MEBANE, N.C., May 13 /PRNewswire/ -- As Americans prepare for the 2004 hurricane season, Kidde, the world's largest manufacturer of fire safety products, reminds families that battery-operated smoke and carbon monoxide (CO) alarms and fire extinguishers offer protection from the house fires or CO poisonings that can occur during a hurricane-related power outage.
Called the Silent Killer, carbon monoxide (CO) is odorless, tasteless and invisible, and claims more than 2,000 lives a year. After a hurricane knocks out power, some families use generators to provide electricity or grills for cooking. When used improperly, fuel-burning appliances pose a deadly risk of causing CO poisoning. The only safe way to know if your family is being exposed is to install a battery-powered CO alarm yet only 27% of American households have one.
Candles often are used in a power outage and house candle fires claim about 90 lives a year, according to the National Fire Protection Association. Studies show that a working smoke alarm increases the likelihood that families will survive a structural fire. While more than 94% of U.S. homes have smoke alarms, about one-third of these alarms do not work due to age, or dead or missing batteries.
Learning from Hurricane Isabel
Hurricane Isabel provided tragic reminders of the need for fire and CO safety. The 2003 storm left more than 6.5 million customers without electricity, resulting in eight deaths and dozens hospitalized due to CO poisoning from improperly used generators. In addition, one person died in a house fire that started from a candle.
"Hurricane Isabel taught us that the dangers don't end when the high winds and flooding pass," said Ed LeBlanc, president of Kidde. "Using a generator improperly or leaving candles unattended heighten the chance that families could experience a disaster far worse than the storm they've just been through. That's why it's vital that families remember fire and CO safety."
Having working, battery-operated CO and smoke alarms and fire extinguishers before a hurricane strikes, and taking safety steps during a storm's aftermath could mean the difference between life and death. The experts at Kidde recommend these safety tips:
Before a Hurricane Strikes
- Add at least one battery-operated, UL-listed smoke alarm on every floor of your home and in sleeping areas.
- Check the batteries in your hardwired smoke alarms and replace if necessary.
- Keep a multi-purpose fire extinguisher, such as the Kidde Home & Office Fire Extinguisher, within reach in rooms where fires may start -- the kitchen, garage, bedroom, living room, laundry room and any room with a chimney.
- When choosing a fire extinguisher, bigger is better. Larger fire extinguishers last longer, giving you more time to fight the fire and get to safety.
- Read the instructions and know how to use the fire extinguisher before a fire breaks out.
- Install battery-operated CO alarms, such as the Kidde Digital Battery Operated CO Alarm, on every floor and in sleeping areas.
- Ensure that fuel-burning appliances are properly installed and ventilated, and work according to the manufacturer's instructions.
Safety During and After a Hurricane
- Do not operate a generator in spaces attached to your home, like porches, patios or garages. Only operate it outdoors in a well-ventilated, dry area away from air intakes and protected from rain.
- Follow the manufacturers' instructions when using generators. Use the appropriate size and type power cords and never run them under rugs or carpets. Overloaded or covered cords could overheat and cause fires.
- Do not use a charcoal or gas grill inside your home or outside near a window where CO fumes could seep into your home.
- Ensure that storm debris hasn't blocked or sealed shut flues or ducts for chimneys, water heaters, ranges and clothes dryers, or blocked your vehicle's tailpipe, which could cause CO buildup inside the vehicle.
- During storm cleanup, place the pump and power unit of high-pressure washers outside and away from air intakes. Run only the wash line inside.
- Use battery-powered flashlights or lamps for light.
- Extinguish all candles when leaving the house, a room where a candle is burning for a long time, or going to sleep.
- Never use gasoline in place of kerosene.
- Use a fire extinguisher to put out a small, self-contained fire when there is a clear exit behind you, or to create a pathway to safety when all exits or escape routes are blocked. Always call the fire department before you try and extinguish a fire.
- Respect all fires, regardless of size. The main objective is safe escape.
Since 1917, Kidde has earned a trusted reputation as the world's largest manufacturer of fire safety products whose mission is to provide safety solutions that protect people and property from the effects of fire and its related hazards. Kidde offers a wide range of fire protection products including smoke alarms, carbon monoxide alarms, fire extinguishers, escape ladders, and other accessories. Kidde's products are sold commercially in the industrial and electrical channels as well as in retail outlets such as home improvement, hardware, mass market and other stores. Headquartered in Mebane, NC, Kidde is a division of Kidde plc, a leading global supplier of fire and safety products, systems and services that service the industrial, commercial, aerospace, combustion control and retail industries. For more information, visit http://www.KiddeUS.com .