New Jersey Division of Fire Safety Issues Fire Prevention Tips to Prepare for Spring Cleaning and the Upcoming Barbecue Season
- Posted on: 04/26/2021
Follow This “To-Do” List to Ensure Your Home Is Fire Prevention Ready
TRENTON, NJ – The New Jersey Division of Fire Safety today released a fire prevention “to-do” list to help people prepare for spring cleaning and the upcoming barbecue season. The onset of warmer weather is a good time to remove potential fire hazards that exist around the home. The Division recommends the following tips to avoid fire hazards.
“Surveying your outdoor living spaces is a critical step in preventing home fires,” said New Jersey Division of Fire Safety and State Fire Marshal Richard Mikutsky. “It’s easy to forget about those outdoor grills and spaces until the moment we are ready to use them, but maintenance and cleaning are imperative, especially with appliances that require fuels and chemicals to operate.”
In the Garage
One place to look for potential fire risks is in the garage. Conduct a survey of all hazardous chemicals on hand and properly dispose of materials that are no longer needed at a county recycling center during Hazardous Waste Recycling Day. Make sure those hazardous chemicals that remain are properly labeled and stored in a secure place away from children. Propane tanks should never be stored inside. Gasoline should only be stored in approved containers.
Clothes Dryer Vents
The National Fire Protection Association tracks reported residential fires and data show that dryer fires involving lint accumulated in the dryer vent to be among the leading causes of residential fires.
- In 2010-2014, U.S. fire departments responded to an estimated average of 15,970 home structure fires involving clothes dryers or washing machines each year.
- These fires caused annual averages of 13 civilian deaths, 444 civilian injuries, and $238 million in direct property damage.
- Most of the fires (92 percent) involved clothes dryers.
Lawnmower and Gas-Powered Machines Maintenance
Be certain to service lawnmowers; check the gas tank for rust and make sure the fuel line has no leaks, since a leaky gas tank and a hot exhaust can prove an explosive combination. The same is true for any small gasoline-powered tools such as lawn trimmers and weed whackers.
In advance of possible severe thunderstorms and ensuing power outages, make certain your gas-powered generator has received pre-season servicing. Never refuel while the engine is hot or running. Never bring an operating generator inside.
Accumulated debris piled next to any structure can serve as a fuel source for fire. Gutters should be thoroughly cleaned, and mulch should be replaced. Be aware however, that even newly spread mulch has the capacity to spontaneously combust during an unusually hot day. Keep mulch at least three feet away from any structure and avoid pushing it up against any foundation. DO NOT carelessly toss a cigarette into any pile of mulch, leaves, or debris.
After the winter heating season, chimneys may have built up an accumulation of creosote, an extremely flammable substance lining the flue which is out of sight during the winter heating season. Spring is the perfect time to prepare for the following season by having it cleaned and inspected by a professional chimney sweep.
Finally, as home barbecue season begins, keep in mind all social distancing guidelines when hosting friends and family. All grills should be thoroughly inspected before use. The following barbecue guidelines should be added to any spring cleaning to-do list:
Propane Grill Safety Tips
- Liquid petroleum (LP) gas or propane, when used in gas grills, is highly flammable and each year about 30 people are injured as a result of gas-grill fires and explosions. Many of these fires and explosions occur when consumers first use a grill that has been left idle for a period of time or just after refilling and reattaching the grill's gas container. To reduce the risk of fire or explosion, you should routinely perform the following safety checks:
- Check the tubes that lead into the burner for any blockage from insects, spiders, or food grease. Use a pipe cleaner or wire to clear the blockage and push it through to the main part of the burner.
- Check grill hoses for cracking, brittleness, holes, and leaks. Make sure there are no sharp bends in the hose or tubing.
- Move gas hoses as far away as possible from hot surfaces and dripping hot grease. If you can't move the hoses, install a heat shield to protect them.
- Replace scratched or nicked connectors, which can eventually leak gas.
- Check for gas leaks, following the manufacturer's instructions, if you smell gas or when you reconnect the grill to the LP gas container. If you detect a leak, immediately turn off the gas and don't attempt to light the grill until the leak is fixed.
- Keep lighted cigarettes, matches, or open flames away from a leaking grill.
- Never use a grill indoors. Use the grill at least 10 feet away from your house or any building. Do not use the grill in a garage, breezeway, carport, porch, or under a surface that can catch fire.
- Do not attempt to repair the tank valve or the appliance yourself. See an LP gas dealer or a qualified appliance repair person.
- Always follow the manufacturer's instructions that accompany the grill.
- Use caution when storing LP gas containers. Always keep containers upright. Never store a spare gas container under or near the grill or indoors. Never store or use flammable liquids, like gasoline, near the grill.
- To avoid accidents while transporting LP gas containers, consumers should transport the container in a secure, upright position. Never keep a filled container in a hot car or car trunk. Heat will cause the gas pressure to increase, which may open the relief valve and allow gas to escape.
- Use extreme caution and always follow manufacturer's instructions when connecting or disconnecting LP gas containers.
- Grills manufactured after October 1, 1995, are required to have three additional safety features to eliminate leak hazards: a device to limit the flow of gas in the event of hose rupture; a mechanism to shut off the grill; and a feature to prevent the flow of gas if the connection between the tank and the grill is not leak-proof. Consider purchasing a grill that has these safety features.
Charcoal Grill Safety Tips
- Charcoal produces carbon monoxide (CO) when it is burned. CO is a colorless, odorless gas that can accumulate to toxic levels in closed environments. Each year about 30 people die and 100 are injured as a result of CO fumes from charcoal grills and hibachis used inside.
- To protect your family from CO poisonings, follow these safety tips:
- Never burn charcoal inside of homes, vehicles, tents, or campers. Charcoal should never be used indoors, even if ventilation is provided.
- Since charcoal produces CO fumes until the charcoal is completely extinguished, do not store the grill indoors with freshly used coals.
The Division of Fire Safety serves as the central fire service agency in the State. The Division is responsible for the development and enforcement of the State Uniform Fire Code, as well as for implementing community risk reduction and firefighter training programs.
For more information about DCA, visit https://nj.gov/dca/ or follow the Department on social media: