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Hazardous Materials Around the Home

Hazardous materials around the home are probably more common than you may think. Many of which could be very dangerous if you have a fire or that could cause a fire if they are improperly stored or used. For example:

In The Bedroom

The bedroom might be the last place you expect to fire hazardous materials, but do you have any aerosol cans of hair spray, deodorant, or other personal care products? Hair spray is highly flammable, and all aerosol cans explode if exposed to high heat. Dispose of any aerosol cans properly. Nail polish is also flammable, as are many other products that give off strong fumes. Nail polish and nail polish remover, as well as cotton balls or tissues used to apply them, burn easily if exposed to flame or high heat. The fumes given off by mothballs are flammable. Mothball containers should be sealed tightly.

In The Bathroom

Some disinfectants, such as toilet bowl cleaners, are also flammable. Drain-cleaning fluids and powders are extremely caustic and can cause severe burns on contact with the skin. Follow the instructions for use printed on the labels of these products carefully.

In the Kitchen

Cleaning products should be stored and used with care. Floor and furniture polishes, spot removers, and oven cleaners are flammable liquids that can ignite if exposed to high heat or flame. If you unsure if a product is flammable, read the label. If the listed ingredients include petroleum products or methylated spirits, treat the substance as if it could catch fire.

Flammable Gases

Flammable gases such as containers of butane (for refilling lighters) and all aerosol cans should be stored in a cool place. When filling a lighter, be sure there is no flame or heat source nearby that could ignite leaking gas. Natural gas and propane piped into your home are extremely flammable and should be used with care. If you suspect a leak, call the gas company, propane supplier, or fire department immediately. Propane cylinders for cooking or heating should always be installed or stored out of doors. Plug cylinder outlets when tanks are not connected for use.

Workshops, Basements & Hobby Area

Your workshop, basement, or hobby area is likely to contain many flammable liquids such as turpentine, mineral spirits, and other solvents; oil-based paints, stains, and varnishes; and camping stove fuels and charcoal lighter fluid. Your basement is also likely to contain a furnace and hot-water heater -- sources of heat and flame that could ignite vapors from such flammable liquids.

It is best to store all flammable liquids outside your home, in the garage or in a shed. Always store flammable liquids in approved, labeled safety containers with tight-fitting lids. Never store flammable liquids in glass jars, which can break easily. Rags soaked in oils or paint thinners will burn if exposed to flame. Dispose of such rags after use, or store them in a tightly closed metal container.

Never Store Gasoline in your Home

Treat gasoline with extreme caution, since gasoline vapors can be ignited by even a tiny spark. Store gasoline only in containers designed and approved for the purpose. Refuel gasoline powered machines in the open, well away from buildings and foliage. Never refuel hot machinery. The heat can produce explosive gasoline fumes. Never use gasoline as a substitute for charcoal lighter or cleaning solution. The results can be lethal. And never smoke near gasoline.

Hazardous Materials Outdoors

The charcoal lighter and propane commonly used for cooking outdoors are familiar hazardous materials whose use requires caution. When starting a charcoal fire, apply starter fluid only to cold charcoal briquettes. Allow the fluid to soak in for 10 minutes before lighting. Never add starter fluids to warm or flaming briquettes.

If you use an outdoor propane grill, follow the manufacturer's instructions, and never leave a hot grill unattended. Other flammable or otherwise hazardous household materials include some weed killers, pesticides, garden fungicides and fertilizers, and pool chemicals. Read and follow product instructions carefully.