the problem, allowing the dispatcher to decide how to route the call. In Pasadena, the 9-1-1 operator is actually a police dispatcher assigned to process in-coming emergency calls.

If it is a police matter, they will stay on the line and take information. If it is a fire or medical emergency, they will tell the caller to stay on the line and will transfer the call to the fire department. The phone line will ring again. The fire department dispatcher will come on the line and ask the caller if there is a fire or medical emergency. A proper address and phone number will be asked for to verify the 9-1-1 information.

The dispatcher will begin to dispatch emergency units immediately. If it is a medical emergency, the dispatcher then will transfer the caller to the medic dispatcher sitting nearby. The medic dispatcher is specially trained for medical emergencies to provide self-help instructions to the caller.

Pasadena Fire Department fire engines, ladder trucks and ambulances are dispatched according to the nature of the call. The closest unit will be sent to ensure that help arrives as soon as possible. It also means that more than one fire unit may be sent to the scene.

All Pasadena Fire Department Personnel receive medical training and, at a minimum, are EMT’s (Emergency Medical Technicians). Certain firefighters receive additional training as paramedics. They are capable of providing advanced life-support treatment including IVs, drug therapy and cardiac monitoring. Currently, paramedics are assigned to the engine companies, and rescue ambulances.

Whenever a person calls 9-1-1, their message needs to be clear. They also need to stay on the phone until the person in the alarm room has released them from the conversation.

Try to stay calm. State what kind of emergency it is – fire, car accident, heart attack, etc., then tell the dispatcher where the incident is.

Stay on the phone. The dispatcher may ask more questions or want you to stay on the line. Emergency units already have been dispatched even while you are talking with the dispatcher. Children should be taught their home address and telephone number as soon as possible. In most cases, when a caller dials 9-1-1, the address and phone number of the caller’s location is displayed to the 9-1-1 dispatcher. However, this is not always verified because of information that may be called in from cellular or mobile phones.

Location

When the fire department responds to a given location, it may be delayed in arriving if the address is not clearly seen from the street. Although it’s fairly easy to spot a column of smoke from a house fire, it’s difficult to see someone’s heart attack from the street. In a medical emergency, firefighters may waste critical time having to knock on several doors to try and find a correct address. Make sure your address is clearly visible from the street. The numbers should be three or four inches in height and be reflective.

This problem is compounded in large condominium and apartment complexes. Arriving at a correct address, the engine company finds a huge residential facility with many buildings in the complex. Make sure large identification lettering or numbering is mounted on the side of the building. This is as important as the street address. It would be even better if someone could be standing near the street to direct the fire units to the appropriate apartment.

Code 3

 

Code 3 means emergency response in an emergency vehicle. When an emergency vehicle is driving with its lights flashing and the siren going, that means it’s going Code 3 to an emergency somewhere. Someone needs help quickly.
When an emergency vehicle is heard and/or seen, drivers should carefully pull their vehicle to the right of the road and stop. If they are at an intersection, or stopped in traffic when they see lights or hear a siren, drivers should remain stopped and wait until the emergency vehicles have passed. Do not make quick or erratic maneuvers. The law is very specific; drivers must yield the right-of-way to an emergency vehicle. Drivers also should stay 300 feet behind emergency vehicles.

A crash involving an emergency vehicle delays help to those who need it. Firefighters are careful to avoid vehicle collisions by driving slowly when traveling against traffic, or coming to a complete stop at intersections. The cooperation of all vehicles on the roadway is required. Be careful when driving by or around a motor vehicle accident or any situation where emergency vehicles are parked and the firefighters are working. Resist the impulse to “rubber-neck.” This can cause additional collisions.

Even though fire apparatus are placed to protect firefighters, tragically, sometimes emergency crews have been hit and killed by passing vehicles.

Carbon monoxide (CO) is an odorless, colorless, deadly gas. It can kill you before you know it because you can’t see it, taste it or smell it. At lower levels of exposure, it can cause health problems. Some people may be more vulnerable to CO poisoning such as fetuses, infants, children, senior citizens and those with heart or lung problems. When CO is breathed in by an individual, it accumulates in the blood and forms a toxic compound known as carboxyhemoglobin (COHb). Hemoglobin carries oxygen in the bloodstream to cells and tissues. Carbon monoxide attaches itself to hemoglobin and displaces the oxygen that the body organs need.

Carboxyhemoglobin can cause headaches, fatigue, nausea, dizzy spells, confusion and irritability. Later stages of CO poisoning can cause vomiting, loss of consciousness and eventually brain damage or death.

Carbon monoxide is a by-product of combustion of fossil fuels. Fumes from automobiles contain high levels of CO. Appliances such as furnaces, space heaters, clothes dryers, ranges, ovens, water heaters, charcoal grills, fireplaces and wood burning stoves produce CO. Carbon monoxide usually is vented to the outside if appliances function correctly and the home is vented properly. Problems occur when furnace heat exchanger crack or vents and chimneys become blocked. Insulation sometimes can trap CO in the home.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission recommends installing at least one carbon monoxide detector with an audible alarm near the bedrooms. If a home has more than one story, a detector should be placed on each story.

Be sure the detector has a testing laboratory label.

The following is a checklist for where to look for problem sources of CO in the home:

    1. A forced air furnace is frequently the source of leaks and should be carefully inspected.
      • Measure the concentration of carbon monoxide in the flue gases.
      • Check furnace connections to flue pipes and venting systems to the outside of the home for signs of corrosion, rust gaps, holes.
      • Check furnace filters and filtering systems for dirt and blockage.
      • Check forced air fans for proper installation and to assure correct air flow of flue gases. Improper furnace blower installation can result in carbon monoxide build-up because toxic gas is blown into rather than out of the house.
      • Check the combustion chamber and internal heat exchanger for cracks, holes, metal fatigue or corrosion.  Be sure they are clean and free of debris.
    2. Check burners and ignition system. A flame that is mostly yellow in color in natural gas fired furnaces is often a sign that the fuel is not burning completely and higher levels of carbon monoxide are being released. Oil furnaces with similar problems can give off an oily odor. Remember you can’t smell carbon monoxide.

 

  1. Check all venting systems to the outside including flues and chimneys for cracks, corrosion, holes, debris, blockages. Animals and birds can build nests in chimneys preventing gases from escaping.
    • Check all other appliances in the home that use flammable fuels such as natural gas, oil, propane, wood or kerosene. Appliances include water heaters, clothes dryers, kitchen ranges, ovens or cooktops: woodburning stoves, gas refrigerators.
    • Pilot lights can be a source of carbon monoxide because the by-products of combustion are released inside the home rather than vented outside.
    • Be sure space heaters are vented properly. Unvented space heaters that use a flammable fuel such as kerosene can release carbon monoxide into the home.
    • Barbecue grills should never be operated indoors under any circumstances nor should stove tops or ovens that operate on flammable fuels be used to heat a residence.
    • Check fireplaces for closed, blocked or bent flues, soot and debris.
    • Check the clothes dryer vent opening outside the house for lint.

CPR

What Is CPR?

It is the artificial method of circulating blood and oxygen through a body and attempting to keep the brain alive. CPR does work. When initiated within four minutes, the survival rate is 43 percent. When initiated within four to eight minutes, the survival rate is ten percent.

Why Learn CPR?

  • One in seven people will have the opportunity to use CPR in their lifetime.
  • More than 650,000 people die annually from heart attack in the United States each year.
  • More than 350,000 die before reaching the hospital.
  • When the brain starts to go four to six minutes without oxygen, brain damage/death begins.
  • On the average, it takes the Pasadena Fire Department about four minutes to respond to the scene of an incident.
  • When CPR is needed, the Pasadena Fire Department is the first to initiate it 85 percent of the time.
  • In the United States, there are 500,000 strokes a year.
  • In the United States, there are 6,000 drowning incidents a year and 3,100 incidents of airway obstructions a year.
  • Return to top of Cardio-Pulmonary Resuscitation

Risk Factors

Factors that cannot be changed:

  • Heredity – cannot change your genetic background
  • Age – risks increase with age, however, one in four deaths occur under age 65.

Factors that can be changed:

  • Smoking one pack a day increases heart attack rate two times over a nonsmoker and stroke rate five times over a nonsmoker.
  • Hypertension – (high blood pressure) is a major risk factor but with no specific symptoms. One in three adults or 58,000 Americans have high blood pressure controlled by diet, exercise and medications.
  • Diet – high fat, high cholesterol foods cause plaque to collect on artery walls constricting blood flow.

 

Other factors

  • Obesity – obese middle aged men have three times greater risk of heart attack.
  • Lack of exercise – regular aerobics exercise at least three times a week.
  • Stress – A Type A personality, with a sense of urgency, drive and competitiveness, has a greater risk.

Signs And Symptoms Of Heart Attack

  1. Chest pain – can be an uncomfortable pressure, tightness or feeling of indigestion, heavy squeezing pain like a weight on the chest, can radiate to left arm and neck
  2. Nausea/vomiting
  3. Shortness of breath
  4. Pale, sweaty cold skin
  5. May have no signs or symptoms (silent Myocardial infarction)

 

Actions For Survival

  1. Recognize signals
  2. Stop activity, rest, lay down
  3. If pain lasts more than two minutes, call for help
  4. Patient’s having early signs often deny having a heart attack
  5. Be prepared to do CPR, if alone do CPR for one minute, then call 9-1-1.

Four Reasons To Stop CPR

    1. Patient is revived
    2. You are relieved by another trained individual
    3. Become exhausted
    4. Doctor is present and pronounces death

 

Prevention

    • Avoid smoking
    • Health diet (fiber, fruits, vegetables, avoid junk foods)
    • Less TV, more exercise
    • Know and control blood pressure and cholesterol level

 

Facts

  • The lungs function is to exchange carbon dioxide for oxygen.
  • Room air is 21 percent oxygen, exhaled air is 16 percent oxygen. All body organs and cells need oxygen to live.
  • During CPR, exhalation is due to normal relaxation of the chest.
  • The heart is the size of your fist with two separate halves (left and right heart). The right heart receives blood from the body and pumps it through the lungs back to the left heart. The left heart pumps fresh oxygenated blood to all body parts.
  • The heart beats 60-100 times a minute, 100,000 times a day and pumps five quarts of blood a minute or 1,800 gallons a day. Ninety percent of the time, CPR will be done on a family member or close friend.
  • People do vomit and ribs do crack sometimes during CPR.
  • Never do blind finger sweeps in the mouth on anyone.
  • The victim should lie on a flat, hard surface.
  • If you are alone, do CPR for one minute, then call 9-1-1.

Good Samaritan Act – Article 4 ARS. #32-1471

Health care providers and other persons administering emergency aid are not liable. Any health care provider licensed or certified to practice as such in this state or elsewhere or any other person who renders emergency care at a public gathering or at a scene of an emergency occurrence gratuitously and in good faith, shall not be liable for any civil or other damages as the result of any act or omission by which person rendering the emergency care, or as the result of any act or failure to act to provide or arrange for further medical treatment or care for the injured persons, unless such person, while rendering such care, is guilty of gross negligence.

If you are interested in learning CPR, call:

American Heart Association  —  (800) 242-8721
American Red Cross  — (626) 395-7188

Each year the Pasadena Fire Department responds to a significant number of fires and medical emergencies caused by electrical malfunction. Every year in the United States, more than 1,000 people are killed and thousands more injured in electrical fire or shock incidents. It is important to know how to use electrical appliances safely and how to recognize electrical hazards.

The Nature Of Electricity

Most homes have two incoming voltages: 120 volts for lighting and appliance circuits and 240 volts for larger air conditioning and electric dryer circuits.

When an appliance switch is turned on, electrical current flows through the wire, completing the electrical “circuit” and causing the appliance to operate. The amount of flowing current is called “amperage.” Most lighting circuits in the home are 15 amp circuits. Most electric dryers and air conditioners require larger 30 amp circuits.

The amount of electrical power needed to make an appliance operate is called “wattage” and is a function of the amount of current flowing through the wire (amperage), and the pressure in the system (voltage).

Mathematically speaking, volts x amps = watts. So, if we have a 120 volt system and a 15 amp current, we can flow a maximum of 120 x 15 or 1,800 watts on a typical lighting or appliance circuit. When too many lights or appliances are attached to the electrical system, it will overload and overheat. This can cause the wire insulation to melt and ignite, resulting in an electrical fire. The amount of electrical current flowing through wire is affected by resistance. This is known as “ohms.” Resistance causes increased heat in the wire. Heat is the byproduct that makes some appliances work, such as an iron, toaster, stove or furnace. Large current faces high resistance when moving through a small wire. This generates lots of heat. That’s how an incandescent light bulb works. Resistance through the light filament causes it to heat up which gives off a bright light. Electrical resistance also is affected by the length of a wire. Operating an electrical hedge clipper with a long extension cord increases resistance and might cause the cord to overheat, melt or ignite. The same occurs if too many strands of Christmas lights are connected together.

The size of electrical wire is dependent upon the amount of current required to operate a particular appliance. Wiring to the air conditioner, electric stove and electric dryer is much larger to handle the increased voltage (240) volts) and amperage (30 amps). Wiring is covered with a protective material called “insulation.”

Electrical circuits in homes are designed so that all components are compatible. The size of the wire, outlets and circuit breakers are designed for an anticipated electrical load. A circuit is said to be overloaded when too much current flows causing heat build up or wiring to break down. When two bare wires touch, a “short circuit” is said to occur. This can lead to sparks and fire. Deteriorated insulation is one of the most frequent causes of short circuits.

A “circuit breaker” or “fuse” is a safety device designed to prevent accidental overloading of electrical circuits. They are set at a specific amperage. When that amperage is exceeded, it trips and shuts off the flow of electricity, stopping the circuit from continued overheating. When a fuse or circuit breaker trips, it is important to find the cause and correct it. Often, people will just reset the breaker or put in larger fuse. NEVER USE OVERSIZED FUSES ON CIRCUIT BREAKERS. NEVER SUBSTITUTE A PENNY OR FOIL-WRAPPED FUSE. This could cause a fire!

General Electrical Safety

When a house is under construction, city inspectors visit to make sure the electrical system is in compliance with the City Building Code and the National Electrical Code. Only licensed electricians are permitted to install electrical systems. During home remodeling, when electrical circuits are added or changed, make sure to use a licensed electrician whose work complies with the electrical code. Add enough outlets in every room to avoid using multiple plugs or extension cords. Use a ground fault interrupter (G.F.I.) on circuits in the bathroom, or outdoors where water or moisture is present. G.F.I. is a type of very sensitive circuit breaker and is required by the Pasadena Municiple Code.

When choosing an electrical appliance, be sure it is approved by a safety-testing laboratory. This insures that it has been constructed in accordance with nationally-accepted electrical standards and has been evaluated for safety. Use the appliance only according to manufacturer’s specific instructions.

If you touch an electrical appliance, wall switch or electrical cord while you are wet or standing in water, it will increase the chance of electrical shock.

When using an extension cord, be sure it is designed to carry the intended load. Most cannot carry as much current as permanent wiring and tend to overheat. Do not use an extension cord in place of permanent wiring, especially if a tripping hazard exists or where there is high physical abuse, such as under a carpet. Keep electrical cords away from infants and toddlers and use tamperproof inserts on wall outlets to prevent them from sticking objects into the outlets. The cord must be protected from damage. Do not run it around objects or hang on a nail. Inspect it periodically for worn insulation and overall condition.

Safety With Electrical Appliances

The potential for electrical shock or fire from an electrical appliance is very real, especially when safety recommendations are not followed.

Before buying an appliance, look for the label of a recognized testing laboratory such as Underwriters Laboratory or Factory Mutual.

Keep space heaters, stoves, irons and other heat-producing appliances away from furniture, curtains, bedding or towels. Also, give televisions, stereos and computers plenty of air-space so they won’t overheat.

Never use an appliance with a damaged cord, and be sure to use three-pronged electrical devices in three-pronged outlets. These outlets may not be available in older homes, so use a three-pronged adapter, and screw the tab onto the grounded outlet box cover. Never cut off or bend the grounding pin of the plug. If you have a polarized plug (with one side wider than the other), never file it down or try to make it reversible.

Keep electrical cords out of the path of traffic. If you put cords under carpets or rugs, wires can be damaged and might result in fire.

An electrical cord should never be wrapped around an appliance until the appliance has cooled. Because hair care equipment is often used in bathrooms near sinks and bathtubs, it is extremely important to be especially careful that the appliances do not come in contact with water. If one drops into water, do not touch it until you have pulled the wall plug.

Protect young children by putting plastic inserts in receptacle outlets not in use to keep them from putting anything into outlets.

Never put a kitchen knife or other metal object in a toaster to remove stuck bread or bagels unless it is unplugged and cooled. Install television and radio antennas where they cannot fall across power lines. Use caution when operating a tree-pruning device or using a metal ladder around power lines.

Inspect appliances regularly to make sure they operate properly. If an appliance smells funny when in use, makes unusual sounds or the cord feels warm to touch, repair or replace the unit. Don’t repair it yourself unless you are qualified. Keep appliances in a cool, dry place to prevent rusting.

Electrical Emergencies

When an electrical emergency occurs, there are several survival actions that can be taken. You should know how to trip the main circuit breaker at the electrical panel to turn off all power to the house.

If an appliance smells funny or operates improperly, pull the plug if it can be done safely. If arcing, burning or smoking from an appliance occurs, turn off the power at the circuit breaker and CALL THE FIRE DEPARTMENT.

Winds accompanying thunderstorms may knock down power lines or utility poles. Keep people away from the area, and call the fire department. If power lines come in contact with a vehicle, do not touch it or the vehicle. If people are inside, tell them to stay inside. If they try to exit, they may complete a grounded electrical circuit and be instantly killed. They must stay inside until the power is shut by the utility company.

If a serious electrical malfunction occurs in your home, school or workplace, it is the same as a fire. Notify others, activate the fire alarm and exit promptly. If you are familiar with the operation of a fire extinguisher, you can use only a “Class C” Fire Extinguisher on an electrical fire.

Fires can happen anywhere. A fire in a large building creates an enormous risk to everyone. Other reasons for evacuating buildings include natural gas leaks, earthquakes, hazardous material spills and storms. Knowing what to do is the key to surviving a fire emergency. Conducting regular fire drills will give you the knowledge and confidence to escape a fire safely. There are two steps for a good evacuation program – planning and practice.

Planning

Planning gives you the information you need ahead of time to evacuate safely. In the workplace, employees and supervisors should plan together for exiting their worksite. At school, involve all school staff including teachers, administrative and office workers, and the maintenance and food service staff.

Working together, design an evacuation plan to meet the specific needs of your building and your occupants. Make the plan clear and concise. Review the plan and walk through the exit procedure to make sure that everyone knows what to do.

Each building, whether it be a school, workplace or multi-family living unit, should have a posted exit diagram (plan) and everyone should be familiar with it.

Be sure that smoke detectors are installed and maintained. Know the sound of the fire alarm. Everyone should recognize and respond to the sound of the smoke detector or other fire alarm immediately. Immediate response is vital for a quick, orderly evacuation.

Everyone should exit in an orderly manner to prevent confusion and minimize panic or injury. No one should push their way out an exit. Single file lines are best in controlling traffic to the exits.

Consider special needs people. When developing your escape plan, remember that younger, older, or disabled people may need special assistance. Anyone with special needs should be located as close to an exit as possible. Train others to give special assistance with evacuation.

Be sure to know two ways out. There should be two ways out of every area of the home, school, or workplace. If the primary exit is blocked by smoke or fire, use your second exit. Point out all emergency exits as you walk through the emergency procedure.

Always use the stairways to exit multi-story buildings. Do not use an elevator. An elevator may stop between floors, or go to the fire floor and stop with the doors open.

If a room or corridor is filled with smoke, crawl low on your hands and knees to exit. The cleaner air is closer to the ground.

Plan your meeting place. A designated meeting place outside the building is a vital part of an evacuation plan. Count heads. Be aware of who is there (hopefully everybody will be accounted for) and who is not there. When the fire department arrives, you can report if there is anyone missing.

Know what to do if you can’t escape. You’ll need to plan your actions in case immediate escape is impossible. If possible, for example, stay in a room with an outside window and always close doors between you and the fire. Think about what you could use – sheets, towels, curtains, or even large pieces of clothing – to stuff around cracks near the door and wave as a signal to rescuers. Know how to open the window to ventilate smoke, but be prepared to close the window immediately if an open window makes the room smokier. If there is a phone, call the fire department with your location, even if firefighters are already on the scene. Remember, stay low in smoke until you’re rescued.

Practice

After planning, practice to make sure that everyone knows what to do. Have fire drills. Practice your fire escape periodically throughout the year. Remember, the element of surprise simulates a real fire and adds essential realism to your fire drill program.

Appoint someone to monitor the drill. This person will sound the alarm and make the drill realistic by requiring participants to use their second way out or to crawl low. This could be done by having someone hold up a sign reading “smoke” or “exit blocked by fire.” The monitor also will measure how long complete evacuation takes.

Coordinate arrangements for fire drills in apartments or other multi-family homes, in schools or in workplaces with the local fire department.

After the evacuation, take a head count at the designated meeting place(s) to account for everyone’s participation and safe evacuation.

When everyone is back inside the building after the drill, gather everyone together to discuss any questions or problems that occurred during the drill. Redesign the drill procedures as needed. Make the next fire drill even more effective.

Remember, once you are outside, stay outside. Don’t go back in until the proper authorities say it is okay.

Each year the Pasadena Fire Department responds to a significant number of fires and medical emergencies caused by electrical malfunction. Every year in the United States, more than 1,000 people are killed and thousands more injured in electrical fire or shock incidents. It is important to know how to use electrical appliances safely and how to recognize electrical hazards.

The Nature Of Electricity

Most homes have two incoming voltages: 120 volts for lighting and appliance circuits and 240 volts for larger air conditioning and electric dryer circuits.

When an appliance switch is turned on, electrical current flows through the wire, completing the electrical “circuit” and causing the appliance to operate. The amount of flowing current is called “amperage.” Most lighting circuits in the home are 15 amp circuits. Most electric dryers and air conditioners require larger 30 amp circuits.

The amount of electrical power needed to make an appliance operate is called “wattage” and is a function of the amount of current flowing through the wire (amperage), and the pressure in the system (voltage).

Mathematically speaking, volts x amps = watts. So, if we have a 120 volt system and a 15 amp current, we can flow a maximum of 120 x 15 or 1,800 watts on a typical lighting or appliance circuit. When too many lights or appliances are attached to the electrical system, it will overload and overheat. This can cause the wire insulation to melt and ignite, resulting in an electrical fire. The amount of electrical current flowing through wire is affected by resistance. This is known as “ohms.” Resistance causes increased heat in the wire. Heat is the byproduct that makes some appliances work, such as an iron, toaster, stove or furnace. Large current faces high resistance when moving through a small wire. This generates lots of heat. That’s how an incandescent light bulb works. Resistance through the light filament causes it to heat up which gives off a bright light. Electrical resistance also is affected by the length of a wire. Operating an electrical hedge clipper with a long extension cord increases resistance and might cause the cord to overheat, melt or ignite. The same occurs if too many strands of Christmas lights are connected together.

The size of electrical wire is dependent upon the amount of current required to operate a particular appliance. Wiring to the air conditioner, electric stove and electric dryer is much larger to handle the increased voltage (240) volts) and amperage (30 amps). Wiring is covered with a protective material called “insulation.”

Electrical circuits in homes are designed so that all components are compatible. The size of the wire, outlets and circuit breakers are designed for an anticipated electrical load. A circuit is said to be overloaded when too much current flows causing heat build up or wiring to break down. When two bare wires touch, a “short circuit” is said to occur. This can lead to sparks and fire. Deteriorated insulation is one of the most frequent causes of short circuits.

A “circuit breaker” or “fuse” is a safety device designed to prevent accidental overloading of electrical circuits. They are set at a specific amperage. When that amperage is exceeded, it trips and shuts off the flow of electricity, stopping the circuit from continued overheating. When a fuse or circuit breaker trips, it is important to find the cause and correct it. Often, people will just reset the breaker or put in larger fuse. NEVER USE OVERSIZED FUSES ON CIRCUIT BREAKERS. NEVER SUBSTITUTE A PENNY OR FOIL-WRAPPED FUSE. This could cause a fire!

General Electrical Safety

When a house is under construction, city inspectors visit to make sure the electrical system is in compliance with the City Building Code and the National Electrical Code. Only licensed electricians are permitted to install electrical systems. During home remodeling, when electrical circuits are added or changed, make sure to use a licensed electrician whose work complies with the electrical code. Add enough outlets in every room to avoid using multiple plugs or extension cords. Use a ground fault interrupter (G.F.I.) on circuits in the bathroom, or outdoors where water or moisture is present. G.F.I. is a type of very sensitive circuit breaker and is required by the Pasadena Municiple Code.

When choosing an electrical appliance, be sure it is approved by a safety-testing laboratory. This insures that it has been constructed in accordance with nationally-accepted electrical standards and has been evaluated for safety. Use the appliance only according to manufacturer’s specific instructions.

If you touch an electrical appliance, wall switch or electrical cord while you are wet or standing in water, it will increase the chance of electrical shock.

When using an extension cord, be sure it is designed to carry the intended load. Most cannot carry as much current as permanent wiring and tend to overheat. Do not use an extension cord in place of permanent wiring, especially if a tripping hazard exists or where there is high physical abuse, such as under a carpet. Keep electrical cords away from infants and toddlers and use tamperproof inserts on wall outlets to prevent them from sticking objects into the outlets. The cord must be protected from damage. Do not run it around objects or hang on a nail. Inspect it periodically for worn insulation and overall condition.

Safety With Electrical Appliances

The potential for electrical shock or fire from an electrical appliance is very real, especially when safety recommendations are not followed.

Before buying an appliance, look for the label of a recognized testing laboratory such as Underwriters Laboratory or Factory Mutual.

Keep space heaters, stoves, irons and other heat-producing appliances away from furniture, curtains, bedding or towels. Also, give televisions, stereos and computers plenty of air-space so they won’t overheat.

Never use an appliance with a damaged cord, and be sure to use three-pronged electrical devices in three-pronged outlets. These outlets may not be available in older homes, so use a three-pronged adapter, and screw the tab onto the grounded outlet box cover. Never cut off or bend the grounding pin of the plug. If you have a polarized plug (with one side wider than the other), never file it down or try to make it reversible.

Keep electrical cords out of the path of traffic. If you put cords under carpets or rugs, wires can be damaged and might result in fire.

An electrical cord should never be wrapped around an appliance until the appliance has cooled. Because hair care equipment is often used in bathrooms near sinks and bathtubs, it is extremely important to be especially careful that the appliances do not come in contact with water. If one drops into water, do not touch it until you have pulled the wall plug.

Protect young children by putting plastic inserts in receptacle outlets not in use to keep them from putting anything into outlets.

Never put a kitchen knife or other metal object in a toaster to remove stuck bread or bagels unless it is unplugged and cooled. Install television and radio antennas where they cannot fall across power lines. Use caution when operating a tree-pruning device or using a metal ladder around power lines.

Inspect appliances regularly to make sure they operate properly. If an appliance smells funny when in use, makes unusual sounds or the cord feels warm to touch, repair or replace the unit. Don’t repair it yourself unless you are qualified. Keep appliances in a cool, dry place to prevent rusting.

Electrical Emergencies

When an electrical emergency occurs, there are several survival actions that can be taken. You should know how to trip the main circuit breaker at the electrical panel to turn off all power to the house.

If an appliance smells funny or operates improperly, pull the plug if it can be done safely. If arcing, burning or smoking from an appliance occurs, turn off the power at the circuit breaker and CALL THE FIRE DEPARTMENT.

Winds accompanying thunderstorms may knock down power lines or utility poles. Keep people away from the area, and call the fire department. If power lines come in contact with a vehicle, do not touch it or the vehicle. If people are inside, tell them to stay inside. If they try to exit, they may complete a grounded electrical circuit and be instantly killed. They must stay inside until the power is shut by the utility company.

If a serious electrical malfunction occurs in your home, school or workplace, it is the same as a fire. Notify others, activate the fire alarm and exit promptly. If you are familiar with the operation of a fire extinguisher, you can use only a “Class C” Fire Extinguisher on an electrical fire.

Make sure fire hydrants have a three foot area clear of debris and obstructions. Firefighters may need to get to the hydrant for water supply. An obstruction of fencing, tree branches, bushes, weeds or brush may cause a delay as firefighters try to get water to extinguish a fire. Someone may be injured or killed because water is not available as soon as possible.

A fire hydrant that is leaking, broken, missing caps or malfunctioning should be reported to the Pasadena Water and Power Department at (626) 744-4138 or (626) 744-4409 or fill out an online service request at our Citizen Service Center.

Don’t block a fire hydrant by parking a vehicle next to it. Vehicles cannot be parked any closer than 15 feet to a fire hydrant from any direction. Remember, your actions may cause a delay in being able to supply water to an emergency that continues to grow until intervention takes place.

Did You Know That…

  • a fireplace removes more heat from your house than it puts in?
  • even though you are roasting in front of an open fire, the temperature of the room is not changing significantly and can even be dropping?
  • there is no chemical on the market that will clean a chimney?
  • you lose more heat through a fireplace opening, than through the equivalent size hole in the wall?
  • burning trash in your fireplace will damage your chimney and create a safety hazard?
  • as little as one millimeter of creosote lining the chimney can reduce a stove’s efficiency by up to 15 percent?

A Heatintg Device

Infrared energy is radiated outward from the fire. This energy is converted to heat on the surface it strikes, such as skin, the surface of a chair or your clothes. But if something comes between you and the fire, you notice the difference. The temperature of the air has not gone up one degree, and chances are it has dropped because air needed to supply the fire comes from outside at much cooler temperatures.

A wood stove, accompanied by a glass enclosure on the fireplace, is the best way to heat with wood.

The average volume of air that is pulled through an open chimney in an hour is equal to twice the total volume of air in your house. This varies slightly depending on the chimney and the size of the house but not by much. So all night while your furnace is busy pumping hot air in, the chimney very efficiently pumps the hot air out. This is why glass enclosures are important in helping to stop heat loss.

Chimney Caps

There are five good reasons to have a chimney cap:

  1. It keeps out the rain. Rain can soak into the mortar joints, weaken them and, therefore, weaken the chimney. If you have a metal firebox, rain will cause rust. If you have a wood stove insert, rain will rust it rapidly.
  2. A cap will keep out birds and other varmints. Bird droppings down the chimney can cause a bad smell and a breeding ground for mites.
  3. Installing a chimney cap can prevent roof fires, as its spark arrestor will trap the hot embers.
  4. A cap inhibits downdrafting. Backpuffing of smoke can result from several factors. One of these is downdrafting, blowing smoke back down into the room.
  5. A cap keeps out leaves. Leaves can choke a flue and set off a chimney fire in a dirty flue.

Keep It All Clean

A build-up of creosote in a chimney is a potential fire hazard. Dust-like carbon deposits called creosote collect on the inside of a chimney flue, impairing the draft. Creosote is a natural by-product of burning wood. The build-up will vary depending on the type of wood most used in the fireplace.

Soft woods, including pine and artificial logs, produce the highest level of creosote. These burn fast and leave a high deposit of creosote. Juniper is a little better. The best woods to use are hard woods, which include cedar, oak and mesquite. These burn slower, hotter and leave fewer deposits of creosote.

Creosote burns with an intense flame that can damage mortar. In a matter of seconds the fire spreads up through the flue, as the creosote is burning, creating a draft that only helps the fire burn. This is a chimney fire; it sounds like a roar, like a rocket taking off in your living room.

If you think you have a chimney fire, leave the house and call 9-1-1.

The National Fire Protection Association recommends that chimneys be inspected once a year and cleaned if needed. When used regularly, the chimney should be checked every six months. How do you know whether your chimney needs cleaning? You may be able to tell by using a powerful light and a mirror to look up the flue from the bottom. If the bricks look pink, you’re okay. If they are black or furry looking, it’s time for cleaning.

 

Fireplace Safety

 

  • Don’t build a fire too big for the fireplace.
  • Don’t use fire starters such as charcoal lighter, kerosene or gasoline to start the fire.
  • Fireplaces radiate heat just like space heaters so furniture and other combustibles should be kept a safe distance from the fire.
  • Be sure the chimney is clean and in good condition.
  • Be sure the damper is open before starting a fire.
  • Don’t burn trash in the fireplace.
  • A screen or glass doors should cover the front of the fireplace to prevent sparks from flying out into the room.
  • Seasoned wood is safer than green wood. Hardwoods have less creosote build-up than softwoods.
  • Ashes should be removed into a metal container and allowed to thoroughly cool before being placed in the trash container.
  • Don’t leave small children alone in a room with a fire.
  • Do not leave a fire burning when you go to bed or leave the house.

All fabrics will burn but some are more combustible than others. Untreated natural fibers such as cotton, linen and silk burn more readily than wool, which is more difficult to ignite and burns with a low flame velocity.

The weight and weave of the fabric will affect how easily the material will ignite and burn. Recommended fabrics are materials with a tight weave. Heavy, tight weave fabrics will burn more slowly than loose weave, light fabrics of the same material. The surface texture of the fabric also affects flammability. Fabrics with long, loose, fluffy pile or “brushed” nap will ignite more readily than fabrics with a hard, tight surface, and in some cases will result in flames flashing across the fabric surface.

Most synthetic fabrics, such as nylon, acrylic or polyester resist ignition. However, once ignited, the fabrics melt. This hot, sticky, melted substance causes localized and extremely severe burns. When natural and synthetic fibers are blended, the hazard may increase because the combination of high rate of burning and fabric melting usually will result in serious burns. In some cases, the hazard may be greater than that of either fabric individually.

Curtains, draperies and other articles in the home can have their burning rates reduced with flame retardants applied through chemical treatment. Such flame-retardant treatment after manufacturing is not recommended for clothing.

The design of clothing also may influence the flammability of the garment. Full, long and loose garments tend to ignite easily and have a higher rate of burning since more material is exposed to the atmosphere than with close-fitting garments.

Flame-retardant materials used in garments require special laundering to maintain the flame-retardant effectiveness. Flame-retardant materials should be washed only with standard detergents. Clothing labels usually provide adequate information about the care of the garment.

Recommended clothing for minimum flammability would be sturdy jeans, tight-fitting jerseys, blouses without frills, jersey pajamas with no ruffled nightgowns, clothes with tight-fitting or short sleeves, clothes made from flame-retardant fabrics, sweaters, shirts and dresses that are not loose, flowing or too big. Clothing made from flame-retardant fabric is recommended especially for the elderly.

In terms of flammability, silk may be the worst with a high burning rate, which may be increased by the dyes and other additives to provide color.

Cotton and linen also have a high burning rate but this can be alleviated by the application of flame-retardant chemical additives.

Acetate and triacetate are as flammable or slightly less flammable than cotton. However, they can be made flame-retardant with chemical treatment.

Nylon, polyester and acrylic tend to be slow to ignite but once ignited, severe melting and dripping occurs.

Wool is comparatively flame-retardant. If ignited, it usually has a low burning rate and may self-extinguish.

Glass fibers and moacrylic are almost flame-resistant. These synthetic fibers are designed and manufactured to possess flame-retardant properties.

Flammable and combustible products are used for a wide variety of purposes and are commonly found in the home. Gasoline is the most common, but there are other flammable and combustible liquids and gases used in the home including:

  • paint solvents
  • lighter fluid
  • dry cleaning agents
  • butane
  • pesticides
  • oil
  • spray paint
  • kerosene
  • propane
  • diesel fuel
  • turpentine
  • nail polish

Many households use natural gas, propane or fuel oil heating. Each product poses a serious health or fire danger if not used and stored properly.

Background Information

A flammable liquid in its liquid state will not burn. It only will ignite when it vaporizes into a gaseous state. All flammable liquids give off vapors that can ignite and burn when an ignition source such as a lighted cigarette or spark is present.

To understand the dangers associated with flammable liquids, it is useful to be familiar with the terms used to describe their chemical properties. They are:

  • Flash point
  • Flammable/combustible liquids
  • Flammable range
  • Ignition temperatures
  • Vapor density

Flash point – The temperature at which a particular flammable liquid gives off vapors (vaporizes) and therefore can ignite. The flash point differs for each type of flammable liquid. Kerosene has a flash point of 110 degrees Fahrenheit. Gasoline has a flash point of -40 degrees. This means that at 110 degrees or higher kerosene gives off flammable vapors and can ignite. However, gasoline requires a temperature of only -40 degrees to vaporize to cause an explosion or fire. This means that when the temperature is freezing, gasoline still vaporizes and can cause an explosion and/or fire. At the same temperature, kerosene cannot ignite. Liquids such as gasoline with a flashpoint below 100 degrees are called flammable liquids. Kerosene and other liquids with a flash point above 100 degrees are referred to as combustible liquids.

Flammable range refers to the percentage of a flammable liquid, in its gaseous state, to air to create an explosive mixture. This varies with different flammable liquids. Gasoline has a flammability range of 1.4 to 7.6 percent. This means it will ignite when there is 1.4 parts of gasoline mixed with 100 parts air. With this in mind, 1.4 percent is known as the lower flammable limit and 7.6 percent is the upper flammable limit of the flammable range. A product mixed with air below the low end of its flammable range is too lean to burn. A flammable liquid which exceeds its upper flammable limit is too rich to ignite. Ethylene oxide is extremely flammable. It has a flammable range of 3.6 to 100 percent. This means it can burn even if there is no air.

Gasoline has a narrow flammable range and is metered precisely in a vehicle’s carburetor to obtain the desired flammable range. A vehicle will have trouble operating if the carburetor meters too much gasoline. This is referred to as a rich mixture, which is too concentrated for ignition by the spark plugs. Too little gasoline in a vehicle’s carburetor is called a lean mixture, which is too diluted for ignition.

The ignition temperature is the temperature required for a liquid to continue to emit vapors which can and sustain combustion. Gasoline will ignite when a heat source or electrical spark of at least 853 degrees comes in contact with it. Natural gas (methane) needs an ignition temperature of around 1000 degrees and paint thinner 453 degrees.

Vapor density is the weight of a vapor relative to the weight of air. The vapor density of natural gas causes it to be lighter than air and will rise when exposed in the open. The vapor density of gasoline is heavier than air and will seek low points when it is exposed to the air. Products with a high vapor density (heavier than air) behave much like carbon dioxide gas escaping from a block of dry ice. (Dry ice is frozen carbon dioxide gas.) A term used in the fire service is BLEVE. It is an acronym for “Boiling Liquid Expanding Vapor Explosion.” A BLEVE occurs when a confined liquid is heated above its atmospheric boiling point. The vapors expand and suddenly the container will explode.

Gasoline And Other Flammable Liquids And Gases

Gasoline is the most common flammable liquid found in the home. Used carelessly or improperly, it is the main cause of burn injuries among teenage boys. Gasoline is highly volatile due to its low flash point and easily vaporizes when exposed to air. Because it is heavier than air, it can seek out ignition sources such as a pilot light from a water heater, an electrical spark from a hand tool, or a lit cigarette dropped on the ground. Use care when filling lawn mowers, chain saws and other power tools with gasoline. Don’t refill a power tool with the engine running or while the manifold is hot. Use a funnel to pour the gas to avoid overfilling and spilling. If gasoline is spilled, allow it to vaporize completely. This will maintain a dry surface and reduce the chance of ignition. Never fill gasoline in a confined space, indoors or in a closed garage.

Never smoke around gasoline or other flammable liquids. Do not use it as a cleaning solvent or to remove grease and oil from automotive parts, your hands or clothing. Many people are seriously burned each year from these mistakes. Do not pour gasoline or other flammable liquids down the sink or into a storm drain. This creates an explosion potential.

Do not store gasoline in the house. It should be kept in a detached garage or in an outside storage area. Be absolutely sure it is clear from any ignition source such as a water heater, washer or dryer. Do not put gasoline in a cup, glass jug or old bleach bottle. It should be stored in an approved container, which is of heavy duty construction, has a spring-loaded, self-closing handle and is equipped with a safety-relief plug.

The city of Pasadena Fire Code allows a maximum of 10 gallons of flammable liquid to be stored on residential property and the liquid must be stored outside. Storage of flammable liquids above these amounts on any property, commercial or residential, requires a permit from the Pasadena Fire Department Bureau of Fire Prevention.

Don’t store gasoline in the trunk or back of the car. If you need to carry fuel, make sure the cap is tightly closed, and fill the can only three-fourths full, leaving an air space for vapor expansion.

Kerosene
Kerosene heaters are commonly used in many homes and businesses during colder months of the year to provide warmth. Kerosene is not as flammable as gasoline but just as dangerous. Fill a kerosene heater outdoors using a fill spout. Never fill a heating unit while hot and be sure the area is ventilated. Kerosene should be stored away from the home and any heat or ignition sources. It should be stored in an approved container like gasoline.

Other flammable liquids and gases
For health and safety reasons, paint should be used in a ventilated area. It should be stored in a secured can when not being used. Spray paint and paint solvents such as lacquer thinner, and paint brush cleaner are highly flammable and should be stored away from heat or ignition sources. Other cleaners such as naptha and toluene can be ignited by static electricity from one’s clothing. These products should be stored in secured containers away from the home in a detached storage area.

You may have a good reason to have benzene in the house – as a dry cleaning fluid or as a fluid for your cigarette lighter. Even then, you should keep the smallest quantity possible on hand…in a tightly stoppered container…stored securely away in a cool place. Benzene (with an “e”), otherwise known as benzol, is a very serious fire and health hazard (a known carcinogen). Do not use or store it under any circumstances.

Denatured alcohol may be required for some uses in the home, perhaps as a rubbing solution. While it is not quite as dangerous as some of the others, it is nonetheless highly flammable and should be used and stored with as much caution as any other flammable liquid.

Many pesticides are not only poisonous, but are highly flammable. When using pesticides, be sure you are away from any heat or ignition source. Always keep pesticides in their original containers.

Rags which have been used to wipe or clean petroleum products may spontaneously ignite. Cleaning rags soaked in oil, furniture polish, turpentine, or paint should be kept in a tightly-sealed metal container or thrown away immediately after use.

 

Survival Actions Regarding Flammable Liquids

Even if you have a small spill involving a flammable liquid, immediately open your windows to ventilate the area. Do not use fans or other electrical devices, which might provide an ignition source and cause an explosion. If you get some of the liquid on your skin, remove the affected clothing and wash your skin with soap and water. Soak your clothes in water before washing them. If a large spill occurs, evacuate the area immediately and call 9-1-1.

A small fire involving a flammable liquid can be controlled with a class B fire extinguisher. Never try to extinguish a flammable liquid fire with water. This could cause the fire to spread. Do not try to control a fire involving compressed gases such as butane or propane. They are extremely dangerous. For a large fire involving a flammable liquid, evacuate the area and call 9-1-1.

Fire Prevention Partnership

A working partnership between property owners, their neighbors and the City of Pasadena is the best defense against disastrous fires.

Pasadena’s Hazardous Vegetation Ordinance is designed to minimize fire danger by controlling the density and placement of flammable vegetation.

It does not recommend indiscriminate clearing of native chaparral and other vegetation that ploys an important role in erosion control and fire hazard reduction which can be achieved if all members of the Fire Prevention Partnership do their part.

The ordinance requires property owners to:

  • Remove all dead trees and keep grasses and weeds mowed within 100 feet of any building (including those on adjacent property), and within 10 feet of any roadway used for vehicular travel. This does not apply to ornamental shrubbery, trees or cultivated ground cover. In extremely hazardous areas, distances up to 200 feet from a structure and 50 feet from a fence or roadway may be required by the Fire Department.
  • Grasses and other vegetation located more than 30 feet from any building and less than 18 inches in height may be maintained where necessary to stabilize soil and prevent erosion. Large trees and shrubs in that area should be 18 feet apart.
  • Remove leafy foliage, deadwood, combustible ground cover, twigs or branches within three (3) feet of the ground from mature trees located within 100 feet of any building or within 10 feet of any roadway used for vehicular travel.
  • Remove dead limbs. branches and other combustible matter from trees or other growing vegetation adjacent to or overhanging any structure.
  • Remove any portion of a tree which extends within 10 feet of a chimney or stovepipe. Trim and maintain all vegetation away from curbline up to a height of 13.5 feet to accommodate emergency vehicles.
  • Maintain five (5) feet of vertical clearance between roof surfaces and any overhanging portions of trees.

These minimum standards are established to provide reasonable measures of controlling both fire and erosion hazards and to protect lives and property. Pasadena Fire Department personnel may introduce greater protection levels in high danger areas.

Enforcement

The goal of the Pasadena Fire Deportment is to establish a fire-safe community through voluntary compliance of informed property owners and residents.

  • Fire inspectors look at property to determine hazard levels.
  • Owners of property on which hazardous vegetation condition exists are asked to correct the problem.
  • If a property owner does not comply with the ordinance, a contractor will be hired to complete the necessary work.
  • Inspection and administration fees will be charged and the cost of correcting the hazard will be recovered as stated in the ordinance.

Enforcement involves several steps. They are:

  1. INSPECTION & NOTIFICATION
    Where a hazard exists, the Pasadena Fire Department issues a notice to the owner of record requiring an abatement within 30 days. The notice will be posted on the property and mailed to the owner if a mailing address is available. No fee will be charged for this initial inspection .
  2. REINSPECTION
    In the event that the violations identified to the property owner are not abated within the allotted time period, the property owner shall be charged, in addition to the initial inspection fee of $61.00, a reinspection fee of $298.00 which shall compensate the city for two reinspections, evidentiary photography as well as processing of misdemeanor charges and of necessary documentation and follow-up by the fire prevention inspector.
    Should more that 2 reinspections of a parcel be necessitated by the failure of the property owner to comply with the provisions of this chapter, an additional fee of $142.00 will be assessed for each such additional inspection.(Ord. 6444 § 2 (part), 1991)

Emergency Enforcement

The Hazardous Vegetation Ordinance provides that where the Fire Chief or his designee determines that the condition of a structure or property poses an immediate hazard to life or property, emergency action may be taken.

In such cases, efforts will be mode to contact the property owner and to request voluntary removal of the hazard at least 24 hours before abatement work is done.

Hazardous Vegetation Program

Pasadena residents and property owners con not ignore the fact that dry. poorly maintained vegetation creates an extreme fire danger to their homes.

Well-placed, well-maintained vegetation beautifies and controls erosion in residential neighborhoods. Poorly maintained vegetation is a natural, volatile fuel for fast-spreading wildfire – an invitation to disaster.

Property owners and residents can help protect their homes by joining in partnership with their neighbors and the City to assure compliance with the City’s Hazardous Vegetation Ordinance, as outlined here.

The goals are to maintain trees and vegetation that beautify and benefit a property, and to remove hazardous vegetation that provides a combustible fuel supply for wildfire. This is important to every resident of Pasadena, where the fire season is year round.

The Pasadena Fire Department wants to work with you to create the most fire-safe community possible. Department personnel welcome your questions and invitations to discuss vegetation management and other fire-related issues with organizations or individuals. Call: (626) 744-4668 or (626) 744-4655 for additional information or to arrange for a meeting with a Fire Department representative.

Smoke Detectors

The most important step in home heating safety is checking your smoke detector to see if it is working to alert you in case of fire.

Heating Systems

Cold weather means many residents will be turning on heating systems that have not been used since spring. Before heating systems are turned on, they should be checked to make sure they will operate properly and safely. A family member can do this, but remember to read and follow all instructions carefully. Instructions are supplied by the manufacturer and usually are located on the inside door cover near the pilot light. If you can’t locate the instructions or you’re unsure of what you’re doing, call a professional service person or someone qualified to insure the job is done correctly.

Filters

Filters should be changed at the beginning of the season and then checked monthly to make sure they are not clogged or blocking air flow. Remember most fires involving furnaces will take place in the cold hours before dawn when the furnace must work the hardest and people are sleeping most heavily.

Wall Heaters

Wall heaters should be checked for proper ignition and proper ventilation. Soot or black marks on the wall can mean that the burner jets are dirty or not adjusted to burn the fuel properly. This means higher amounts of carbon monoxide are being created. Without ventilation to the outside, carbon monoxide fumes accumulate in the home. A flushed face or a slight headache can be the first signs of carbon monoxide poisoning. If this happens, get everyone out of the house and call 9-1-1 for the fire department from a neighbor’s house.

Portable Heaters

Space heaters need at least three feet of space between the heater and combustibles like drapes, furniture and beds. Also, make sure small children cannot get near space heaters and suffer contact burns from touching them. As with any electrical appliance, check the cord to make sure it is not frayed or worn. Extension cords should not be used with electric space heaters. Electric space heaters also are dangerous in the bathroom because of cramped space and radiated heat as well as the danger of electrical appliances and water. Never touch an electric space heater if your hands are wet or if you are in contact with water. Never leave a space heater on when you go to bed or leave the house.

Kerosene Heaters

The Fire Department does not recommend the use of kerosene heaters in homes. If you must use a kerosene heater, be sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions carefully. Use only the manufacturer’s approved fuel. Store the fuel outside the house and always let the heater cool before filling it outside the home. Kerosene heaters must have adequate ventilation because they use up oxygen inside a room as they operate.

Charcoal Briquettes And Barbecues

Charcoal briquettes and barbecues never should be used for cooking or heating inside the home or any other closed area. They can quickly fill a closed space with carbon monoxide fumes.

Several recent fires in high rise apartment buildings have awakened renewed interest in fire safety on the part of the public, and in particular, apartment dwellers themselves. For this reason, the Pasadena Fire Department has developed this guide for all high rise residents if a fire emergency should arise.

Since high rise buildings are of fire resistive construction and possess reliable enclosed stairways, fires are generally confined to individual apartment furnishings or possibly the contents of one floor level.

Thus, it is important first of all to understand that fire in a high rise building is no cause for panic. The Pasadena Fire Department responds to all high rise building alarms with a heavy complement of firefighters and equipment, experienced in rescue and fire control operations. Upon arrival, this force will promptly effect necessary rescues, confine and control the fire and ventilate the smoke from the building.

Nevertheless, it must be realized that if a fire occurs within your apartment or on or close to your floor level, it will most likely be necessary for you to seek safe refuge as soon as possible. Therefore, it is extremely important that you, as an occupant, become well acquainted with the stairways provided in your building and procedures to follow in case of fire.

Fire Or Smoke Near Your Apartment

  • Immediately call the Fire Department.  Tell them the floor and apartment number as well as the street address and what you have seen.  Don’t assume that anyone else has already called.
  • Before you try to leave your apartment, feel the door with the back of your hand. If the door feels warm to the touch within five seconds,do not attempt to open it.  This indicates the presence of a dangerous fire condition in the corridor.
  • If the door is not warm to the touch, carefully open it a small amount so as to check for the possible presence of smoke in the corridor.
  • If you feel the corridor can be used, alert occupants of the other apartments on your floor and proceed to the closest exit stairway. Be sure to close your door and the stairway door behind you.  DO NOT ATTEMPT TO USE THE ELEVATORS!
  • If your apartment door is warm to the or if there is heavy smoke in the corridor, keep the door closed. Seal the cracks around the door and any other place where smoke appears to be entering with a wet towel.
  • If smoke enters your apartment, and you have windows which can be operated, open one slightly. in apartments having windows which cannot be opened, merely remain close to the floor.

However, the possibility exists that a fire in an adjacent apartment or below your apartment may spread to your apartment via the combustible nature of drapes, curtains, ect. If this condition occurs, close your windows and attempt to remove the combustibles at once.

Know Your Building

Each occupant should be familiar with the location of all exit stairways on his/her floor. In addition, occupants should discuss in advance what they will do if the closest exit cannot be used during a fire emergency.

Following the above suggested steps and doing pre-fire planning, you will greatly reduce your chance of being killed or injured in a fire in your building. Since no two fires are alike, plan carefully and learn your building layout well so that you can change your exit plan as conditions warrant.

Upon written request from a tenant organization the Fire Prevention Bureau / Public Education Section will provide a speaker to discuss fire safety information.

For further information contact:

Pasadena Fire Department
Public Education
(626) 356-9644

Fourth Of July

The Fourth of July traditionally presents the biggest fire danger to citizens and is the cause of a great number of fires and burn injuries due to fireworks. The Fire Department responds to more fires on this day than any other in the year. Most occur in dry brush and grass, but several homes are destroyed or damaged on this holiday. Fires are caused by careless handling of fireworks in areas exposed to sparks or live fireworks.

Nationally, more than $36 million in property is damaged each year due to fireworks.

Most fireworks burn injuries involve children. These are usually burns to the hands and eyes causing vision impairment and disfiguring scars. Sparklers are the biggest danger to children. A tip temperature at the end of the sparkler reaches 1800 degrees Fahrenheit and can easily cause a burn.

Yes, people can die from fireworks and the fires they cause. In 1985, 26 people were killed this way. That’s a large improvement compared to 1902, when fireworks were legal in most states. In that year, fireworks and fireworks-related fires killed more than 200 people.

The city of Pasadena explicitly prohibits the sale or use of any fireworks. Only those people with special licenses are allowed “controlled” fireworks displays.Citizens who wish to report illegal use of fireworks should call 9-1-1.

Some people think that just because some fireworks are legal in some states, they are more safe. The largest share of fireworks injuries are caused by Class C fireworks, the kind that are legal in many states.

Leave fireworks to the professionals.

Restrictions on fireworks are for a good cause. No matter how small or large a fireworks may be, it is a potential fire starter. But it is still possible to celebrate and enjoy the holiday. Families can consult the newspaper or local activity calendar and attend one of several approved, licensed fireworks displays.

Halloween

 

Halloween is meant to be spooky and fun but it’s also important to keep it safe for your children, your friends and yourself.

A simple ghost costume made from an ordinary bed sheet can be consumed by flames if ignited. Purchase only flame-retardant costumes and masks. And be sure costumes fit properly to prevent tripping and falling. Masks should allow full vision.

If trick-or-treating door-to-door, wear something reflective, carry a flashlight and travel in groups for safety. Keep well off the streets and remove masks before crossing the streets. Better yet, have a spooky party and stay in with your friends.

Check all treats carefully before eating them. Report anything suspicious. Instead of a candle to light a jack-o-lantern, use a small flashlight or a liquid light that glows for several hours after you bend it.

Never use combustible materials in a haunted house, especially styrofoam and other plastics, gauze type materials and other loose flammables such as leaves and papers. These materials can quickly cause the spread of fire. This situation can be especially dangerous when the fire starts in a confined space such as the dark interior of a haunted house display.

Christmas

Trees
Christmas trees that are not kept moist can present a very serious fire hazard. A dried out Christmas tree can be totally consumed by fire in less than 30 seconds. Most trees sold have been cut out of the state and have been drying out since they were harvested, which could have been as late as mid-November. Take special precautions when buying your Christmas tree. Trees with brown shedding needles should be rejected. If the tree looks green and fresh, take a long needle and bend it between your thumb and forefinger. If it snaps, the tree is too dry. Look for trees with needles that bend. When the trunk of a tree is bounced on the ground, a shower of falling needles shows that tree is dry.

When you bring a tree home, cut about an inch off the end of the trunk. This will remove the dried end and allow the tree to absorb water. Make checkerboard cuts into the base at different angles to make a greater surface for water absorption.

Always turn off lights on trees and other decorations when you go to bed or leave your home. A short circuit in any of this equipment could cause a fire. Never use electric lights on a metallic tree. Damaged insulation in lighting on a metallic tree could cause the entire tree to be charged with electricity. To avoid this danger, use colored spotlights above or beside a metal tree, never fastened onto it.

Keep children away from light sets and electrical decorations. All lights present the problem of shock and casualty hazards for curious kids. When you are stringing the lights on your tree, be careful how you place them. Keep all bulbs turned away from gifts and paper ornaments. Lights in windows can cause curtains and drapes to ignite.

Candles
Candles are a traditional and beautiful part of the season. But they are still a direct source of fire in your home. Keep candles a safe distance from other things. And remember that a flickering flame is a thing of fascination to little children. Keep candles out of their reach.

  • Never use lighted candles on a tree or near other evergreens.
  • Always use non-flammable holders.
  • Keep candles away from other decorations and wrapping paper.
  • Place candles where they cannot be knocked down or blown over.

Paper
Dispose of gift wrappings soon after opening presents. A room full of paper lying around on the floor is just one more holiday hazard. Place trash in an approved container. Do not burn wrappings in the fireplace. They may ignite suddenly and cause a flash fire.

Christmas Gifts
One of the best Christmas gifts you can get someone is a smoke detector. A smoke detector is worth so much, possibly a loved one’s life, yet so inexpensive. Over 90 percent of fire deaths occur in residential dwellings between 11 p.m. and 6 a.m. when occupants are asleep. Smoke detectors alert occupants when a fire is still small and there is still time to escape.

Holiday Plants
Holly and mistletoe can be fatal to a small child and the smaller the child, the smaller the dose that can cause serious medical problems. Poinsettia leaves are not fatal if swallowed, but can cause a skin rash and an upset stomach. Call 9-1-1 if your children ingest any of these holiday plants.

Trimming The Tree
When choosing the finishing touches for decorating your tree, purchase tinsel or artificial icicles of a non-leaded material. Leaded materials may be hazardous if eaten by children or pets.

Avoid any decorations that tend to break easily or have sharp edges. Keep tree trimmings that are small or have removable parts out of the reach of your child. These pieces may be swallowed.

Lights
Use only lights that have been tested for safety. Identify these by the UL label from Underwriters Laboratories or another reputable testing agency. Check each set of lights for broken or cracked sockets, frayed or bare wires or loose connections.

Check labels of lights to be used outdoors to see that they are suitable for outdoor use. Never use indoor lights outside. Fasten outdoor lights securely to trees, walls or other firm support to protect them from wind damage. Use no more than three sets of lights per single extension. Read the manufacturer’s instructions carefully and do not use more than the recommended number of lights in one circuit.

Each family member must know what to do in the event of a fire in their home. Unless a small fire can be easily controlled, it is recommended that fighting the fire be left to professional firefighters and that family members escape safely from the home.

A home escape plan must be created and practiced so that each person knows exactly what to do. It also is important to practice Exit Drills In The Home (EDITH).

Most residential fires occur between 8 p.m. and 8 a.m. Deaths from residential fires occur in greater numbers between midnight and 4 a.m. when most people are asleep. An average of 800 fires strike residential buildings each day in the United States. More than 6,500 persons die each year from fire – more than half of them children and senior citizens. The majority of these deaths are in home fires.

Regardless of the cause of the fire, a home may be filled with smoke. This is a very dangerous situation. Family members may be unable to see very well. The smoke and toxic gases may cause dizziness and disorientation. In the confusion, one can easily become lost or trapped in the home. Family members must understand that their safety depends upon quickly leaving the home. It has been proven that exit drills reduce chances of panic and injury in fires and that trained and informed people have a much better chance to survive fires in their home.

Plan Ahead

The first step in escaping a fire in the home is to plan ahead. By installing smoke detectors in the home and being sure they are in good working order, family members can be alerted to the presence of smoke or fire before it is too late. Together, family members can decide on an escape plan in the event of a fire in the home.

Bedroom doors should be closed while people are sleeping. It takes fire 10 to 15 minutes to burn through a wooden door. That’s 10 to 15 minutes more for the inhabitant to escape. Next, family members should visit each bedroom and figure out two escape routes –

  1. The normal exit
  2. The other exit through a door or a window

 

Plan An Escape Route

Each member of the family should know how to get safely outside by at least two routes. Family members should practice opening their windows to become familiar with their operation. Jammed windows should be identified and repaired. If, during a fire, a window is jammed, it may be broken out with an object and a blanket or towel placed over the frame to cover shards of glass. However, it is much safer to open a window than it is to break the glass out.

The largest loss of life in a residential fire in Phoenix occurred in 1987. A family of four was trapped inside their home and couldn’t get out because security bars were bolted on the windows. If a family feels they need the additional security, “firesafe bars” should be installed or retrofitted. An exit should not require special tools. A key is considered a special tool. The Phoenix Fire Department advises that bars on windows should have a single action quick release device.

Realize The Danger Of Smoke

Each member of the family should understand the importance of crawling low under smoke. Smoke and heat rise so the best place to find fresher, cooler air is near the floor. When a person is caught in a building filled with smoke, they should drop on hands and knees and crawl to the nearest exit. Test all closed doors before opening them. Feel the back of the door. If it is hot, don’t open it. Turn and go to the second route of exit. If the door is not hot, open slowly but be prepared to slam it closed again if there are flames.

Practice what to do if you become trapped. Since doors hold back smoke and firefighters are adept at rescue, the chances of survival are excellent. Close doors between you and the smoke. Stuff the cracks and cover vents to keep smoke out. If there’s a phone, call in your exact location to the fire department even if they are on the scene. Wait at the window and signal with a sheet or flashlight or something visible.

Establish A Safe Meeting Place

A special meeting place should be established a safe distance from the house. It could be a mailbox, the neighbor’s driveway or a large tree in the yard. Whatever it is, it must be something that is stationary and won’t be moved (such as a car). This is where everyone meets in the event of a fire. It also prevents family members from wandering around the neighborhood looking for one another, or worse, being tempted to re-enter the burning house for one thought to be trapped inside.

Once outside at the special meeting place, a person can be sent to the neighbor’s to call 9-1-1. If anyone is missing, give that information to the fire department immediately and tell them where the probable location of the missing person could be. Under no circumstances should anyone re-enter the burning building.

Provide For Those Requiring Additional Help

Special provisions may be required for infants, young children, disabled or the elderly who may need additional help when escaping. These provisions should be included in the home fire escape plan and discussed with family members.

When afraid, children commonly seek sheltered places such as a closet or under the bed. Encourage them to exit outside. Do not allow them to hide. Make sure children can operate the windows, descend a ladder, or lower themselves to the ground through a window. (Slide out on the stomach, feet first. Hang on with both hands. Bend the knees when landing.) Lower children to the ground before you exit from the window. They may panic and not follow if an adult goes first.

Have children practice saying the fire department number, the family name, and street address into the phone.

Practice Your Fire Escape Plan

One very good step in the planning of a home fire escape plan is to make a floor diagram of the house. Mark the regular and emergency escape routes, as well as windows, doors, stairs, halls.

A good way to practice the effectiveness of a home fire escape plan is to position each family member in his or her bed, turn all the lights off, and activate the smoke detector by depressing the test switch. Each family member should help “awaken” the others by yelling the alert. Family members should exit their rooms according to the plan, crawl low under smoke, practice feeling doors for heat, and meet in the designated location outside the home.

Not all “homes” are single residential structures but include apartments and other types of buildings. Some additional discussion may be helpful in the home escape plan.

Most high-rise or multi-story apartment complexes post fire escape plans for all residents to see and follow. However, these plans seldom include escape routes for each apartment. Family members must develop and practice an evacuation plan for their individual apartment.

Exit Safely From A Structure

Jumping from upper floors of a building should be avoided. However, it is possible to hang from a second story window and drop feet first to the ground without significant injury. A sprained ankle or broken leg is better than dying. Parents can purchase fire ladders for the bedrooms, or instruct children to use an adjacent porch or garage roof to await rescue by the fire department.

When exiting such a structure, do not use the elevator. Elevators are notorious for stopping at the fire floor and killing the people inside. A power failure may cause them to stop in between floors. Use the fire escape or an enclosed fire resistive stairwell to exit.

As a family, explore the building so that every exit, is familiar, including those from storage, laundry and recreation rooms. If the hallways become smoke-filled as the result of a fire, memory can help in finding the exits.

Look for these important features in the building – enclosed exit stairways, clearly-marked exits, clean hallways and lobbies, automatic sprinklers, fire alarm systems and smoke detectors.

Remember, Plan Ahead!

Remember, the first step toward escaping a fire is to plan ahead. Practice a home fire escape plan throughout the year and be sure that if anything should change around the home, it is included in the home fire escape plan.

Every 15 seconds, a fire department responds to a fire somewhere in the United States. A residential fire occurs every 66 seconds. There is one civilian fire death every 118 minutes. There is one civilian fire injury every 18 minutes.

The Nature Of Fire

Fires are likely to start in many places in the home including the kitchen, living room, bedroom and storage areas such as, the attic, basement, workroom or storeroom. Causes of fire include overheated or overloaded electrical wire, cigarette ashes, smoldering ashes in the couch, sparks from the fireplace, unattended outdoor fires and barbecues, appliances in poor repair and unattended cooking in the kitchen.

To understand the dangers of fire in the home, first understand the nature of fire. Fire occurs any time four elements are present – fuel, heat, oxygen and the chemical chain reaction. When these four elements are together, fire occurs. If any one element is removed, fire is prevented. These elements are collectively known as the “Fire Tetrahedron” or the “four faces” of fire.

Fuel, such as wood, paper or clothing (essentially anything that can burn) provides the energy for the fire. Oxygen, found in the air we breathe, is required for the burning process to occur. Heat provides a source of ignition, such as a match or a lighter, and causes the continued vaporization of solids such as wood in flammable gases. The chemical chain reaction or high molecular activity is needed to keep the fire burning. If any one of the four components is missing, fire cannot start. Removal of any one of these four causes fire to be extinguished. When fire occurs, an oxidation/reduction reaction takes place. This chemical term means a fuel, such as wood, is “reduced” in form in the presence of an oxidizing agent, oxygen and changes chemical make-up. Fire and heat cause the wood that is composed primarily of hydrogen and carbon molecules, to decompose thereby releasing energy in the form of more heat and flame. The wood is reduced and gives off carbon dioxide and hydrogen gases into the atmosphere and turns into ash (primarily carbon molecules).

Products with a high carbon and hydrogen content are the most effective fuels or “reducing agents.” The most common of these are “complex hydrocarbons” such as gasoline, propane, butane and natural gas.

An oxidizing substance provides oxygen that is necessary for the burning or oxidations/reduction process to happen. The purest oxidizing substance is oxygen gas itself. Of the air we breathe, 21 percent is composed of oxygen. Thus, air is the most common oxidizing substance found. Other oxidizing substances include chlorine, bromide, iodine and ozone. For something to burn, it must first reach ignition temperature. Consider an unintentional fire in a trash can. A match that burns at more than 400 degrees Fahrenheit is dropped into a trash can. The embers ignite paper in the can and a fire begins. Once the fire starts, significant heat is generated. This heat causes unburned paper next to the flame to increase its molecular activity. The unburned paper vaporizes and turns to a gas. This flammable gas provides more fuel to the fire and it continues to burn.

The chain reaction means that the burning process must be allowed to continue in order for fire to burn. The collision of molecules in the oxidation/reduction process causes heat to build up, which sustains the combustion process.

Anytime just one of the four sides of the fire tetrahedron is removed, the possibility of fire is eliminated. A home fire inspection does just that. When a fire hazard is identified, one side from the fire tetrahedron has been removed. For example, we know that “Smokers Need Watchers.” If a live cigarette ash is discovered behind a couch after a party and extinguished, the heat side of the fire tetrahedron is eliminated.

If a pile of rubble lying next to the house is discarded, the fuel for a potential fire is removed from the fire tetrahedron. If a grease fire is covered with a lid, oxygen is removed from the fire tetrahedron. If the fuel cells are removed from a nuclear reactor, the chain reaction is reduced.

Home Inspection

One of the best ways to prevent fire in the home is to do a home inspection specifically looking for the fire hazards or preparing for emergency measures in case of a fire. Inspect your home one section at a time:

Kitchen
All electrical appliances and tools should have a testing agency label. Have the appliances repaired if they aren’t working right. If an appliance gets wet, have it serviced.

  • Check the cords on all appliances. If they are worn or frayed, have them repaired.
  • Don’t overload the outlets.
  • Make sure appliance cords are kept on the counter to prevent them from being pulled down by young children.
  • Don’t store things over the stove.  People get burned while reaching.
  • Turn pot handles so children can’t pull them down.
  • Wear tight sleeves when cooking.  Loose-fitting garments can catch fire.
  • Check to see if curtains or towel racks are close to the stove.
  • Check to see if the stove and oven are clean of grease and oil.
  • Be sure a fire extinguisher is placed in the kitchen.  The Phoenix Fire Department recommends a minimum 2A10BC extinguisher.
  • All cleaning products and other chemicals should be stored out of the reach of young children, not under the sink. Cleaning products and other chemicals also should be stored separately from foods.
  • Be sure microwave ovens have room to “breathe,” all the vents are cleared of obstructions.

Living room or family room

  • Be sure portable space heaters are at least three feet away from anything that can catch fire including walls and curtains.
  • Use a metal or glass fireplace screen.  Have the chimney checked and cleaned regularly.
  • Put lighters and matches where small children won’t find them.
  • Too small or too full ashtrays are no good.  Ashtrays should be large, deep and emptied frequently, but only when all signs of heat and burning are gone.
  • Before going to bed, look under cushions for burning cigarettes.  Check carpeting where ashtrays have been used.
  • Allow plenty of air space around the TV and stereo to prevent overheating.  If these appliances are not working correctly, be sure to have them repaired.  In the meantime, unplug them.
  • Check for worn or frayed extension cords or other electrical cords.
  • Extension cords should not run under rugs and carpets or be looped over nails or other sharp objects that could cause them to fray.
  • Check for overloaded outlets or extension cords.
  • Electrical sockets should be covered with a child-proof fitting.
  • Lamp and light fixtures should be used with bulbs with wattage at or below maximum prescribed by the manufacturer.

Bathroom

  • Check for overloaded extension cords and outlets.
  • Don’t place or use any appliances near water.
  • Make sure all medicines and cosmetics are kept out of the reach of small children. Install safety latches on drawers, cupboards and medicine cabinets if the home has small children.
  • Dump old or outdated medicine into the toilet.

Bedrooms

  • Smoke detectors should be tested regularly to be sure they are functioning correctly.
  • Have a working flashlight next to each bed.
  • Again, check for overloaded outlets, extension cords and heaters that are too close to combustible items.
  • Each member of the family should know what to do in the event of a fire.
  • Do all family members know the fire escape plan?
  • Plan two escapes from each bedroom in case of a fire.
  • If you smoke, DO NOT smoke in bed.

Basement, Garage and Storage

  • Store gasoline and other flammables in tight metal containers. Don’t use flammable liquids near heat, a pilot light or while smoking.
  • Have heating equipment checked yearly.
  • Clean up workbench.
  • If a fuse blows, find the problem. Be sure to replace a fuse with one the correct size.
  • Don’t store things near the furnace or heater.
  • Get rid of stored newspaper or other rubbish.  Newspapers stored in a damp, warm place may ignite spontaneously.
  • Oily, greasy rags should be kept in labeled and sealed non-glass containers, preferably metal.
  • Keep all chemicals, paints, etc. in their original containers.
  • Set your water heater at 130 degrees Fahrenheit.

Outdoors

  • Is your roof fire retardant?  Roofing material, whether it is asphalt shingle, shake shingle, tile or slate can be treated with fire retardant processes.
  • Don’t ever use gasoline on a grill. Once the fire has been started, never use lighter fluid or gasoline.  Use dry kindling to revive the fire.
  • Move the lawnmower away from gasoline fumes before starting.  Allow the engine to cool before refueling.
  • Install a lightning protection system.
  • Don’t store more of anything than is needed.

Things To Think About

  • Smoking in bed, in a chair, or on the sofa when tired, drinking or under medication.
  • Spraying aerosols while smoking or near a space heater, range or other ignition sources.
  • Using a cigarette lighter after spilling fluid on the hands or clothing.
  • Leaning against a range for warmth or standing too near a heater or fireplace.
  • Single deadbolt locks with inside thumb turns wherever possible. When a double key deadbolt is used, such as in a door with windows or other openings, a key should be left in the interior lock whenever anyone is inside the home.
  • If window security bars are desired, install or retrofit windows with bars that have a single action quick release. Every bedroom must have minimum of one exit that can be opened to the outside of the home. You must be able to use the exit without special tools. A key is considered a special tool. The Pasadena Fire Department advises that bars on windows should have a single action quick release device.

In All Areas Of Your Home

  • Cover all unused electrical outlets.
  • Arrange electrical cords so they neither dangle loosely nor entangle with one another.
  • Matches, lighters, and all flammable materials should be kept out of the reach of children.
  • Radiator covers should be made of a non-heat absorbent material.
  • Wood stoves and fireplaces should have screens and a gate, so that children cannot wander too close.
  • Fireplaces and, especially, chimneys should be cleaned and inspected by a reputable professional every year.
  • There should be a smoke detector installed on every level of your home and in the hallways leading to the bedrooms. It is an extra precaution to have them installed in each bedroom.
  • Set the thermostats on water heaters between 135 and 130 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Formulate an escape plan for every room in your home, with an alternate plan in case the first option is blocked by fire. Practice these escapes until every member of your family can
    perform them automatically.
  • Set up a safe place to meet outside.
  • Keep flammable materials away from heat sources.
  • Try to use non-flammable or fire-resistant materials for curtains and upholstery.
  • Use space heaters only on noncombustible surfaces and at least three feet from furniture and walls.
  • Store all flammable and combustible products in cool, well ventilated places, locked securely and/or out of the reach of children.

Basement And Garage

  • Flammable liquids such as fuels should not be kept in the house.
  • Keep paints, thinners, and other combustible chemicals out of child’s reach.  Ideally, these materials should be kept in a locked metal cabinet, away from heat sources.
  • Keep dirty rags in a sealed metal can or dispose of them.
  • When not in actual use, lawn mowers and all gas powered appliances should be stored empty.
  • Keep electrical outlets covered and do not leave anything plugged in, when not in use.
  • Store gasoline only in metal cans approved by your fire department.

Kitchen

    • Turn pot handles in while using burners on the stove.
    • Store cleansers and other chemicals out of child’s reach, in cabinets with childproof locks.
    • Make sure children are not near when working with hot liquids.
    • Keep cookies and sweets away from the stove.
    • Make sure electrical cords are not hanging over the counter and appliances are unplugged when not in use.
    • Keep fire extinguisher near farthest exit from the stove.
    • Do not use water to douse a flaming pot. Smother with cover or baking sheet or use fire extinguisher.

 

Bathrooms

  • Tap water should never be hot enough to scald wrist. Run cold water in tub first, and then use hot water to warm to desired temperature.
  • Check in on children often. Never leave a child unsupervised for an extended period of time.
  • Make sure all medications and chemicals are out of child’s reach and/or in child-proof locked cabinets.

Bedrooms

  • In case of fire, it’s a good practice to keep water in plastic bottles in bedroom closets to dampen cloths for face protection during escape.
  • If you have smoke detectors in the hallways, you can sleep with the bedroom doors open.
  • Keep drapes away from heat sources, including lamps.
  • Keep electrical cords from dangling.
  • Try to avoid the use of extension cords.  If you must use them, make sure they hug the wall.  Under no circumstances should any electric wires cross over the middle of the room.

Fires, burns and property damage associated with children playing with matches are common events in the United States and a number of programs and procedures have been developed to try to control this problem. In the past few years, a new source of ignition has become very common – the cigarette lighter.

With the increase in the use of lighters rather than matches, there follows an increase in lighter-related fires and burns associated with misuse by children. There also seems to be an alteration in the age distribution. Lighters are easier to ignite than matches, in many cases, so younger children more frequently are involved in lighter-associated fires/burns. Several reports now have implicated children as young as 18-20 months old.

Children have a natural curiosity about fire. It has a magical appeal, which captures their attention. They see adults start the barbecue or light a cigarette. Since they mimic adults in many ways, they want to mimic fire starting behavior as well. Children’s curiosity about fire should not be discouraged, but channeled into appropriate behavior.

Children are at high risk for burn injuries largely due to their own experimentation with matches and fire. Since children have difficulty appreciating the use of matches as a tool, they most often will misuse them. Children need to understand that big fires start small. They need to distinguish between appropriate and inappropriate use of matches and lighters. They also need to understand the risks and dangers associated with their use.

Young children should not handle matches and lighters and they should be taught that they should “tell an adult” when they find matches or lighters in their environment. They should be taught to “leave matches and lighters where they find them” and “get an adult to come back and pick them up.” This avoids the problem of a child handling matches or a lighter and possibly attempting to ignite either.

Children can easily identify tools in the home or workplace. They understand that a tool can be used a right way and a wrong way. A hammer is used to drive nails into wood, and a saw is used to cut lumber.

A match is also a tool. It can be used the right way, or a wrong way. Using a match to light a barbecue, start a fire in the fireplace, or ignite the pilot light on the water heater, are proper ways to use a match.

Be sure the child knows that matches and lighters are tools, not toys. There are toys that look like lighters. These toys should not be given to children. Adults have been known to give a lighter that no longer works to children to play with. This should not happen since the child doesn’t know the difference between a lighter that does work and one that doesn’t.

Many fires have been caused by children playing with matches or lighters due to curiosity, carelessness or anger. Telling a child “Don’t play with matches” may not have the desired effect, and, in fact may encourage the opposite. In some cases, children may exhibit more than just a simple interest in fire and may frequently discuss or experiment with it. Sometimes when a child has a problem with starting fires or playing with fire, the child is responding to problems in the home, at school or with peers. Fire setting problems can be prevented if identified early and the child is provided with professional counseling. If you discover burnt matches or paper, or believe a child has been playing with lighters or setting fires, call the Pasadena Fire Department at (626)-744-4655

Here are safety rules that adults should be aware of concerning matches and lighters:

  • Buy match books that have a striking surface on the back cover.
  • Close the cover of the match book or box before striking the match.
  • Strike a match away from the direction of the body.
  • When striking a match, hold it an arm’s length away.
  • Only use matches or lighters when nothing else is distracting you.
  • Matches or lighters are very dangerous around flammable liquids such as gasoline.
  • A waste basket is not an ash tray.
  • Throw a match away only after the flame is extinguished and cool to the touch.
  • Check your lighter regularly for cracks, leaks and other defects.
  • If lighter fluid is spilled on or near the lighter, it should be cleaned off completely before lighting the flame.
  • Persons with restricted mobility or reflexes and elderly persons must use extra caution with lighters and matches.

We’ve all seen the movies where the hero enters a burning building to rescue someone. Flames are everywhere and there’s not very much smoke. The hero storms from room to room, standing straight up and looks through the flames for the victim. He finds the victim easily enough, picks her up in his arms and runs out of the house…a hero.

Unfortunately, that is a long shot from the way it really is. Unless an arsonist has set several fires, there is usually only one point of origin for a fire. That one point could smolder for quite some time. Even after flames flare, a tremendous amount of smoke is generated. In a realistic situation, our hero would rush into a burning building and find a room thick with black, toxic smoke. Visibility would be zero. He may not even see any flames because there would be so much smoke. If he was standing straight up as he entered the building, he would probably fall down unconscious in a matter of seconds because he would be inhaling that poisonous smoke. Movie producers would run out of heroes quickly.

Smoke Rises

In a fire, heat rises. Therefore, smoke rises. In the early stages of a structure fire, it is very common for smoke to accumulate near the ceiling. That is why smoke detectors are always placed high on a wall or ceiling. They detect the first signs of smoke, which rises to the top of the room. Firefighters know this and that is why, when they enter a burning building, they are down on their hands and knees. There is far less smoke near the floor and the visibility is much better.

Smoke Inhalation Can Be Fatal

In most cases, fire fatalities result from victims who have succumbed to smoke inhalation long before burn injuries occur. Eighty percent of those who die in residential fires have first inhaled smoke and other toxic gases.

Fire produces many gases that are highly poisonous. These are found in smoke and include carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide, hydrogen cyanide and hydrogen sulfide. They displace oxygen in the room, which can cause suffocation.

Fire also consumes oxygen. This reduces the amount of oxygen available for persons to breathe. When a person is exposed to the toxins of smoke, muscle control is lost, judgment is impaired and the ability to reason diminishes. At a time when a fire emergency is present, it is important to be able to make quick decisions. Yet, the toxic gases, superheated air, smoke and limited visibility may cause someone to act in an inappropriate or irrational manner. It is vital to recognize smoke in the home and be able to quickly escape by crawling low under smoke.

Drop And Crawl

When you are caught in a building with smoke, drop to your hands and knees and begin crawling to the nearest exit.

If you come to a closed door, don’t open it before testing it for heat. Place the back of your hand against the door. If it is hot, don’t open it. Turn around and seek another exit. If it is not hot, slowly open it but be prepared to slam it closed again if you should encounter flames.

Continue to crawl until you get outside. You may have to use the walls of the building to help you. Just place your shoulder against the wall and keep crawling with your shoulder against the wall. By doing so, you will reduce your chances of getting lost in the smoke.

The best plan is to have a pre-arranged meeting place outside the house where everyone should meet and be accounted for.

General Information About Smoke Detectors

Smoke detectors are devices that are mounted on the wall or ceiling and automatically sound a warning when they sense smoke or other products of combustion. When people are warned early enough about a fire, they can escape before it spreads. Prices start at about $6 and up.

Every year thousands of people die from fires in the home. Fire kills an estimated 4,000 Americans every year. Another 30,000 people are seriously injured by fire each year. Property damage from fire costs us at least $11.2 billion yearly. Most fire victims feel that fire would “never happen to them.”

Although we like to feel safe at home, about two-thirds of our nation’s fire deaths happen in the victim’s own home. The home is where we are at the greatest risk and where we must take the most precautions. Most deaths occur from inhaling smoke or poisonous gases, not from the flames.

Most fatal fires occur in residential buildings between 11 p.m. and 6 a.m. when occupants are more likely to be asleep. More than 90 percent of fire deaths in buildings occur in residential dwellings.

A Johns Hopkins University study, funded by the United States Fire Administration, found that 75 percent of residential fire deaths and 84 percent of residential fire injuries could have been prevented by smoke detectors.

There are two basic type of smoke detectors:

  1. Ionization detectors – Ionization detectors contain radioactive material that ionizes the air, making an electrical path. When smoke enters, the smoke molecules attach themselves to the ions. The change in electric current flow triggers the alarm. The radioactive material is called americium. It’s a radioactive metallic element produced by bombardment of plutonium with high energy neutrons. The amount is very small and not harmful.
  2. Photo-electric detectors – These type of detectors contain a light source (usually a bulb) and a photocell, which is activated by light. Light from the bulb reflects off the smoke particles and is directed towards the photocell. The photocell then is activated to trigger the alarm.

Choosing A Smoke Detector

When choosing a smoke detector, there are several things to consider. Think about which areas of the house you want to protect, where fire would be most dangerous, how many you will need, etc.

The Pasadena Fire Department recommends that every home have a smoke detector outside each sleeping area (inside as well if members of the household sleep with the door closed) and on every level of the home, including the basement. The National Fire Alarm code requires a smoke detector inside each sleeping area for new construction. On floors without bedrooms, detectors should be installed in or near living areas, such as dens, living rooms or family rooms. Smoke detectors are not recommended for kitchens.

The safest bet is to have both kinds or a combination detector with a battery back up. Be sure to check for a testing laboratory label on the detector. It means that samples of that particular model have been tested under operating conditions. Check to see if it is easy to maintain and clean. Be sure bulbs and batteries are easy to purchase and convenient to install.

Installation

The placement of smoke detectors is very important. Sleeping areas need the most protection. One detector in a short hallway outside the bedroom area is usually adequate. Hallways longer than 30 feet should have one at each end. For maximum protection, install a detector in each bedroom.

Be sure to keep the detector away from fireplaces and wood stoves to avoid false alarms. Place smoke detectors at the top of each stairwell and at the end of each long hallway. Smoke rises easily through stairwells. If you should put a smoke detector in your kitchen, be sure to keep it away from cooking fumes or smoking areas.

Proper mounting of a smoke detector also is important. You can mount many detectors by yourself, but those connected to your household wiring should have their own separate circuit and be installed by a professional electrician. If you mount your detector on the ceiling, be sure to keep it at least 18 inches away from dead air space near walls and corners. If you mount it on the wall, place it six to 12 inches below the ceiling and away from corners. Keep them high because smoke rises.

Never place them any closer than three feet from an air register that might re-circulate smoke. Don’t place them near doorways or windows where drafts could impair the detector operation. Don’t place them on an uninsulated exterior wall or ceiling. Temperature extremes can affect the batteries.

Maintenance

Keeping smoke detectors in good condition is easy. Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions. Be sure to replace the batteries every year or as needed. Most models will make a chirping, popping or beeping sound when the battery is losing its charge. When this sound is heard, install a fresh battery, preferably an alkaline type.

Replace bulbs every three years or as needed. Keep extras handy. Check the smoke detector every 30 days by releasing smoke or pushing the test button. Clean the detector face and grillwork often to remove dust and grease. Never paint a smoke detector as it will hamper its function. Check your detector if you’ve been away from home.

If you’re looking for a novel gift for somebody, consider giving them a smoke detector. It’s an interesting gift that can save lives and it shows that you care.

Drowning Fact Sheet

Drowning is the second leading cause of unintentional injury-related deaths to children ages 14 and under. A temporary lapse in supervision is a common factor in most drownings and near-drownings. Child drownings can happen in a matter of seconds–in the time it takes to answer the phone. There is often no splashing to warn of trouble. Children can drown in small quantities of water and are at risk in their own homes from wading pools, bathtubs, buckets, diaper pails, and toilets as well as swimming pools, spas, and hot tubs.

Deaths and Injuries

  • A swimming pool is 14 times more likely than a motor vehicle to be involved in the death of a child age 4 and under.
  • Each year, approximately 1,150 children ages 14 and under drown; more than half are preschoolers (ages 0-4).
  • Each year, an estimated 5,000 children ages 14 and under are hospitalized due to near-drownings.
  • Of children surviving near-drownings, 5-20 percent suffer severe and permanent disability.

Where Drownings Happen

    • Approximately 50 percent of preschooler drownings occur in residential swimming pools.
    • Each year, more than 2,000 preschooler near-drownings occur in residential pools.
    • Of preschooler pool drownings, 65 percent occur in the child’s home pool and 33 percent at the homes of friends, neighbors or relatives.
    • Each year, 350 drownings (for all ages) happen in bathtubs.
    • Each year, approximately 40 children drown in five-gallon buckets.
    • In ten states–Alaska, Arizona, California, Florida, Hawaii, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, and Washington– drowning surpasses all other causes of death to children ages 14 and under.

 

How and When Drownings Happen

  • Of all preschoolers who drown, 70 percent are in the care of one of both parents at the time of the drowning.
  • Of all preschoolers who drown, 75 percent are missing from sight for five minutes or less.
  • Two-thirds of all drownings happen between May and August.
  • Of all drownings, 40 percent occur on Saturdays and Sundays.

Who is at Risk

  • Of all age groups, children ages 1-4 have the highest drowning death rate.
  • American Indian and Alaska Native children ages 14 and under have a drowning death rate that is nearly two times higher than white children. A total of 55 percent of these drowning deaths occur in natural bodies of water.
  • African-American children ages 4 and under have a drowning death rate that is lower than white children and lower than children in the overall population.
  • African-American children ages 5-14 have a drowning death rate that is nearly three times higher than white children.

Costs

  • Health care costs per near-drowning victim typically range from $75,000 for initial emergency room treatment to $180,000 a year for long-term care.
  • The annual economic costs of residential pool drownings and near-drownings of young children are estimated to be $450 million to $650 million.

Prevention

  • While there is no substitute for adult supervision, safeguards and barriers around pools and hot tubs provide additional protection for children.
  • Estimates predict that the widespread use of pool fencing would prevent 50-90 percent of pediatric pool drownings and near-drownings.

Drowning Prevention Tips

Prevent Childhood Drowning

Parents whose children have drowned say the day of the tragedy started out just like any other day. No matter how the drowning happened or where it happened — pool, spa, or any other body of water — one thing was the same, the seconds that claimed their child’s life slid by silently, without warning, and can never be brought back.It is a fact that drowning is the leading cause of injury death of children under five years of age in 18 states.

Facts About Drowning

  • Children drown during routine household activities, with adults present and providing normal levels of supervision.
  • Most children who drowned or nearly drowned were last seen in the house or away from the pool or spa.

Action Step: Protection

Use layers of barrier protection between the child and water to warn and impede. Pool and spa owners can take practical steps to make their pool and spa less dangerous by installing “layer of protection.” These include:

  • Alarms on doors and windows leading to the water, installed about five feet above ground level so that a child cannot reach them.
  • A non-climbable, five-foot fence that separates the pool/spa from the residence should be installed.  Openings should be no more than four inches wide so children cannot squeeze through the spaces.
  • Self-closing and self-latching gates and doors leading to the pool/spa with latches above a child’s reach.  Gates should open outward.
  • Pool safety covers (power operated are the safest and easiest to use).

Action Step: Supervision

  • Water with its rippling, shimmering appeal is a magnet for children. Children under the age of five have no fear of water and no concept of death. They associate water with play not with danger. Adults must establish and communicate responsibility for child safety.
  • Assign an adult “water watcher” to supervise the pool/spa area or any other body of water, especially during social gatherings.
  • Assign a second adult to maintain constant visual contact with children in the pool/spa area or any body of water that might attract a child. Don’t assume someone else is watching a child.
  • Never leave a child alone near a pool/spa, bathtub, toilet, water filled bucket, pond or any standing body of water in which a child’s nose and mouth may be submersed.
  • Don’t rely on swimming lessons, life preservers, or any other equipment to make a child “water safe”.
  • Don’t allow children to play in the pool/spa area.
  • Look in the pool area first if a child is missing.
  • Communicate pool safety measures with the baby-sitter and train the sitter in CPR.

Action Step: Preparation

  • Insist anyone over 14 years of age have current CPR in infant/child safety.
  • Communicate pool safety measures with the baby-sitter and train the sitter on infant/child CPR.
  • Learn how to swim and learn rescue techniques.
  • Mount rescue equipment by the pool such as a lifesaving ring, shepherd’s hook, and a CPR sign.
  • Post 9-1-1 emergency phone number on all phones. Have phone near pool area.

Pool Safety Tips

Drowning accidents are the leading cause of injury/deaths among children under five. More than 80 percent of the drownings occur in residential backyard pools or spas. It can happen quickly, always without warning, without a splash, and without a cry for help. To help avoid such a tragedy, please read the following pool safety tips.

Secure Pool Area

A fence or barrier completely surrounding the pool can prevent many drowning accidents. Most children who drown or nearly drown were last seen in the yard, porch, or patio prior to the accident. Although a fence separating the pool and spa in the single most effective barrier for preventing childhood drownings, not one method alone is totally effective in preventing drowning accidents. Pool owners can take practical steps to make their pools and spas less dangerous by installing “layers of protection”.

  1. Pools should be fenced from the rest of the house.  Fences should be five feet high.
  2. The area adjacent to the outside of the fence must be free of objects which may aid children in climbing over the fence. These include items such as chairs, tables, tree branches, etc.
  3. Gates should be self-closing and self-latching, opening outward away from pool.
  4. A gate latch should be placed at the top of the gate and be inaccessible from the outside by small children.
  5. All doors and windows leading to the pool should always be secured and locked at all times.
  6. Additional “layers of protection” include safety covers, alarms on doors and motion-detection devices.
  7. Remember pool covers, gates and other layers of protection do not replace adult supervision.
  8. Assign an adult Water Watcher to supervise the pool/spa area, especially during social gatherings.

Effective Supervisions

  1. Never allow young children to be left alone in and around the pool for a moment.  Make sure an adult is always present.
  2. Babysitters and guardians should always be instructed about potential hazards in and around the pool.
  3. Never rely on flotation devices or swimming lessons to protect a child. Twenty-five percent of all drowning victims have had swimming lessons.
  4. Mount flotation devices designed for lifesaving near the pool. Many float-type toys are thought to be lifesavers.  They are not! They are only toys and should be used only as toys.
  5. Look in the pool area first if a child is missing.
  6. Never keep toys around or in a pool.
  7. All adults, children and Baby-sitters should learn and practice CPR.
  8. Keep a telephone outside the pool area. Post the 9-1-1 emergency number on the telephone.

What To Do If You Find A Child In A Pool

  • Yell for Help and get the child out of the pool and onto the pool deck.
  • If someone is with you, have them call 9-1-1. Determine if the child is breathing: tilt the head back; if you don’t hear or feel breathing or see the chest rising, begin CPR immediately. Continue CPR until emergency help arrives.
  • If you are alone and the child is not breathing, start CPR immediately. After one minute, call 9-1-1. Return to the child and continue CPR until help arrives.

If you’re planning a vacation and your home will be empty, you can go away with a freer mind and less worry if you check your home before leaving. Check to make sure that all stoves and electrical appliances have been turned off or disconnected. Unplug all television sets and radios. Lightning storms or sudden electrical surges could cause a fire in this equipment while you’re away. When you return from your vacation, check your smoke detector to make sure it is functioning. Batteries could run down or other components could fail while you’re away.

When you are traveling away from home and staying in a motel or hotel, it is important to know survival actions in case there is a fire. Many significant fires have occurred in high rise hotels such as the MGM Grand in Las Vegas and the hotel fire in Panama.

Select a hotel or motel that, at a minimum, has a smoke detector installed. It is preferable to select lodging that also has fire sprinkler systems in place. If you must stay in a facility without smoke detectors or sprinklers, request a room on the first or second floor.

When you first get in your room, read the fire safety information provided. It is usually posted near or on the back of the entry door. Just like in your home, you need to plan your escape ahead of time. Locate the two exits nearest your room. Make sure the fire exit doors work and are unlocked. Locate the nearest fire alarm and read the operating instructions. In a real fire, the hallway may become dark with smoke so count the number of doors from your room to each exit. This way you will know where you are in case you get caught in a dark hallway. Keep your room key and a flashlight near the bed.

If you hear the fire alarm sound, or suspect a fire in the hotel, investigate, don’t go back to sleep. If you see fire or smoke, call the hotel desk and the fire department immediately. Tell the person who answers the phone what room you are in.

If you hear the fire alarm, check the door with the back of your hand. If it is cool, slowly open the door and exit. If the door is hot or warm, leave it closed and stay in the room. Fill the bathtub with water. Place wet towels or sheets into cracks around the door to keep smoke out. Call the fire department and tell them you are trapped in your room, and give them the room number.

If the door is not hot and the hallway is not smoky, go to the closest fire exit. Be sure to take your room key with you. You might have to return to your room and want to be sure you can get back in. Crawl low under smoke down the hallway to the fire exit. Use a wet cloth over your nose and mouth. As you exit, pull the nearest fire alarm to warn other occupants, then leave the building. If you cannot go down, try to go up to the roof. Attract attention so they will know where you are.

If a fire starts in your room, leave immediately and close the door behind you to confine the fire and smoke to the room. Activate the fire alarm and call the fire department once you are safely out of danger.

Never use an elevator under fire conditions. Always take the stairs when exiting from a high-rise building. Elevators can malfunction. Many are heat-activated and have been known to stop directly at the fire floor.

Camping

Going back to nature with camping means leaving behind some familiar conveniences. It means using some unfamiliar procedures. To make sure a camping trip is an enjoyable one, be sure to follow safety rules.

Some tents are manufactured from cotton, which is a flammable substance. Sometimes the fabric treatment used to make tents waterproof actually increases the flammability, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. Buy a tent that is flame retardant. Remember, “flame retardant” doesn’t mean fire-proof. A flying ember from a fire can land on the tent and ignite it in seconds.

There are other things in a tent that can burn such as sleeping bags, clothing and people. A tent should be sited upwind from any campfire or outside cooking or lighting devices. Create a three- foot clearing around the tent. Only use battery-operated lights near or inside it. Always refuel any heat-producing appliance, such as lanterns and stoves, outside a tent. Always store flammable liquids, such as gasoline, outside a tent.

Don’t cook inside a tent.

When preparing a campfire, a site should be selected that is away from grass, trees and tents. An area 10 feet around the campfire should be cleared of ground litter, twigs, leaves and organic material, down to bare soil. The site also should be downwind from the sleeping area to prevent catching a tent or sleeping bag on fire from a spark or ember. Rocks should be placed directly around the campfire pit.

If weather conditions are especially dry and you don’t really need a fire for cooking, don’t build one. A small spark is all it takes to ignite dry grass and leaves. Be sure to pay close attention to forest conditions and warnings from the park service.

Never use gasoline to light a fire. It is extremely explosive. A fire should be lit using kindling or a lighter stick. Keep a pail of sand or water nearby in the event it is needed to control the fire or extinguish it. Wear tight-fitting cotton or wool clothing while working near the campfire. Always keep a careful eye on fires. Make sure children don’t play near them.

Before you go to sleep at night or if you leave the campsite for a while, be sure to extinguish the fire. Many forest fires are started each year from unattended campfires or those that were not completely extinguished. Douse the fire with water or sand, break up the coals, add more water or sand, stir it with a stick and cover the dead embers with dirt. Make sure the fire is completely out before bedding down or leaving the campsite.

If you’re using a gas or liquid fuel camp stove or lantern, follow the manufacturer’s directions. Make sure all connections are tight to avoid leaks. Never check for a gas leak with a lighted match. Instead, put a little soapy water on the connections. If the mixture bubbles, gas is seeping out. Don’t try to use the appliance again until it’s been checked by a professional. When using a camp stove or gas lantern, always fill it before each use. Do not refuel a hot stove or lantern. Wait until it cools off. Use a funnel to fill the appliances and wipe up all fuel spills before attempting to light it again.

When traveling with a camper trailer or recreational vehicle, use only electrically-operated or battery-operated lights inside. Maintain all appliances in a safe working condition and check them before use. Keep a fire extinguisher on board, preferably a multi-purpose one, and mount a smoke detector inside the vehicle.

When the vehicle is traveling down the road, shut down gas to stoves and water heaters by closing the fuel supply at the gas bottle.

Never operate combustion type or catalytic heaters inside closed campers or recreational vehicle. This could result in asphyxiation from either fumes or oxygen depletion.

Don’t cook while the vehicle is underway. A sudden lurching of the vehicle may result in spilling of cooking grease, causing a fire.

Always fuel stoves or lanterns outside campers or recreational vehicles. Accumulation of vapors in the fueling process, from volatile fuels, could result in an explosion.

Avoid accumulating and storing combustibles such as newspapers and grocery bags in your vehicle.

Outdoors

When establishing a site for a barbecue, be sure there is nothing hanging overhead and it is a safe distance from trees, buildings and other combustibles.

When using charcoal grills, use only the lighter fluids designated for use with charcoal grills when starting your fire. Never use gasoline to start your fire. Immediately after using the lighter fluid, replace the fluid container in its storage location. Do not set it down by the grill. Never use gasoline to quicken a charcoal fire. Don’t add a charcoal starter fluid to the fire after it has begun. The flames can travel up to the can and cause an explosion. Always keep starter fluids in containers with child-resistant caps, and keep them out of the reach of children.

Don’t wear loose clothing or robes around charcoal grills.

Flaming grease can ignite clothing. Keep a small spray can of water handy to douse flaming grease. A spray bottle filled with water, such as used for sprinkling clothes, is excellent for this. Liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) when used to fire a home barbecue, is contained under pressure in a steel cylinder. The contents of an LPG cylinder, vaporized and in a confined area, have the explosive force of several sticks of dynamite. Therefore, the wise user of LPG will be aware of the dangers involved and the precautions that must be taken.

Read the manufacturer’s instructions and be sure you thoroughly understand them. Do not transport LPG cylinders in the trunk of a passenger vehicle. A filled cylinder should always be transported in an upright position on the floor of a vehicle with all windows open. Remove the cylinder from the vehicle as soon as possible. Never leave a cylinder in a parked vehicle.

Using the proper size of wrench, make sure that all connections are tight. Remember that fittings on flammable gas cylinders have left-hand threads, requiring effort in a counterclockwise direction to tighten.

Make sure that grease is not allowed to drip on the hose or cylinders.

Never allow children to use a gas-fired barbecue.

Don’t be tempted by a rainy day to use outdoor cooking equipment inside – not even in a garage or on a porch or balcony. Never use a gas-fired barbecue inside any structure.

If you are using a butane or propane barbecue, be sure there are no leaks from the tank or plumbing. If you suspect a leak, spray a soapy solution of water and dish-washing detergent over the tubing, hoses and fittings. If bubbling is found, turn off the supply at the tank and call a repairman.

When using these types of barbecues, be sure to light a match first and place it in the ignition hole before turning the gas valve on.

If you turn the gas valve on first, and then waste time looking for a match, flammable gas will build up inside the barbecue. When a lighted match is finally placed near the barbecue, an explosion may result.

When you are through cooking, turn the gas valve off to the barbecue and shut off the supply valve at the tank.

Never store any LPG cylinder – attached to the barbecue, or spares – inside any part of a structure, including porches and balconies. Store cylinders, including those attached to barbecues, outdoors in a shaded, cool area out of direct sunlight.

Power lawnmowers make the job much simpler than hand-propelled mowers. But, if not used with caution, these lawnmowers can be dangerous. If you own a gasoline-powered mower or gasoline-powered outdoor yard maintenance tools such as a chain saw, check the condition of the muffler at the beginning of the season. Spark arresters on mufflers should be considered in areas where dry grass is common. Hot gasses from defective mufflers often can ignite dry grass. Never refuel power tools when the engine is running and never refuel it inside a tool shed or a garage. Do so only outside, in well-ventilated areas.

Once the engine has been fueled, wipe up gasoline spills. And, since gasoline vapors can travel along the ground and be ignited by a nearby flame, move at least 10 feet away from the fueling spot, and the vapors, before starting the motor. If you must refuel, cool the motor before doing so.

Never smoke when you use gasoline. Remember that the invisible fumes from the gasoline can seek out a spark or flame from as far as 50 feet away. Once the fumes meet the spark, you, your clothes and skin could be engulfed in flames. Keep away from cigarettes, water heater pilot lights and any flames if you’re handling gasoline.

Store gasoline in a ventilated area in tightly closed cans away from children, sparks or flame source.

Boating enthusiasts look forward to getting their craft in the water. If you enjoy boating activities, remember that fire hazards exist on boats, too.

Don’t smoke at fuel docks or during fueling procedures for your boat.

Make sure you have a Coast Guard-approved fire extinguisher on board your vessel. Know how to use it.

Always make sure that bilge fans are functioning to remove fuel fumes prior to starting the boat’s engine. Those fumes could cause an explosion.

Don’t refuel stoves or heating appliances in enclosed spaces.

Never cook when underway. A sudden lurch could cause grease to spill, causing a fire.

After painting and refurbishing operations, safely discard all oily and paint-filled rags. Never store these on board your boat. These rags can generate heat spontaneously and may self-ignite.

  • The Pasadena Fire Department will be instituting a program called the “Vial of Life.” Vial of Life is a program that was started a number of years ago by the American Heart Association and has great success, as a result the Pasadena Fire Department has elected to adopt the program for its citizens. The program entails a magnet, vial, and medical reference sheet, all of which will be handed out to all citizens at no cost. The program works by the user putting the issued magnet on the refrigerator; this alerts Fire personnel when responding to an emergency that there is a vial with a medical reference sheet inside. The reference sheet will have all pertinent information such as: medical history, medications, allergies, DNR, PMD, pertinent phone numbers and insurance information. This information not only benefits the user by keeping all medical history organized, but also helps prehospital personnel make treatment and transport decisions in the event of a critical emergency when patients are unable to give valuable information. This program will also be valuable to ER personnel, allowing a complete and thorough reference of all the patient’s medical conditions and insurance information for administrators. We as a department feel that this program will increase our patient care and continuation of care at the hospital for our citizens.

Questions?

Where do I get the Vial and its materials?

You can pick up the vial, magnet and medical form from any Pasadena fire station, Fire Department Administration building, or when fire personnel respond to your home for an emergency. For these addresses and phone numbers please see the station directory on the fire departments website.

How does the program work?

Once you obtain the necessary materials from the fire department you are ready to begin. Place the magnet on your refrigerator for visibility so fire personnel can see it on an emergency. Next remove the medical reference sheet from the vial and fill it out completely. Fold the form back up and place it in the vial. Place the vial in your refrigerator in a visible place for fire personnel to see. Make sure you update the form anytime new information is received.

For any other questions you can contact or visit your local fire station or contact: Pasadena Fire Department Administration: (626) 744-4655 http://www.cityofpasadena.net/fire/

Download the “Vial of Life” Medical Form below:

Vial of Life Form