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Playing with Fire

Playing with Fire



Soldiers remain indoors much more during the cold winter months than in the spring and summer, when the weather is sunny and pleasant. In some cases, this means many appliances and electronic devices will remain plugged in and running for longer periods of time, which can increase the risk of an accidental fire.

Electrical hazards are the most common fire risk Soldiers face and can result from the improper use of extension cords, appliances, daisy chained power strips, overloaded outlets and light fixtures. To help reduce electrical fire hazards, inspect the rubber or plastic insulation wrapped around extension cords. If this protective wrap is cracked, frayed or damaged in any way, replace it immediately.

Keep in mind extension cords are intended to be temporary and should be unplugged after every use. Never consider an extension cord as part of an appliance’s factory-supplied power cord. Also, look at the male and female ends of the cord. Stamped on one or both ends should be the Underwriters Laboratories “UL” symbol, which is considered the safety seal of approval. Electronic goods without this stamp or sticker should not be trusted.

Another common mistake that creates a fire hazard is daisy chaining power strips (plugging one power strip into another). This is often done in a misguided attempt to operate multiple appliances off one outlet. This technique causes a reduction in the amperes flowing into individual appliances, which results in overheating and can lead to a fire. One outlet is manufactured to supply power to one power strip. Operating two or more power strips off a single outlet creates an unacceptable hazard.

Light fixtures such as lamps and track lighting can also create a fire hazard. Lights should never be placed where they touch curtains or drapes. In addition, never cover the top of a lampshade, as heat from the bulb must be allowed to ventilate. If the bulb cannot ventilate, the heat will intensify and perhaps cause a fire. It’s also a good idea to keep appliances clean. Remember to never cover an appliance’s ventilation ducts, as lack of ventilation causes heat and can result in a fire.

Although electrical hazards may dominate this list, they’re not the only threat. As for smoking hazards, do not empty ashtrays or cans into the trash without first dousing the hot ashes with water. More importantly, remember to never smoke within 50 feet of any fuel point or tanker truck. Also remember candles and gas grills are fire hazards. Burn barrels must be kept a safe distance from all buildings and decking, and a fire should never be left unattended.

Some final thoughts on housekeeping practices: Never cover emergency light fixtures with clothes, linens or anything else. Also, never block exits with furniture and do not obstruct access to breaker boxes either inside or outside of billeting structures. If you have any questions or concerns about fire safety, direct them to your safety officer or the fire department. Remember, fire hazards have countermeasures. Employ them!  

  • 1 November 2015
  • Author: Army Safety
  • Number of views: 10385
  • Comments: 0