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Prevent Fire Damage in the Basement
By Jonathan Meyer
A thorough inspection in the basement will help detect some of the fire hazards that exist there.
The combination of combustibles, electricity, and heat generators, all packed and unattended in your basement is hazardous and requires attention.
Allow emergency escape areas; always ensure a clear path towards the exits.
Flammable liquids give off vapors that are heavier than air. These vapors may ignite by a small spark generated by the pilot light on the furnace or hot water heater.
Preferably, store flammable liquids outside in a shed. Ensure that they are stored in approved closed containers and kept away from heat, sparks and open flames. This includes not smoking cigarettes nearby.
If they must be stored in the basement, keep suitable clearance (at least three feet) around appliances such as the furnace or hot water heater.
An excessive amount of combustible materials will fuel a fire. Keep the amount of storage to a minimum by cleaning once a year or having a garage sale.
Lawn mowers, snowblowers, and propane cylinders should never be stored indoors because they contain flammable liquids that release vapors heavier than air and present a serious fire hazard.
Over-fused electrical boxes are serious fire hazards.
Bypassing of circuit fuses creates an extreme fire hazard. When a fuse blows, either the wiring or some electrical device connected to the circuit is defective or there are too many connected appliances, causing overloading.
Never use extension cords for items that need a permanent supply of electricity such as air conditioners, refrigerators, and freezers. This can cause the cord to overheat and ignite.
Ensure that all fixtures are properly secured. Wires are to be properly insulated from each other and junction boxes should be covered.
Do not allow children to play in the basement if it is used for storage. Avoid storing matches and lighters in the basement and, if possible, store them in a locked box and out of the reach of children.
Smart Tips for Fire Damage Prevention in the Basement:
- Store propane and other flammable liquids in approved containers.
- Have heating equipment checked annually.
- 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.
- Keep all chemicals, paints, etc. in their original containers.