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The City of Titusville, Florida / Fire & Emergency Services / News

Surprising Home Fire Hazards--Be Aware!

nfpa safety tips DON'T BECOME COMPLACENT-

We all teach children to stay away from open flames (candles, lighters, campfires) and take particular care to make sure all open flames are extinguished properly.  But, there are a number of things in and around our homes that can also pose fire and other dangers that we often don't even consider, such as:

9-volt Battery Safety:  These batteries power our smoke alarms, household items and toys.  They can be found in most homes.  But these batteries can be a fire hazard if not stored safely or disposed of with care.

The problem:  These batteries can be dangerous.  The positive and negative posts are close together and if a metal object touches the two posts of a 9-volt battery, it can cause a short circuit.  It can make enough heat to start a fire.

It is unsafe to store these batteries in a drawer near paper clips, coins, pens, or other batteries.  Don't store common household items such as steel wool, aluminum foil, and keys near 9-volt batteries.  If these items touch the two posts, there is a greater risk of a fire starting.  Weak batteries may have enough charge left to cause a fire in the trash when the batteries were thrown away with other metal items.

The solution:   Keep batteries in original packaging until you are ready to use them or keep the posts covered with masking, duct or electrical tape.  Prevent the posts from coming into contact with metal objects and store them standing up.  Don't store them loose in a drawer or in containers with other batteries.

Clothes Dryer Safety:  Doing laundry is most likely part of your every day routine, but did you think about how important taking care of your clothes dryer is to the safety of your home?  With a few simple tips, you can help prevent a clothes dryer fire.

The problem:  The leading cause of home clothes dryer fires is failure to clean them.  The second most cause of dryer fires is failure to properly maintain the dryer.

The solution:  Have your dryer installed and serviced by a professional.  Make sure that there is a lint filter in the dryer and clean the lint from it after drying every load of clothes.  Remove lint that has collected around the drum.  The air exhaust vent pipe (which should be of rigid or flexible metal) should not be restricted and the outdoor vent flap opens when the dryer is operating.  Once a year or more often if you notice clothes are taking longer than normal to dry, clean lint out of the vent pipe.  Keep dryers in good working order and make sure the right plug and outlet are used and that the machine is connected properly.  Turn the dryer off if you leave your home or go to bed.

Medical Oxygen Safety:  Portable medical oxygen in the home has grown over the past decade.  But medical oxygen adds a higher percentage of oxygen to the air a patient uses to breath.   

The problem:  Fire needs oxygen to burn.  If a fire should start in an oxygen-enriched area, the material burning will burn more quickly.  Oxygen saturates fabric covered furniture, clothing, hair and bedding, making it easier for a fire to start and spread.  Smoking materials is the leading heat source resulting in medical oxygen related fires, injuries and deaths.   There is no safe way to smoke in the home where oxygen is in use, whether in the same room with the oxygen or not.

The solution:  A patient on oxygen should never smoke or anyone else within the home.   Post NO SMOKING and NO OPEN FLAMES signs in and outside the home to remind people about the dangers.  These include the use of candles, matches, wood stoves and even sparking toys, which should not be used in the home.  Keep oil and grease, such as body oil, hand lotion and items containing oil and grease or aerosol sprays containing combustible materials away from the oxygen.

Pourable Gel Fuel Safety:   Pourable gel fuel is used with firepots, personal fireplaces, and patio torches.  

The problem:  Due to the serious risk of flash fire and burns when consumers add pourable gel to already burning fire pot, NFPA and CPSC are warning consumers to immediately stop using pourable gel fuel.  In cooperation with nine manufacturers and distributors, they have announced a voluntary recall of all pourable gel fuel made or sold by these companies (for more information, go to; however, all pourable gel fuel, regardless of manufacturer, poses a fire hazard. The fuel can ignite unexpectedly and splatter onto people and objects nearby when it is poured in a firepot that is still burning or hot. These devices will be hot during and after burning. The gel fuel flame is not easy to see, especially in daylight. The burning gel fuel sticks to skin and is difficult to extinguish and STOP, DROP, ROLL may not put out clothing that catches fire involving splattered or spilled gel fuel. 

The solution:  Immediately stop using pourable gel fuel as it poses a serious danger.  Several deaths and multiple victims with second and third degree burns have been reported.  If you do experience a fire, a dry chemical extinguisher or baking soda can be used to extinguish the fire.

Ethanol-burning Fireplaces:  Indoor and outdoor portable ethanol burning fireplaces have become more popular in recent years. 

The problem:  While these products provide ambiance and a little warmth, keep in mind the fuel, device and open flame can be dangerous.  Pouring ethanol fuel in a device that is lit or not completely cool may result in a fire or injury.  Ethanol fuel flames are not easy to see, causing potential fire problems if the fireplace is left burning unintentionally.

The solution:  Only adults should handle fueling and lighting of an ethanol fireplace while keeping away anything that can burn and making sure that children and pets remain at least three feet or more from the device.  Store ethanol fuel in a closed container, away from the fireplace and out of the reach of children.  Always close the lid or use a snuffer to be sure the ethanol flame is extinguished before leaving the room, the home or going to bed.  Use only fuel made specifically for the fireplace and make sure that refueling of the unit is only done when the device has cooled down for at least 15 minutes.  Never move a lit fireplace and make sure the fireplace is on a sturdy surface and away from table edges.  Light the fireplace using a utility lighter or long match and crack open a window for a fresh supply of air while the fireplace is in use. 

All safety information developed and provided by National Fire Protection Association.  For more information on fire safety, go to or contact Titusville Life Safety Specialist Heather Gilmore, 321-567-3804.

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The City of Titusville, Florida
P. O. Box 2806, (32781-2806) - 555 S. Washington Avenue - Titusville, FL 32796 - Phone: (321) 567-3775 - Fax: (321) 383-5704 - ADA Statement - Site by Project A