Safety Tips

The following safety tips are provided by the Education Programs Section of the Huntington Beach Fire Department.  For additional information, to request a fire safety program or schedule a tour for a large group, please use this link Fire Station Tour, or use the red button on the right side of this page labeled Request Visit/Tour.

Other useful information on safety tips, and information on product recalls, can be obtained from the Consumer Product Safety Commission (www.cpsc.gov) or the National Fire Protection Association (www.nfpa.org).

Wildfire Preparedness Program, Ready! Set! Go!
Safety Tips
Barbecue Grilling Safety
There's nothing like outdoor grilling. It is one of the most popular ways to cook food, but can be very hot, causing burn injuries and can be a fire hazard.

Facts

  • Fire departments respond to an average of 7,900 home fires involving grills, hibachis or barbecues each year.
  • Thirty-three percent of home grill structure fires start on an exterior balcony or unenclosed porch.
Safety Tips

  • Propane and charcoal BBQ grills should only be used outdoors.
  • The grill should be placed well away from the home, deck railings and out from under eaves and overhanging branches.
  • Keep children and pets away from the grill area.
  • Keep your grill clean by removing grease or fat buildup from the grills and in trays below the grill.
  • Never leave your grill unattended.
Burn Emergencies
Types of Burns
There are seven common types of burns:

  1. Chemical burns, caused by contact with corrosive chemicals
  2. Contact burns, the result of touching hot objects
  3. Electrical burns, caused by contact with live electrical wires
  4. Flame burns, caused by direct contact with fire
  5. Radiation burns, caused by close exposure to fire or high heat
  6. Scalds, caused by hot liquids or steam
  7. Ultraviolet burns, caused by overexposure to the sun or to sun lamps
Degree of Burns

Burns are classified by the amount of damage done to the skin and other body tissue.

  • First–degree burns are minor and heal quickly
Symptoms: reddened skin; tender and sore

  • Second-degree burns are serious injuries and require immediate first aid and professional medical treatment
Symptoms: blistered skin; very painful

  • Third-degree burns are severe injuries and require immediate professional medical treatment
Symptoms: white, brown, or charred tissue, surrounded by blisters

First Aid for Burns

  • Cool the burn: For all burns, cool the burned area, preferably with cool running water for 10 to 15 minutes. This lowers the skin temperature, which stops the burning process, numbs the pain, and prevents or reduces swelling. Third-degree burns require immediate medical attention.
  • Burned clothing: Lay the victim flat on his or her back. Burned clothing may be stuck to the victim’s skin. Unless the material is on fire or smoldering, do not attempt to remove it. Remove jewelry or tight-fitting clothing from around burned areas before swelling begins and, if possible, elevate the injured areas.
  • Cover the Burn: After a first, second or third-degree burn has been cooled, apply a clean, dry dressing to the burned area.
  • Don’t apply butter or any other grease (including medicated ointments) on a burn. Grease holds in heat, which could make the injury worse.
  • Don’t break blisters: This could allow germs to enter the wound.
  • Treat for shock: To reduce the risk of shock, keep the victim’s body temperature normal. Cover unburned areas with a dry blanket.
For information about Fire Department education programs, please see Safety Education.
Candle Safety
Candles may be pretty to look at but they are a growing cause of home fires-and home fire deaths. Remember, a candle is an open flame, meaning that it can easily ignite any combustible material nearby. And because candle fires spread so quickly, it's essential that you have working smoke alarms in your residence and a home fire escape plan ready to go. Follow these tips to help you use candles safely.

Reducing the risk

  • Never leave a burning candle unattended. Extinguish all candles when you leave the room or go to bed. Almost half of all home fires started by candles begin in the bedroom. The National Fire Prevention Association discourages the use of candles in the bedroom and other areas where people may fall asleep.
  • Keep candles at least one foot away from anything that can burn, including curtains, blinds, wallpaper, clothing or any other material that can catch fire.
  • Don't place lit candles in windows or near doorways where drafts could bring combustibles in contact with the flame.
  • Keep candles away from flammable liquids.
"Candle with Care"

  • Use candle holders that are sturdy, won't tip over easily, are made from a material that can't burn, and are large enough to collect dripping wax.
  • Place candle holders on a sturdy, uncluttered surface-away from edges and any place where they could be knocked over by kids or pets.
  • Light candles carefully. Keep your hair and any loose clothing away from the flame.
  • Keep candle wicks trimmed to one-quarter inch.
  • Extinguish candles when they burn down to within two inches of their holder or any decorative material.
  • Extinguish candles carefully, using a long-handled candle snuffer or a soft, directed breath. Be careful not to splatter wax when extinguishing. Do not leave the room until wicks have stopped glowing.
  • Avoid using candles during a power outage. Have flashlights and battery-powered lighting on hand for emergency lighting. - link to national fuel fund info.
Candles and kids

  • Never leave a child unattended in a room with a burning candle.
  • Don't allow kids or teens to burn candles in their bedrooms.
  • Don't let kids play with candles or dripping wax - or with materials that could catch fire near candles.
  • Store matches and lighters up high and out of children's sight and reach, preferably in a locked cabinet.
For information about Fire Department education programs, please see Safety Education.
Child Car Seat Safety
Car seat installation is not one of the services performed by the Fire Department, but there are several agencies in Orange County that provide car seat safety classes and inspections. Huntington Beach residents can contact any organization on this Orange County Passenger Safety Resource Guide.
Child Passenger Safety

Car crashes are a leading cause of death in the US to children 1-14 years of age according to the National Center for Health Statistics. They are also a major cause of permanent brain damage, epilepsy, and spinal cord injuries. Many of the deaths and injuries can be prevented with the proper use of car seats.

California Law requires that children must ride in a child restraint until they are 6 years old or 60 pounds. Children over 6 years or 60 pounds must ride in a properly fitted seat belt until they are 16 years old. To achieve a proper fit, most children need to ride in a booster seat after they outgrow car seats. Make sure the lap belt fits low over the hips and the shoulder belt fits across the center of the chest. Use of booster seats requires BOTH a lap and shoulder belt.

As of January 2005, children must ride in the back seat until they are at least 6 years old or weigh 60 pounds.

CHOC recommendations:

  • Always read and follow the directions that come with the car seat.
  • Read your car owner's manual. It will describe how your seat belts lock, if you need to use a locking clip to put in your car seat, and if you can use a tether strap to reduce forward head movement in a crash.
  • All seats have height and weight limits. Make sure you buy a seat that is appropriate for your child's height, weight, and physical needs.
  • If your car seat is over 6 years old or has been in a crash, it may not be safe. Buy a new one.
  • Put children under 13 in the back seat. It is the safest place for any child to ride.
  • Get a tight fit. Car seats should move no more than one inch from side to side or toward the front of the car.
  • Children should face the rear of the vehicle until age 2, or until they reach the maximum height and weight of their seat.
  • NEVER put an infant facing the rear of the car in the front seat with an active airbag.
  • Harness straps should be as snug as possible and the harness clip should be placed at armpit level.
  • Young infants need to ride reclined to keep their airway open. The most a rear facing car seat should be reclined is 45 degrees.
Children Playing With Fire
Children playing with fire cause hundreds of deaths and thousands of injuries each year. Preschoolers are most likely to start these fires, typically by playing with matches and lighters.

Facts & figures

  • In 2008, children playing with fire started 53,500 fires that were reported to U.S. fire departments, causing an estimated 70 civilian deaths, 910 civilian injuries and $279 million in direct property damage.
  • Most of the people killed in child-playing fires are under 5, and such fires are the leading cause of fire deaths among preschoolers.
  • Roughly three out of every four child-playing fires -- and at least four-fifths of associated deaths and injuries -- involve matches or lighters.
  • The child-playing fire problem has been smaller, relative to population, in Canada and much smaller in Japan.
  • Children also start fires by playing with candles, stoves, fireworks and cigarettes.
  • Among fatal home fires started by children playing, three out of five involve children igniting bedding, mattresses, upholstered furniture or clothing.
  • Just over half of child playing fires in the home start in a bedroom.
  • Children who start fires may be children in crisis, with the fires acting as cries for help from stressful life experiences or abuse, according to studies of fire-setting behavior.

Safety tips

  • Store matches and lighters out of children's reach and sight, up high, preferably in a locked cabinet.
  • Never use lighters or matches as a source of amusement for children. They may imitate what you do.
  • If your child expresses curiosity about fire or has been playing with fire, calmly but firmly explain that matches and lighters are tools for adults only.
  • Use only lighters designed with child-resistant features, and store up high in a locked cabinet.
  • Teach young children to tell an adult if they see matches or lighters, and teach school-age children to bring any matches or lighters to an adult.
  • Never leave matches or lighters in a bedroom or any place where children may go without supervision.
  • If you suspect your child is intentionally setting fires or unduly fascinated with fire, get help immediately. Your local fire department, school, or community-counseling agency can put you in touch with experts trained to help. The phone number for the Huntington Beach Fire Department is (714) 536-5411.
Carbon Monoxide Poisoning
What is Carbon Monoxide?

Carbon monoxide (CO) is a tasteless, colorless, odorless gas produced by burning fuel. Therefore, any fuel-burning appliance in your home is a potential CO source. When appliances are kept in good working condition, they produce little CO. Improperly operating appliances can produce fatal CO concentrations. Likewise, using charcoal indoors or running a car in a closed garage can cause CO poisoning.

What are the Symptoms of CO Poisoning?

Carbon monoxide can kill you.  The initial symptoms of CO poisoning are similar to the flu (but without fever). They include: dizziness, nausea, fatigue, irregular breathing, and headache.  If you have any of these symptoms, and if you feel better when you go outside your home and symptoms reappear once you’re back inside, you may have CO poisoning.

What are the Requirements for CO Detectors?

California Senate Bill 183 requires CO alarms in all new and existing single and multifamily homes. For new construction and remodel requirements, contact the Huntington Beach Department of Planning and Building at (714)536-5271.

For existing buildings the requirements include:

  • CO alarms are required in every home or bedroom within which gas or wood burning appliances are installed and in homes that have attached garages.
  • CO alarms may be plug in or battery operated models.
  • CO alarms are required to be approved by the Office of the State Fire Marshal.
  • CO alarms are required on every level of a home, including basements.
  • CO alarms are required outside of each home sleeping areas in the immediate vicinity of the bedrooms.
  • Combined smoke and CO alarms are allowed and are required to be approved by the Office of the State Fire Marshal.
  • CO alarms are required to be installed according to the manufacturer's installation instructions.
What can you do?

  • Check your CO detector for proper function according to the manufacturer's instructions.
  • Make sure appliances are installed according to the manufacturer's instructions and local building codes.  Most appliances should be installed by professionals.
  • Have your heating system (including chimneys and vents) inspected and serviced annually.
  • Follow manufacturer's directions for safe operation.
  • Examine vents and chimneys regularly for improper connections, visible rust, or stains.
  • Look for problems that could indicate improper appliance operation, such as:
                o Decreasing hot water supply

                o Inability of furnace to heat house or runs constantly

                o Sooting, especially on appliances

                o Unfamiliar or burning odor

For information about Fire Department education programs, please see Safety Education.
Drowning Prevention
Protection

  • Never leave your child alone or out of sight while he/she is in or near a pool.
  • Children under the age of three should be kept within arm’s reach of an adult while in the pool.
  • Keep a phone poolside so you won’t have to leave children unsupervised to make or answer a call.
  • Always use approved personal flotation devices, rather than inflatable toys, to keep your child afloat.
  • Do not consider children “drown proof” because they have had swimming lessons.
  • Prohibit diving in shallow water and in all above ground pools. Diving into shallow water can result in cervical spine injuries causing permanent paralysis.
  • Stay out of the water during a thunderstorm.
  • Look in the pool area first, if a child is missing.
  • Communicate pool safety rules with baby-sitters and guests.
  • Know how to swim, proper rescue techniques and CPR.
If you uncover an unconscious child in the pool, follow these steps:

  • Remove the child from the water and place onto the deck area.
  • If someone is with you, have him or her call 9-1-1.
  • Determine if the child is breathing: tilt the head back; if you don't hear breathing or see the chest rising, begin CPR until emergency help arrives.
  • If you are alone and the child is not breathing, start CPR. After one minute, call 9-1-1. Return to the child and continue CPR until help arrives.
For additional information on water safety, see our brochure on Children Drown Without a Sound...Water Safety Tips.

For information about Fire Department education programs, please see Safety Education.
Earthquake Preparedness
The Huntington Beach Fire Department Emergency Management and Homeland Security Office has prepared the following information on preparing for an earthquake. To be ready for an earthquake, you must prepare yourself, your home, and your family. When earthquakes strike, electrical power may go out, gas lines and water lines may break, buildings may collapse, and residents may require emergency medical assistance. In a major emergency, police, fire, and paramedic resources are often overwhelmed and unable to respond to all calls for assistance. Therefore, it is important you and your family be prepared to be self-sufficient for three to five days.

To ensure that your family is prepared for such an emergency, you should do the following:

  • Have a family disaster plan
  • Have a plan for your workplace
  • Know the plan for your children’s school and participate in the school’s preparedness efforts
  • Have sufficient food, water, medical prescriptions, and disaster supplies to sustain your family for at least 72 hours
  • Eliminate hazards in your home
  • Know how and when to shut off damaged or leaking utilities
  • Ensure your family is fire safe
  • Be sure to have smoke detectors and fire extinguishers in your home
  • Have an evacuation plan and a "Grab-N-Go" bag ready
If you are a Huntington Beach resident, you are encouraged to participate in the Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) program to better prepare yourself.

For information about Fire Department education programs, please see Safety Education.
Electrical Devices
Clothes Dryers

Never leave synthetic fabrics, plastics, rubber or foam in the dryer for longer than the manufacturer's recommended time. Clean the lint screen before and after use. Keep the immediate area free of combustibles. Dryers must be vented to outside and plugged into their own outlet.

Electric Blankets, Heating Pads

Never fold or roll an electric blanket.  Heat will build up on wires, igniting the blanket and the rest of the bed. Unplug and store flat when not in use. Don’t leave a heating pad on for more than 30 minutes. Never fall asleep with it on. Set your alarm clock to awaken you in 30 minutes, if necessary

Portable Space Heaters

Use one with a thermostat (not just a switch) that shuts off by itself when tipped over. Plug directly into its own outlet. Use in an area free of combustibles and well ventilated for heat to escape. Never leave it on overnight.

Vaporizers

Never leave vaporizers unattended or near combustibles. Keep the water level high. Check the cord at the plug to make sure it is not too hot. If it is, disconnect it immediately. It must be plugged into its own outlet, or with a heavy-duty extension cord.

Wires, Plugs and Extension Cords

Keep down the number of cords in one outlet. Never run cords under rugs where they may become worn. Replace worn cords.  Be sure to use a proper gauge of extension cord, especially with power tools and high wattage appliances.

For information about Fire Department education programs, please see Safety Education.
Fire Extinguishers
Choosing your Extinguisher

Fire Extinguishers are tested by independent laboratories and labeled for the type and size of fire they can extinguish. Use these labels as a guide to purchase the kind of extinguisher that suits your needs.  The recommended extinguisher for home use is the multipurpose type.

Classes of Fires

Class A:  Ordinary combustibles such as wood, cloth, and paper

Class B:  Flammable liquids, such as gasoline, oil, and oil-based paint

Class C:  Energized electrical equipment, including wiring, fuse boxes, circuit breakers, and appliances. 

The extinguisher must be appropriate for the type of fire being fought. If you use the wrong extinguisher, you can endanger yourself and make the fire worse. Multipurpose fire extinguishers marked ABC may be used on all three classes of fires.

Extinguisher Sizes

Portable extinguishers are also rated for the size of fire they can handle. This rating will appear on the label.  For example: 2A:10B:C. The  larger  the numbers, the larger the fire that the extinguisher can put out, but higher-rated models are often heavier. Make sure you can hold and operate an extinguisher before you buy it.

Installation and Maintenance

Extinguishers should be installed in plain view, above the reach of children, near an escape route, and away from stoves and heating appliances.  Extinguishers require routine care. Read your operator’s manual to learn how to inspect your extinguisher. Follow manufacturer’s instructions on maintenance. Rechargeable models must be serviced after every use. (Service companies are listed in the Yellow Pages under  “Fire Protection Equipment”.) Disposable fire extinguishers can only be used once and must be replaced after use.

Operation of a Fire Extinguisher

  • Keep your back to an unobstructed exit and stand six to eight feet away from the fire.
  • Pull the pin.  This unlocks the operating lever and allows you to discharge the extinguisher.
  • Point the extinguisher nozzle (or hose) at the base of the fire.
  • Squeeze the lever above the handle.  This discharges the extinguishing agent. Releasing the lever will stop the discharge.
  • Sweep from side to side: Moving carefully toward the fire, keep the extinguisher aimed at the base of the fire and sweep back and forth until the flames appear to be out. Watch the fire area. If the fire re-ignites, repeat the process.
Should you fight the fire?
      Before you begin to fight a fire:

  • Make sure everyone has left, or is leaving the building.
  • Make sure the fire department has been called.
  • Make sure you have an unobstructed escape route to which the fire will not spread.
  • Be sure you have read the instructions and know how to use the extinguisher.
For information about Fire Department education programs, please see Safety Education.
Fire Safety at Special Public Assembly Programs
Fireplaces and Chimneys
  • Use only dried woods and never use flammable liquids to start a fire. Dispose of cool ashes in a covered metal container. Never leave a fire unattended. When burning, keep the damper open, flammable materials away, and the glass door/screen closed.
  • Have chimneys cleaned professionally by a chimney sweep once a year
  • Never burn papers, boxes, or Christmas trees in the fireplace.
For information about Fire Department education programs, please see Safety Education.
Flammability of Clothing
  • How does clothing catch fire?
  • What government agency regulates fabric flammability?
  • If fabrics pass U. S. Consumer Product Safety Commission standards under the Flammable Fabrics Act, will they burn?
  • Will fabrics manufactured for flame resistance or treated for flame resistance burn?
  • If fabrics are labeled, R-flame resistant S and/or R-flame retardant S does it mean the same thing?
  • Do all fibers burn in the same way?
  • Are there fibers and fabrics that do not burn?
  • How can you tell the different fibers apart?
  • Do most fabrics burn at the same speed?
  • Does garment design affect safety?
  • What does the Flammable Fabrics Act do?
  • Are there other regulations that apply to textile flammability?
  • How do these flammability regulations work?
  • What is the benefit of flammability regulations?
  • Are the regulations often changed?
  • Have there been any recent changes in these standards?
  • If you are in a house fire wearing flame resistant clothing, are you protected?
  • How can you tell if a garment is flame resistant or flame retardant?
How does clothing catch fire?

Clothing will not burn unless it comes into contact with high heat, such as a spark, an open flame, or other ignition sources. Usually textile fires are caused by smoking cigarettes, candles, children playing with matches, flammable liquids, incorrectly used space heaters, barbecue grills, or other flame sources. Remember, clothing can ignite even without an open flame. Clothing fires can result in severe, painful, and costly burn injuries.

What government agency regulates fabric flammability?

The Consumer Product Safety Commission, a division of the Department of Commerce, oversees the various fabric flammability regulations. Check their website at: http://cpsc.gov/. This site has up to date information from the Federal Register about most flammability issues. Some other federal or state agencies such as the Federal Aviation Administration, or the State Department of Transportation, may regulate other textile products like automotive carpet and upholstery textiles for aircraft interiors.

If fabrics pass U. S. Consumer Product Safety Commission standards under the Flammable Fabrics Act, will they burn?

Yes.  All natural and synthetic fibers commonly used in apparel and home furnishings fabrics are flammable and will burn under the right conditions unless specifically treated and/or manufactured for flame resistance. Treated and specifically modified textiles are less likely to ignite and may burn more slowly if they do ignite.

Will fabrics manufactured for flame resistance or treated for flame resistance burn?

Yes, under the right circumstances. Flame resistant fabrics are slow to ignite, burn more slowly, and may self-extinguish when the source of flame or heat is removed. The flame resistance offers a margin of safety which allows a person a little extra time to remove garments, drop and roll to smother the flames, or otherwise extinguish the fire.

If fabrics are labeled, R-flame resistant S and/or R-flame retardant S does it mean the same thing?

Almost. Flame resistant means that a fiber or fabric is difficult to ignite or catch fire. It may also mean that it will burn slowly and self-extinguish if the source of the heat or flame is removed. R-Flame retardant S means that the fabric will burn slowly and may self-extinguish when the source of heat or flame is removed.

Do all fibers burn in the same way?

No.  Different generic classes of fibers have different burning characteristics.   Cotton and other cellulosic fibers (linen, rayon, lyocell, ramie) ignite easily, burn with a bright flame, smell like burning paper, and leave a white feathery ash.  Polyester and nylon fibers may be slower to ignite, shrink and pull away from the flame source initially, but eventually will burn with a flame. As they burn, the melting residue holds heat and cools slowly to form a hard bead-like plastic residue that holds heat and cools slowly.  A chemical odor is produced.  The melting residue is a very high temperature and can cause deep and severe skin burns. Acrylic fibers burn with a flaming, melting drip of molten material.  All manufactured fibers burn at a high temperature and can cause severe skin injury because they shrink as they burn and tend to stick to the skin.  Wool and silk (protein fibers) shrink from the flame, are hard to ignite, smell like burning meat or flesh, sputter as they burn and leave a crisp, foamy crushable residue. Although these fibers have R-natural-S flame retardance, because they are difficult to ignite and burn slowly, fabrics of these fibers often burn easily because of an open fabric weave or knit and dyes or finishes present.  Blended fabrics, such as cotton and polyester fibers together in one fabric, for example, combine to make a fabric that doesn’t burn like either fiber.  Blends sometimes are more dangerous than either individual fiber.

Are there fibers and fabrics that do not burn?

Yes.  Some fibers are engineered for industrial purposes to be flame resistant. Fabrics made from glass, aramid, novoloid, sulfur, and saran fibers do not burn with a flame and can withstand high heat. They may char and degrade in high heat. Because of their high cost, texture, and appearance they are used in specialty gear and industrial applications, but are not commonly found in consumer clothing and household textiles.  Flammable fibers can be given flame resistant finishes to reduce their likelihood of catching fire.

How can you tell the different fibers apart?

The different burning characteristics of cellulosic, protein, and manufactured fibers are often used as an initial step in fiber identification for beginning textile students. Microscopic examination can usually identify different cellulosic fibers. However, solubility tests must be used to classify manufactured fibers.

Do most fabrics burn at the same speed?

No.  Fabric construction greatly alters burning.  Fibers burn differently when they are in a cloth structure. The more oxygen that is available between the fibers, the more rapid the burning. Open structures that provide a lot of access to oxygen burn quickly. Napped (fuzzy) finishes and very thin light weaves, such as cotton voile, open weaves or knits, tend to foster quick ignition and swift burning. Heavy fabrics that are closely woven, such as denim twills, burn more slowly, but because of the quantity of material, burn longer.

Does garment design affect safety?

Yes.  Clothing is safer, even though flammable, if it fits close to the body or has quick-release closures/openings (e.g. snaps, velcro, etc.) so it can be removed rapidly if it catches fire.  A garment made with lots of extra fabric is more likely to catch fire.  Robes are safer if sleeves are 3/4 length because they can be ignited as a person reaches across a gas or electric range burner. Trims, bows, french cuffs, ruffles, ect. all contribute to higher risk of clothing ignition.  Clothing that fits closely or snugly to the body is less apt to stray into a flame source and, if it ignites, tends to self-extinguish.

What does the Flammable Fabrics Act do?

The Flammable Fabrics Act of 1953, and its most recent Amendment, forbids the marketing of dangerously flammable material in inter-state commerce.  It includes all wearing apparel of any fiber content or construction.  It aims to keep highly dangerous fabrics off the consumer market.  Testing by the Consumer Products Safety Commission results in the recall of garments that fail a flammability test. The general wearing apparel test most commonly used is the 45 degree angle test; most apparel fabrics pass it easily. Fabrics that fail are often highly napped rayon or very thin cotton fabrics, such as imported voile. Under the Amendment, more rigorous requirements have been applied to specific product categories, such as children's sleepwear, mattresses and mattress pads, carpets and rugs, and vinyl films.

Are there other regulations that apply to textile flammability?

Yes.  Flammability standards have been enacted for vinyl plastic film, large carpets and rugs, small carpets and rugs, children's sleepwear 9 months to 6X, mattresses, and children's sleepwear sizes 7 - 14.  The children's sleepwear standard excludes diapers and underwear.

How do these flammability regulations work?

Standard flammability tests have been created to measure ignition ease, flaming, rate of burn, or flame spread (in the case of carpets). Using these standard test methods fabrics can be compared and ranked regarding their safety.  Failure to meet the children's sleepwear test would mean that the garment could not be marketed.

What is the benefit of flammability regulations?

The incidence of burn injury and death due to ignition of sleepwear among children decreased greatly after the enactment of the Children's Sleepwear Standard in the 1970s.  Mattresses that self-extinguish when people go to sleep smoking are less likely to cause burn injury or death from smoke inhalation.  Carpets and rugs that self-extinguish without spreading the flame throughout the house or office can reduce property damage and personal injury or death.

Are the regulations often changed?

No.  It is very time consuming to establish a standard.  Therefore, it is difficult and time consuming to get them changed. Manufacturers, governmental agencies, and all interested parties' lawyers must agree on the need for standard appropriate test methods. Hearings are conducted to solicit public comment and proposed rules must be published in the Federal Register ahead of time.  Developing such regulations is a tedious process. However, occasionally flammability standards do change.

Have there been any recent changes in these standards?

Recently the Children's Sleepwear Standard was revised to exclude sizes zero to nine months because very few children of that age had suffered burn injury from sleepwear ignition.  Parents are advised to choose snug fitting sleepwear for very young children to minimize any chance of clothing ignition.

If you are in a house fire wearing flame resistant clothing, are you protected?

No.  Most people who die in house fires die from smoke inhalation.  However, flame resistant or flame retardant clothing is not sufficient to protect from burn injury in such a situation.

How can you tell if a garment is flame resistant or flame retardant?

Unless labeled as flame retardant or flame resistant all clothing should be considered flammable.

For information about Fire Department education programs, please see Safety Education.


High Rise Condo Safety
People living in a high-rise apartment or condominium building need to think ahead and be prepared in the event of a fire. It is important to know the fire safety features in your building and work together with neighbors to help keep the building as fire-safe as possible.

Be Prepared

  • For the best protection, select a fully sprinklered building. If your building is not sprinklered, ask the landlord or management to consider installing a sprinkler system.
  • Meet with your landlord or building manager to learn about the fire safety features in your building (fire alarms, sprinklers, voice communication procedures, evacuation plans and how to respond to an alarm).
  • Know the locations of all available exit stairs from your floor in case the nearest one is blocked by fire or smoke.
  • Make sure all exit and stairwell doors are clearly marked, not locked or blocked by security bars, and clear of clutter.
  • If there is a fire, pull the fire alarm on your way out to notify the fire department and your neighbors.
  • If the fire alarm sounds, feel the door before opening and close all doors behind you as you leave. If it is hot, use another way out. If it is cool, leave by the nearest way out.
  • If an announcement is made throughout the building, listen carefully and follow directions.
  • Use the stairs to get out - never use the elevator unless you are directed to by the fire department.

Escape 101

  • Go to your outside meeting place and stay there. Call 9-1-1. If someone is trapped in the building, notify the fire department.
  • If you can't get out of your apartment because of fire, smoke or a disability, stuff wet towels or sheets around the door and vents to keep smoke out.
  • Call 9-1-1 and tell them where you are located.
  • Open a window slightly and wave a bright cloth to signal your location. Be prepared to close the window if it makes the smoke condition worse.
  • Fire Department evacuation of a high-rise building can take a long time. Communicate with the fire department to monitor evacuation status.
For information, please visit www.nfpa.org/education.
Holiday Fire Safety
Fourth of July

The sale, distribution and discharge of fireworks is not allowed in the City of Huntington Beach, including discharge of fireworks on beaches or in parks. Attendance at officially sponsored public events that include fireworks displays is encouraged. 

Halloween

  • Young children should always be accompanied by adults. Make sure older children travel in groups.  Instruct all children not to enter someone's house when trick-or-treating.
  • Do not allow children to eat unwrapped or homemade treats.
  • Check all treats prior to giving them to children.
  • Wear light colored costumes or use reflective tape so children can be easily seen by motorists.  Use nontoxic makeup instead of a mask which can limit or block vision.
  • Always use crosswalks and be cautious when crossing the street.
  • Use flashlights instead of candles, lanterns or any open flame.
Christmas Trees

  • Cut two to three inches off the bottom of a fresh tree and put the tree in water immediately.  This prevents the sap from forming over the cut and allows the tree to absorb the water.  Use a sturdy holder and daily fill it with water.
  • Check lights carefully for broken sockets or frayed wires before you put them on your tree. Replace any strings that look damaged.
  • Keep your tree away from heat sources, such as fireplaces and heaters, which will dry it out.
  • Keep your tree out of the path of household traffic and don’t let it block your exit in case you need to escape from a fire. 
  • Unplug the tree lights and any outdoor lights when you go to bed or leave the house.
  • Avoid placing breakable ornaments with small parts on lower branches where children or pets can reach them. Ornaments and other holiday decorations should be non-combustible, or flame resistant. Do not burn wrapping paper or tree branches in the fireplace or oven. Dispose of holiday trash and your Christmas tree safely.  Do so soon after the holiday is over.
For information about Fire Department education programs, please see Safety Education.
Hotel Motel Safety
Vacations and business travel make hotels and motels our home away from home. It is just as important to be prepared and know what you would do in a hotel/motel emergency as it is in your own home.

Be Safe When Traveling

  • Choose a hotel/motel that is protected by both smoke alarms and a fire sprinkler system.
  • When you check in, ask the front desk what the fire alarm sounds like.
  • When you enter your room, review the escape plan posted in your room.
  • Take the time to find the exits and count of number of doors between your room and the exit. Make sure the exits are unlocked. If they are locked, report it to management right away.
  • If the alarm sounds, leave right away, closing all doors behind you. Use the stairs – never use the elevators during a fire.

If You Can't Escape

SHUT off fans and air conditioners.
STUFF wet towels in the crack around the doors.
CALL the fire department and let them know your location.
WAIT at the window and signal with a flashlight or light colored cloth.

FACTS

  • On average, one of every 12 hotels or motels reported a structure fire each year.
  • The majority of hotel fire deaths result from fires that started in the bedroom.
  • Cooking equipment is the leading cause of hotel/motel fires.
For more information, visit http://www.nfpa.org/education.
Home Fire Escape Plans
Prepare for an Emergency Escape

Plan and practice a fire escape route from every room.

  • Use a chain or rope ladder to escape from upper levels and practice using it.
  • Teach small children not to hide from firefighters.
  • Trigger the smoke detector alarm so your children get used to the sound.
  • Identify a place outside to meet in case of a fire.
Using your Escape Plan

  • Crawl low under smoke and keep your mouth covered.
  • Feel closed doors with the back of your hand. If hot, don’t open it; use another exit.
  • If not hot, open the door slowly and check for smoke and fire.
  • Meet at a designated place outside, then call for help.  Never return to a burning building.
For information about Fire Department education programs, please see Safety Education.
Home Fire Hazards
  • Cooking Fires
  • Electrical Devices and Appliances
  • Fire Places and Chimneys
  • Storage Fires
Cooking Fires

Stovetop

Keep combustibles (paper, plastics, potholders, towels, etc.) away from the stovetop. Never heat cooking oil in a pan and leave the room. The oil can ignite spontaneously at a certain temperature. If fire starts, put a lid on pan and turn burner off until pan is cool.

Oven

Avoid letting grease build up in the oven. A greasy broiler can catch fire even during pre-heating. Grease from fatty meat can flare up and start a fire. If a fire starts, shut off the oven. Smother the fire by keeping the oven door closed. If the fire does not go out, use a type ABC fire extinguisher.

Leaking Gas

Never enter an area with a match or a lit cigarette if you smell gas from a stove, pipe, or heater. The smallest spark or flame could ignite gas in the air and cause an explosion.

Electrical Devices and Appliances

Electric Blankets, Heating Pads

Never fold or roll an electric blanket. Heat will build up on wires, igniting the blanket and the rest of the bed. Unplug and store flat when not in use. Don’t leave a heating pad on for more than 30 minutes. Never fall asleep with it on. Set your alarm clock to awaken you in 30 minutes if necessary.

Wires, Plugs and Extension Cords

Keep down the number of cords in one outlet. Never run cords under rugs, behind radiators or across doorways where they may become worn. Have broken cords, switches making hiccup sounds, and hot plugs professionally repaired. Don’t mask problems with masking tape. Be sure to use a proper gauge of extension cord,especially with power tools and high wattage appliances.

Light Bulbs

If a light bulb is too large overheating can occur and cause ignition.

Clothes Dryers

Never leave synthetic fabrics, plastics, rubber or foam in the dryer for longer than the manufacturer's recommended time. Clean the lint screen before and after use. Keep the immediate area free of combustibles. Dryers must be vented to outside and plugged into its own outlet.

Vaporizers

Never leave vaporizers unattended or near combustibles. Keep the water level high. Check the cord at the plug to make sure it is not too hot. If it is, disconnect it immediately. It must be plugged into its own outlet, or with a heavy-duty extension cord.

Portable Space Heaters

Use one with thermostat (not just a switch) that shuts off by itself when tipped over. Plug directly into its own outlet. Use in an area free of combustibles and well ventilated for heat to escape. Never leave it on overnight.

Furnace, Radiators, Water Heaters

Install properly and safely away from walls and ceilings. Never store combustibles on or near units. Keep ducts and filters dust free by cleaning several times a year with unit shut off.

Fire Places and Chimneys

  • Use only dried woods and never use flammable liquids to start a fire. Dispose of cool ashes in a covered metal container. Never leave a fire unattended. When burning, keep the damper open, flammable materials away and the glass door/screen closed.
  • Have chimneys cleaned professionally by a chimney sweep once a year
  • Have vents and chimneys examined regularly for improper connections, visible rust, or stains.
Storage Fires

Oil Soaked Rags

Dry out rags by spreading them in a well-ventilated area so heat can escape, then wash. Never put oily rags in a pile because they can ignite themselves. Store in a labeled, metal container, sealed with a tight lid.

Charcoal

Store unused charcoal in a cool dry place. Damp charcoal can ignite itself. Use a metal pail/garbage can with a tight lid and place it where heat can escape if self-ignition should occur.

Flammable Liquids
Never use or store in a room with a pilot light, or too close to hot light bulbs. Vapors in the air can easily ignite. Store in a cool, dry room in a labeled metal container with a tight lid.

Newspaper Storage

Avoid storing in a damp, warm place because newspapers generate heat and can ignite themselves. Store in a cool, dry place at least three feet away from any heat-generating source, such as a pilot light.

For information about Fire Department education programs, please see Safety Education.
Household Hazardous Waste Disposal
Household hazardous wastes must be managed carefully and legally disposed of through a certified household hazardous waste collection facility.  Items such as televisions, computer monitors, fluorescent tubes, motor oil, antifreeze, automotive fluids, leftover paint, pesticides, fertilizers, and household cleaning products are all examples of hazardous waste.  These items may NOT be placed in the trash, and trash containing these items will not be collected. 

Huntington Beach residents may dispose of such wastes at the Rainbow Environmental Services facility located at 17121 Nichols Street (south of Warner Avenue, between Beach Boulevard and Gothard Street).  This facility is open from Tuesday to Saturday, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., except on rainy days.  Enter at gate # 6.  There is no charge to Orange County residents.   Proof of residency may be required.  Hazardous waste is not accepted from businesses, schools, government agencies, churches or non-profit organizations.  To obtain more information, call their hotline at (714) 834-4000, or visit their web site at www.oclandfills.com. 
For information regarding the City's Hazardous Materials Disclosure Program, including frequently asked questions concerning hazardous materials, please click on the link below. 

Additional information can be obtained at the following telephone numbers:

9-1-1                     Hazardous Materials Emergencies     

(714) 834-4000     OC Waste and Recycling

(714) 433-6000     Health Care Agency (Environmental Health)

800 CLEANUP       CIWMB Recycling Hotline (Motor Oil)

800 876-4766       Orange County Poison Control Center

800 69-TOXIC      Waste Alert to report illegal dumping

Related links include:

Hazardous Materials Disclosure Program

For information about Fire Department education programs, please see Safety Education.
Power Outage Preparedness
The Huntington Beach Fire Department Emergency Services Office has prepared the following list of safety, security, and health measures that you should use to prepare for a power outage.

Safety Measures

  • Purchase needed items for your home, office and car, including: flashlights, batteries, AM/FM battery powered radio, rechargeable power lights and light sticks.
  • Keep cash and change on hand; in power failures ATMs may not work and you may need to make a phone call at a pay phone.
  • Phones that are cordless and phones with answering machines are power dependent. Have one that does not require power to operate in case you need to call 9-1-1. Keep your cell phone powered up.
  • Familiarize yourself with your main electrical panel. You may be required to turn off the main breaker, or have to reset circuit breakers.
  • Portable generators are an excellent source of backup power if operated safely. Safely store fuel outside, never indoors, and not in the garage. Operate generators outside and only use fresh gasoline because old gasoline may ignite. Plug appliances directly into the generator and never attach generators to the facility current.
  • To save electricity use your fireplace, but do so responsibly. Don't burn wood with paint or stain. Any time you have an open flame in your home you should observe it at all times. Make sure you close your fireplace screen to prevent sparks from flying. Do not store newspapers, kindling, matches, or any combustibles near the fireplace.
  • Do not use candles for lighting. Use lanterns. If you use candles, make sure you have smoke detectors in all rooms and that the batteries are operating. Have a fire extinguisher and know how to operate it. Have a fire evacuation plan and practice fire drills.
  • If your smoke detectors are wired directly into the electrical system they will not operate during a power failure. Consider purchasing a smoke detector with batteries as a backup. Special smoke detectors are available for the hearing impaired.
  • During the power outage unplug all small appliances to avoid a power surge. Leave one light on so you know when the power comes back on.
  • When power comes back on you may have to reset your clocks, VCRs, microwave ovens, programmable thermostats, burglar and fire alarms.
Security Measures

  • Have a plan for checking on and reuniting family members.
  • Stay home and be safe. Stores and gas stations may be closed. Don't add to the confusion by driving around.
  • During a power outage traffic signals may be out. If so, remember the intersection becomes a 4-way Stop.
  • Watch for suspicious activity. Criminals may decide to take advantage of the power outage. Always call 9-1-1 if you notice suspicious activity.
Health Measures

  • Focus on children's needs. Provide a flashlight for each child that they can keep by their bed and in their backpacks. Discuss living without electricity and how the outage is usually short-term.
  • Help elderly and disabled individuals who are on power-dependent medical devices arrange for back-up power.
  • Have a first aid kit in your home, office, and car. Take first aid and CPR training.
  • Sewer pump stations have limited storage capacity. As much as possible, do not flush your toilet during a power outage.
Be a good neighbor and check on the elderly, disabled, and children who are home alone during a power outage. They may need your help. Also, try to conserve electricity between the hours of 5 to 9 a.m. and 4 to 7 p.m. This helps prevent power emergencies.

Click here for information on Fire Department CERT disaster preparedness classes. For information about Fire Department education programs, please see Safety Education.
Radio Controlled (RC) Battery Charger Safety
Smoke Detectors
How effective are smoke detectors?

Residential fire deaths have decreased steadily as the number of homes with smoke detectors increased. Reports from the National Fire Protection Association on residential fire deaths show that people have nearly 40-50 percent better chance of surviving a fire if their home has the recommended number of smoke detectors.

Should I replace my smoke detector?

Smoke detectors that are 10 years old are near the end of their service life and should be replaced. A smoke detector constantly monitors the air 24 hours a day. At the end of 10 years, it has gone through more than 3.5 million monitoring cycles. After this much use, components may become less reliable. This means that as the detector gets older, the potential of failure increases. Replacing them after 10 years reduces this possibility. Starting January 1, 2015, all new smoke detectors will have a non-removable, non-replaceable battery that is capable of charging the smoke alarm for at least 10 years. They will also display the manufacture date on the device, and have a place on it where the installation date can be written in. This new design is to assist in replacing at the right time.

My detectors are wired into my electrical system. Do I need to replace them as often as battery-operated detectors?

Yes. Both types of detectors are equally affected by age.

How many detectors should I have?

Smoke detectors in residential structures shall be installed as required by the California Code, Health and Safety Code §13113.7.  Structures built after July 1992 requires one smoke detector in every bedroom and in the hallway outside the sleeping areas. If the home has more than one level, a smoke detector is required on all levels.

Is there more than one type of smoke detector, and what is the difference?

There are two types of smoke detectors for homes. One type is called an ionization detector because it monitors "ions," or electrically charged particles. Smoke particles entering the sensing chamber change the electrical balance of the air. The detector's horn will sound when the change in electrical balance reaches a preset level. The other type of detector is called photoelectric because its sensing chamber uses a beam of light and a light sensor. Smoke particles entering the chamber change the amount of light that reaches the light sensor. The detector sounds when the smoke density reaches a preset level.

Is one type better than the other?

The ionization detector responds faster to small smoke particles, while the photoelectric responds faster to large smoke particles. As a rule of thumb, fast-flaming fires produce more small smoke particles and smoldering fires produce more large particles. Thus, the response time of the two types of detectors will vary, depending on the mix of small and large smoke particles in the fire. But test results show that the differences in response time are small enough that both types provide enough time to escape.

What is more important, the type of detector or the number of them?

The number of detectors is more important than the type. Installing several smoke detectors of each type will provide better coverage in the extreme cases of long-term smoldering of fast flaming fires. But since both types of detectors will respond in time to escape, the most important thing is to install enough detectors in the proper locations.

Detectors are available with both types of sensors in the same unit, but they are more expensive than models with a single sensor. If the choice is between having only one of each type or having more of the same type, more detectors is the better choice.

My detector goes off when I cook. How can I stop this?

Smoke detectors are designed to be very sensitive so they will alert occupants to a fire in time for them to escape. If a detector regularly responds to smoke from cooking, there are several options for handling this problem. One way is to use heat detectors instead in the kitchen. Another way is to move the smoke detector farther away, giving the smoke a chance to dissipate. Moving a ceiling-mounted detector to a wall can also reduce nuisance alarms. However, this will also make it a little slower to respond to a real fire.

If the detector is the ionization type, another option is to replace it with a photoelectric one. This detector is less sensitive to smaller smoke particles and thus is less affected by cooking smoke.

How can I test my detector?

Every smoke detector comes with a test button. We recommend that people test their detectors regularly, at least once a month.

Should I use real smoke to test my detectors?

This is not recommended because the burning objects used to create the smoke might cause a fire. Some stores sell pressurized cans of simulated smoke for this purpose. When using this product, follow the operating instructions and do not get the can too close to the detector. This prevents the smoke from coating the detector's sensing chamber, which can make the detector inoperable.

How important is it to clean my detectors?

Cleaning is easy. Just vacuum the detector once a month. This will keep the openings to the sensing chamber free of dust and residue from cooking vapors and insects.

What about changing batteries?

Smoke detector batteries should last at least one year under normal conditions. The biggest reason that smoke detectors don't work is because people remove the batteries, e.g., to stop the low battery signal or a nuisance alarm, and forget to replace them. When a battery reaches the end of its service life, the detector will give a short beep every minute or so. It is easy to remove the battery and then forget to replace it. The best way to prevent this is to replace batteries at the same time each year before the low battery signal begins. The Huntington Beach Fire Department suggests replacing smoke detector batteries when re-setting clocks for the fall time change.

For information about Fire Department education programs, please see Safety Education.
What to do After a Fire
Because danger and injury are still possibilities after a fire it is important to keep the following information and safety standards in mind:

  • Check your home, especially roofs and chimneys, for structural damage. The initial check should be made from a distance.
  • Do not enter a fire-damaged building unless authorities say it is okay. If you are cleared to enter, wear sturdy shoes and long pants and look for signs of heat or smoke.
  • If the building is deemed unsafe to enter, ask local police to watch the property during your absence.
  • Notify all your contacts of your whereabouts.
  • Have an electrician check your household wiring before the current is turned back on.
  • Do not attempt to reconnect any utilities yourself. Leave this to the proper authorities.
  • Discard food, beverages, and medicines that have been exposed to heat, smoke, or soot.
  • Refrigerators and freezers left closed hold their temperature for a short time; however, do not attempt to refreeze food that has thawed.
  • If you have a safe or strong box, do not try to open it. It can hold intense heat for several hours. If the door is opened before the box has cooled, the entering air combined with the high internal temperature can cause the contents to burst into flames.
  • Contact your local disaster relief service, such as the American Red Cross or Salvation Army, if you need housing, food, or personal items which were destroyed in the fire.
  • Contact your insurance agent. An adjuster will be assigned to visit your home.
  • Take photos or videotape of the damage.
  • Separate damaged and undamaged belongings. Do not throw away any damaged goods until an official inventory has been taken. All damages are taken into consideration by your insurance company.
  • Keep detailed records of cleanup costs.
  • If you are a tenant, contact the landlord. It is the property owner's responsibility to prevent further loss or damage to the site.
For more information on what to do after a fire, call the Huntington Beach Fire Department at (714) 536-5411.