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Protect Your Family by Using and Storing Flammables Safely

Flammable and combustible liquids and gases can be fire hazards because their vapors ignite easily so extra precautions are needed when using at home.

Common household items that can be a fire hazard include:

  • Aerosol cans, like air fresheners, spray paint, or hairspray
  • Alcohol (rubbing alcohol or high-proof spirits)
  • Acetone (found in nail polish remover)
  • Butane
  • Gasoline
  • Kerosene (often used in lamps and heaters)
  • Lighter fluid
  • Oil-based paints and stains
  • Paint thinner and paint remover
  • Propane
  • Methane (Natural Gas)

Do not store or use any of these flammable materials near any source of heat, sparks, or flames. Store flammable liquids in their original containers and keep them tightly capped or sealed. Do not put them into breakable glass containers.

If you spill a flammable liquid on your clothing, place the clothing outside to dry before laundering.

View of a house from the outside that is on fire with flames and lots of smoke.

Many homes have oil and gasoline stored on site, but it's crucial to store and handle these flammable materials safely to prevent fires. Keep gasoline outside your home, ideally in a garage or garden shed, but never in your basement. Do not bring gasoline indoors, not even in small amounts.

Always store gasoline in a secure, well-sealed container that's approved for such use. Make sure the container is labeled. Make sure the gasoline container is tightly closed when not being used.

Only use gasoline as a motor fuel. Gasoline should never be used as a cleaner, a solvent, a degreaser, or a charcoal lighter substitute.

Be careful with rags that are wet with oil because they can ignite without an external heat source. Store them in a secure metal container or dry them outside in a cool, shaded area, away from buildings, before disposing them. Never leave them piled up.

Before refueling anything with a motor, like a lawnmower, snow blower, or string trimmer, make sure it has cooled down before refueling. Spilling fuel on a hot motor can cause a dangerous fire.

Don't fill a portable container with gasoline while it's inside a vehicle or a truck bed. Always remove it and fill it on the ground to prevent static electricity build-up and possible ignition.

Containers of gasoline and one container of oil sitting on a shelf in a garage.

Rags are often used to clean-up after projects around the house and they do a good job wiping up messy liquids like gasoline, kerosene, paint thinners, solvents, as well as oil-based paints, stains, and varnishes. But because these are flammable liquids, the oily rags can spontaneously ignite if they are not properly managed. Oily rags can become a fire hazard because the oils used in these products generate heat as they dry. If this heat gets trapped, as it can in a pile of rags, it may build up and eventually start a fire.

Ensure there is good ventilation in areas where flammable and combustible liquids are handled, and oily rags are used. There should be no smoking in areas where oily rags are used or stored.

Store containers with oily rags in a cool, shaded area, away from direct sunlight or other heat sources. For proper disposal of these rags, check with your local waste disposal facility.

Never leave wet, oil-soaked rags in a pile. At the end of the day, move these rags outdoors to dry. When drying rags, spread them out or hang them up, and weigh them down so they don't blow away. Make sure they're not piled up and are kept away from buildings. Once the rags are dry, place them in a tightly-sealed metal container filled with a water and detergent solution to neutralize the oils.

A pile of old, used rags that might be dirty or oily.

Propane is a common energy source for heating homes and running appliances, but because it is flammable it's essential to handle propane tanks safely.

If you smell gas or suspect a gas leak, immediately evacuate everyone from the area. If there is any reason to believe there might be a gas leak do not smoke or have any open flames. Do not operate lights, appliances, home phones, or cell phones because sparks from these can trigger an explosion or a fire if there is a gas leak. If it's safe, shut off the gas at the tank by turning the main supply valve to the right (clockwise).

Report the suspected leak to your propane supplier as soon as you're in a safe location, and if you can't reach them then dial 9-1-1. Do not return to the area until it's been declared safe by a propane professional or an emergency responder.

If a pilot light frequently goes out or is hard to light, don't try to fix it yourself. Call a professional to relight it and inspect for potential safety issues.

Ensure the vents of your appliances are clear so gases can escape outdoors, and that the area around your appliances is clean for proper air circulation and combustion.

A large propane tank that you might use to fuel a home heating system.

Home medical oxygen therapy is often prescribed for various health conditions, and while oxygen itself isn't flammable, it intensifies combustion, meaning things burn faster and hotter in its presence. Always review and adhere to the instructions and safety precautions given by your oxygen supplier. Reach out to them if you have any questions.

Never smoke or allow others to smoke where medical oxygen is used or stored. Oxygen can cause materials to ignite more quickly and can intensify an existing fire. Display "No Smoking" and "No Open Flames" signs both inside and outside the home as a reminder to all occupants and guests. Install smoke detectors throughout the home and have a fire extinguisher easily accessible.

Always turn off the oxygen supply when not in use by turning the supply valve to the off position. Store oxygen cylinders at least 5-10 feet away from heat sources, open flames, sparks, or electrical devices.

Don't use candles or any oil or grease-based products, like lotions or hair products, around medical oxygen. They can ignite easily and burn rapidly. Avoid using aerosol sprays containing flammable substances near oxygen.

A man relaxing on a bed at home while breathing in medical oxygen from a small compressed gas cylinder.

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