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Ask the Patch Pro: Experts Answer Your Fire Safety, Prevention Questions

Our panel of experts are waiting in the comments to answer your questions about fire safety in the latest installment of Ask the Patch Pro.

It's time for another edition of Ask the Patch Pro, where each week we tackle a different topic and open up the comments section for questions. Our team of experts stop in to help you out and answer your questions.

This week we're talking about fire safety. What regulations should you follow if you're having a bonfire? How often should you change or check your smoke detectors? What basic fire safety tips should your children know and when? 

Patch wants to help you get your questions answered, but we needed some help.

We've compiled a team of experts to help us out. Meet the experts:

If you consider yourself a local expert and would like to be added to the list, let us know! jordan.lanham@patch.com

Heidi L. October 11, 2012 at 05:28 PM
How often should I have my fireplace chimney cleaned?
Jason Bright October 11, 2012 at 05:38 PM
Elena Sabin - I witnessed a fire while in college and the Red Cross came with blankets and other necessities for the victims. This is a great program that I don't think everyone knows about. Is there a way to donate specifically to this program?
Tamara Duncan October 11, 2012 at 06:20 PM
What would you say are the five most important items a family should have in the home -- let's say smoke detectors are a given -- for either prevention or for dealing with a fire emergency?
Jordan Lanham October 11, 2012 at 06:21 PM
What are the most common causes of house fires this time of year and what are some tips to stay safe?
Elena Sabin October 11, 2012 at 06:43 PM
You should have your chimney cleaned and inspected once a year, and this is perfect timing as the cooler temps are just begging for a toasty fire (in a well cleaned fireplace with a screen.)
Elena Sabin October 11, 2012 at 06:49 PM
You're talking about our Disaster Action Team volunteers. They are amazing! They are on-call 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, even on holidays. Those volunteers help families impacted by a fire make sure their immediate needs are met. Do they have clothes, a place to stay? Sometime they may just need a hug, and our volunteer are there to provide that, too. We are also there to support the firefighters and other first responders with cookies and a warm or cool drink. To learn more about that or other Red Cross programs, you can visit redcrossstl.org.
Steve Brown October 11, 2012 at 06:58 PM
Tamara, you are correct working smoke detectors are probably the most important followed by a home escape plan, small ABC rated fire extinguisher, your home properly marked with your address number and having your wood burning fire place/stove inspected prior to it's first use each year.
Steve Brown October 11, 2012 at 07:00 PM
The most common cause of home fires is unattended cooking fires in the kitchen. With our busy multi-tasking life styles it is very easy to forget a pan on the stove while cooking.
Elena Sabin October 11, 2012 at 07:02 PM
The most important things I can think of aren't actually things- they're part of a plan. 1. Make sure you know where the exits are in all of the rooms of your home (there should be two) 2. Have a meeting place where everyone in the family goes if there is a fire (mine is my neighbor's front yard) 3. Make sure little ones know never to play with matches or lighters. 4. Make sure the escape routes are clear 5. Then definitely have a fire extinguisher that you know how to use
Kalen Ponche October 11, 2012 at 07:05 PM
What's the best way to put out a pan fire? Put the lid on it? I feel like I heard that pouring water on hot oil is a bad idea. Also- how dangerous are deep fat turkey fryers? The turkeys are SOOOOOO good, but my husband says we'll burn our house down. I'd imagine you shouldn't use one on a wooden deck, but how about on the driveway, away from the house?
Elena Sabin October 11, 2012 at 07:27 PM
You're right, water is a bad idea! Put a lid on the pan and turn off the heat. As far as turkey fryers go, they can be very dangerous. A quick youtube search will show you how much damage can be done. If you really want to fry a turkey, make sure you turkey is completely thawed and dried (see the previous question about hot oil and water), that you are on a level surface like a drive way and that you are far away from your house or garage or anything flammable.
Jordan Lanham October 11, 2012 at 08:18 PM
When I was younger, a close friend's house caught on fire. My family and a few others in the neighborhood brought over clothes, blankets, etc. I know sometimes schools will host collections and encourage gift card donations. Are there any other organizations that do these collections year round? Do the fire departments ever collect/distribute these items as well?
Kelley D October 12, 2012 at 04:42 AM
Is there a recommended type or brand of smoke detector?
Dennis October 12, 2012 at 04:58 AM
I have fire extinguishers on my upper level two on the main level and one in the basement two in my detached garage/shop and one in my garden shed. My garden shed isn't heated or cooled will the extreme heat and cold affect the fire extingushers in my garden shed? Also can my local fire departmet test my fire extinguishers? Oh yes the extingusihers are about 3 years old and the gauges read good. I also have electrical somke detectors with carbon dioxide dection, they also have battery back up.
Steve Brown October 12, 2012 at 12:34 PM
The Red Cross provides disaster assistance to any family suffering a loss due to fire or other natural disaster. Locally, the St. Peters Wesleyan Church also provides assistance to those in our community after a fire.
Steve Brown October 12, 2012 at 12:37 PM
Any smoke detector that is UL approved is recommended. It is best to have a detector that is hard wired into your electrical system with a battery backup in case the power goes off.
Steve Brown October 12, 2012 at 12:41 PM
An ABC rated fire extinguisher has very little to no moisture inside of it so it is not susceptible to the extreme heat or cold. You should check to make sure the gauge on the extinguisher read in the good range and every once in a while take the extinguisher off of the wall and turn it upside down a couple of time to make sure the powder is loose and ready to go. I do not know of any fire departments in the metro area that service or inspect fire extinguishers. You can look in the Yellow Pages or on-line for a local company to perform the service.
Elena Sabin October 12, 2012 at 01:44 PM
Jordan, If people have items they wish to donate, you can always call United Way's 2-1-1 and they can help you figure out where those items can go.

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