Fire safety: low cost extinguishers and methods : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread

The topic of candles and fire extinguishers was mentioned on another thread and I've thought it deserved its own thread. Not everyone can afford to invest in several large commercial type extinguishers. Hopefully we have many people here now who are either active fire fighters, volunteers or who have significant safety training and/or experience.

It is vitally important that those of use stocking up on candles, oil lamps, kerosene heaters, wood stoves, and other such open-flame or high-heat devices give fire safety the consideration it deserves.

Shortly before Christmas here, a wind storm knocked out electricity. At a trailer court, where candles were being used to provide alternate lighting, a fire broke out and killed two children.

We are so used to 'safe' lighting and heating that we have forgotten the old ways. If Mary (from the Mennonite community) is still reading this group, I would greatly appreciate hearing how the Amish address issues of fire safety.

If some of you could offer some guidance with respect to general safety, types of fires, fire prevention, low-cost extinguishers for specific types of fires, fire escape, and fire risk evaluation, the entire group could benefit from this and it just mights save some lives even if disruptions are only very minor. (The electricity was out for only about 3 hours when the children were killed).

I'll go first: One of the things we did was purchase a cheap storage shed to store all of our highly flammable liquids (gas, kero, alcohol, solvents, propane cylinders, etc.) we erected it about 125 feet away from our house and garage. All of our fuels (including lamp oil) is stored in this shed.

-- Arnie Rimmer (, January 13, 1999


A lot of fires start in kitchens/cooking areas, so it's wise to keep several boxes of baking soda around near the stove. It's also smart to have a cover for frying pans and pots such that if you cook by the smoke alarm (to tell you when things are done) you can put a lid on the conflagration, and put out the fire. Then you can scrape off the burnt parts, and serve dinner.

Water for a grease fire won't do, but baking soda will extinguish a grease fire.

Another thing to watch for is oily/greasy rags. If you use stains or solvents, store the used rags in a coffee can with a lid, or similar container, outside. If you need to reuse the rag later (like you had to stop in the middle of a project) put the rag in a plastic bag and put it somewhere cold, like your freezer, or outside (in the winter).

Another fire preventative is potholders. If you grab a too-hot pot handle, you may jerk and slop the contents onto a hot burner and inadvertantly start a fire. Potholders should only be used dry, as moisture plus heat can cause a scald burn, and preferably should be made of non-synthetic materials, as synthetics are more likely to melt or scorch.

-- Karen Cook (, January 13, 1999.

For a start, replace your smoke detectors which are most likely wired into your electricity supply with old fashioned battery operated ones and stock up on all sorts of batteries while you're at it. Second, educate your over-indulged gizmo saturated kids to what it means to live in say, a camping hut; ie. take them camping where this is not an electricity supply and you must rely on fuel sources for light, cooking etc. A little demo of what happens when you throw kero in a fire or let a candle fall onto a pile of "should have been" discarded newspapers can do wonders. Third, get used to the mind-set that a hell of a lot of people in the third world, not just the Amish, do quite nicely without elctricity because they have to. It comes down to common sense. Even if the grids breakdown, it won't be forever.

-- Larry (, January 13, 1999.

If you are using a kerosene lamp or lantern of any kind inside a dwelling, keep a bucket of sand in each room where a lamp is used... the sand can be used to extinguish fires from dropped/broken/spilled lamps. Cheap protection. Forestry supply houses carry backpack-type extinguishers that use water - they have a pump built into the can for pressurizing, and a wand to spray... not for B-C fires (oil & electrical) but fine for wood and paper.

-- Mike Johnson (none@this.time), January 13, 1999.

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