Fire investigation is the process of determining the cause and origin of a fire. This is done on an unscheduled, as-needed basis. During an Investigation, photographs are taken and any evidence that is found is collected and sent to be analyzed by the Illinois State Police Crime Lab. Interviews are conducted and witness statements are taken to help in finding the cause of the Fire. Immediately following a serious fire, investigation becomes a top priority before the physical evidence has changed or disappeared. The Huntley Fire Department has two Arson Investigators and three Fire Investigators.
Carbon monoxide (CO) is a colorless, odorless, deadly gas. Because you can't see, taste or smell it, carbon monoxide can kill you before you know it's there.
At lower levels of exposure, carbon monoxide may cause numerous health problems. Symptoms of CO poisoning may be as follows:
- Slight headache and dizziness
- Drowsiness and an euphoric feeling
- Confusion and irritability
- Death Everyone is at risk for carbon monoxide poisoning. Some individuals may be more vulnerable to poisoning though, such as unborn babies, infants, children, senior citizens and people with heart or lung problems.
Why is it so dangerous?
The great danger of carbon monoxide is its attraction to hemoglobin in the bloodstream, which normally carries life-giving oxygen to cells and tissues. As even small amounts are breathed in, carbon monoxide quickly bonds with hemoglobin in the blood, displacing the oxygen that organs need to function. When CO is present in the air, it rapidly accumulates in the blood, forming a toxic compound known as carboxy hemoglobin (COHb).
Where does it come from?
Carbon monoxide is a common by-product of combustion, present whenever fossil fuels are burned. It is produced by malfunctioning, unvented gas or oil home appliances such as furnaces, clothes dryers, ranges, ovens, water heaters, space heaters, fireplaces, charcoal grills and wood burning stoves. Automobile exhaust also contains high levels of carbon monoxide that can seep into a home if a car is left running in an attached garage. All of these sources can contribute to a CO problem in the home.
Usually, carbon monoxide is vented safely to the outside. However, insulation meant to keep indoor air warm during the winter or cool in the summer can help trap CO-polluted air in the home. Furnace heat exchangers can crack; vents and chimneys may reverse direction causing a downdraft, which traps combustion gases in the home.
How can I protect my family?
The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CSPC) recommends installing at least one carbon monoxide alarm with an audible warning signal near the sleeping area. Choose an Underwriters Laboratories Inc. (UL) listed alarm that sounds an audible warning. Look for the UL logo on the package.
In addition to installing carbon monoxide alarms as a first line of defense, residents should have a qualified professional check all fuel burning appliances, furnaces, venting and chimney systems at least once a year or as recommended by the manufacturer.
For further information contact the Huntley Fire Protection District Fire Prevention Bureau at 847-669-8284.
Per Illinois Law –
"Every dwelling unit shall be equipped with at least one approved carbon monoxide alarm in an operating condition within 15 feet of every room used for sleeping purposes".
Children aren't waterproof! Drowning is the "silent killer". There is often no cry for help and very little sounds from splashing. Teaching an infant to swim is a fun activity, but can develop a false sense of security in the parents of small children. Just because a child knows how to swim does not mean s/he can save his/her own live if alone in the water. Factors that contribute to drowning such, as clothing, fatigue, and horseplay--may not be included in swim instruction.
Typically, the most common drowning victim is a 2-year old male who is last seen in a "safe area," far from the pools edge. Children are not the only victims of drowning. Adults have also been drowning victims from many factors: fatigue, excessive use of alcohol, diving from unsafe areas and over exertion, to name a few.
Supervision is the key to preventing a child from drowning. Additional protection can be installed around your back yard swimming pool. These include:
1. Regularly check that the gate latches securely and that spring mechanisms work properly. Regularly oil the hinges and latches.
2. Don't allow children to play in the pool area. Remove all toys, tricycles - anything a child might want to get - from the vicinity.
3. Post CPR instructions and the 911 emergency number in the pool area.
4. Keep lifesaving equipment, such as a pole, life preserver and rope - in the pool area. Hang them from the fence so people won't trip on them.
5. Have a phone handy to the pool area. Do not answer the phone while your children are in the pool; use the phone only to call 911 should a problem occur.
The Huntley Fire Department urges you to follow these simple steps to help avoid medical expenses, parent misery and the loss of a loved one. For more information contact the Huntley Fire Protection District at 847-669-5066.
Do you have smoke detectors in your home? Do they work? Properly installed and maintained smoke detectors provide early warning of a fire. When there is a fire in your home, you are twice as likely to survive when you have working smoke detectors. New York state law requires smoke detectors in all residences, both new and old.
Time is crucial
When your smoke detector sounds, you have a minute or two to escape. Develop and practice a home escape plan.
Test your smoke detectors at least once a month. Push the test button or blow smoke into the detector.
Clean your detectors at least once a year. Vacuum out the dust.
Replace the battery every year. Better yet, twice a year - when you change your clocks in the spring and fall.
For minimum protection, install a smoke detector on every level of your home and in each of your bedrooms or sleeping area. Keep your smoke detectors properly maintained. Test at least once a month to make sure they work. For more information contact the Huntley Fire Protection District Fire Prevention Bureau at 847-669-8284.
More than one-third of Americans use fireplaces, wood stoves, and other fuel-fired appliances as the primary heat source in their homes. And heating fires account for 36 percent of residential home fires in rural areas every year.
Often, these fires are due to creosote buildup in chimneys and stove pipes. Proper maintenance and common sense can go a long way towards making sure your fireplace or wood stove provides cozy warmth and not an uncontrollable fire. The Huntley Fire Department strongly urges you to read over this information if you have a fireplace, wood stove or other fuel fire appliance.
- Use a fireplace screen heavy enough to stop rolling logs and big enough to cover the entire opening of the fireplace to catch flying sparks. Keep the fire in your fireplace and not on your floor! If you have a glass door, use it only in accordance with manufacturer’s recommendations and on approved fireplaces and inserts. Some glass doors need to be left open while the fire is burning. When glass doors are left open, a screen is needed.
- Clear the area around the hearth of debris, decorations and flammable materials like newspapers.
- Make sure the damper is open and check to see that the chimney is drawing the smoke up properly before starting your fire. To check the draw, first open a window a bit for ventilation. Either carefully hold a lighted match up to the flue and make sure the flame is drawn upward or light a small ball of paper in the grate, again making sure that the smoke is drawn up through the chimney. If the chimney doesn’t draw the smoke up and out, have it cleaned and inspected by a certified professional before using it.
- Burn paper only when starting a fire and only in small amounts. Be aware that holiday gift wrap often contains chemicals that give off toxic fumes when burned.
- Never use chemicals or fuels to start a fire.
- Use only dry, seasoned wood or logs in your fireplace. Avoid evergreen branches, which can flare up quickly and throw sparks, or treated wood, which contains harmful chemicals. Soft, moist wood accelerates creosote buildup.
- When building a fire, place logs at the rear of the fireplace on an adequate supporting grate.
- Keep anything that can burn well away from a fireplace.
- Make sure the fire is completely out before leaving the house or going to bed.
- Cool hot ashes in water and place them in a tightly sealed metal container outside your house.
- Stack firewood outside at least 30 feet from your home.
- Wood stoves cause over 9,000 residential fires every year.
- When buying a wood stove, look for solid construction such as plate steel or cast iron metal. Check for cracks and inspect legs, hinges, and door seals for smooth joints and seams.
- When installing your stove, carefully follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
- Your stove should sit on a code-specified or listed floor protector. The protector should extend 18 inches beyond the stove on all sides to reduce the possibility of the floor catching on fire. Use fire-resistant wall coverings like metal or brick if the stove sits near a wall.
- Follow the manufacturer’s maintenance instructions. Check your pipes and chimneys monthly for damage or obstructions and clean them annually.
- Use only seasoned wood for fuel, not green wood, artificial logs, or trash. Trash could cause the stove to overheat.
- Never use gasoline or other chemicals to start a fire. Gasoline will ignite and explode.
- Use coal (or other fuels like pellets) in the stove only if the manufacturer has approved its use. Don’t take the word of the salesman - ask to see the manufacturer’s literature.
- Be sure to keep anything that can burn at least three feet from your wood stove.
- Never leave a fire unattended. Extinguish the fire before going to bed or leaving the house.
- Creosote is a highly flammable, black, tar-like substance that forms in burning wood, sticks to chimney walls, and builds up over time. Creosote buildup can ignite into a fire that could spread to your roof. A chimney cleaning gets rid of the creosote, so have your chimney cleaned at least once a year by a certified specialist. Have it cleaned more often if you use your fireplace or wood stove a lot.
- Along with a cleaning, have your chimney inspected annually by a certified specialist. Obstructions and cracks can cause chimney and roof fires. In addition, cracks in your chimney lining could allow a fire to escape into the wood frame of your house. If you’ve had a fire in your chimney, it will probably have cracks that need to be repaired.
- Place mesh screen spark arresters at the top of your chimney.
- Keep the roof clear of leaves, pine needles and other combustible debris.
- All chimneys and vent pipes should extend at least three feet above the roof.
- Remove branches hanging above and around the chimney, flues or vents.
- Provide proper venting for all heating equipment.
- Small children should be kept away from any heating source, especially open fires.
- Older children and teens should be told how to properly use (or not use) any fireplaces or wood stoves in your home.
- Install smoke alarms on every level of your home.
- Test your smoke detectors as recommended by the manufacturer. At a minimum, test them at least once a month. Change the batteries as recommended by the manufacturer. At a minimum, change them at least once a year.
- Plan and conduct Fire Escape Drills with your family.