Fire Administration / Emergency Management Safety Recommendations

Below is important safety reminders and recommendations. Please take time to look over This pertinent information. The fire department is happy to answer questions, do assessments and/or make recommendations with your safety in mind. If anyone would like to discuss any safety issue, please leave your contact information with the front desk at town hall and a representee will contact you for an appointment. 

1) Weather Reminders:
We are enjoying a moderate fall so far however cold weather, and the associated challenges are just around the corner. As we have seen, Oklahoma can have challenging and sudden Winter storms. The good news is that we can be proactive and do things that will keep our families safe and comfortable. This includes having a backup generator to use when the power goes out (more on that later in the report). We should also have a “go bag” with important documents and an emergency communication plan in place (preferably with an out-of-state contact). Included in the “go bag” should be important documents, necessary medications, extra glasses, insurance papers, some cash, important phone numbers, flashlights, and other essential items.

 2) Generator Safety:
Having a backup generator is a great idea in Oklahoma, however, please observe the manufacturer’s safety information especially regarding dangerous CO fumes. We had a couple of calls during a power outage related to accumulated fumes from generators. One Forest Park family is fortunate to be alive because when I checked the CO level in their home, I monitored 100 parts per million (PPM), enough to cause serious illness after a few hours. Later when ONG came out to do a follow up, they found 500 PPM, enough to cause death in a relatively short amount of time! Please keep generators a safe distance away and upwind from your house (see attached).

 3) Wildfire Potential:
The Oklahoma Forestry Service says that we could start seeing more fires as vegetation becomes dormant. The upcoming freezing conditions just around the corner will push plants and trees into dormancy, which makes for perfect kindling. “Grasses, leaf litter, dead and dying timber, standing timber - all that stuff is considered fuel," said Drew Daily with the Oklahoma Forestry Service. Daily says our wildfire risk is now dependent on the weather. Warmer, dry, and windy days can be very dangerous.

 So, the question is: Could we have dangerous wildfires in the next few months in Oklahoma? The answer is yes. The fire department will be happy to do a wildfire safety assessment for you at your request. As you may remember in one recent year over 300,000 acres burned in northwest Oklahoma and in the “Rhea” fire alone 245,000 acres burned. Why haven’t we had more property loss and/or fatalities? This is largely only due to the lack of population density in the affected areas. We have been very fortunate that those fires affected less populated areas.  Forest Park is more densely populated, is subject to these destructive fires and has been threatened by large fast-moving fires. We have dodged the preverbal bullet a couple of times but there is a clear and present danger of a devastating fire in our community due to the abundance of vegetation in proximity to homes, please be proactive! Keep grass cut, keep trees and vegetation away from your home (create a 50/100 foot clear area), gutters cleaned out, and don’t stack wood against your house! If you are asked to evacuate, please do so!

4) Chimney Safety:
Have your chimney cleaned! According to recent statistics there are an average of 25,000 chimney fires per year causing 125 million dollars in damage.  Annual inspections are very important, problems can be addressed before they become tragedies, please have your chimney inspected by a professional annually.

Portable or permanently installed standby generators can come in handy during long-term power outages. However, if you do not know how to use them properly, they can be dangerous. Contact a qualified vendor or electrician to help you determine what generator is best suited to your needs. Before using, read and follow manufacturer’s instructions.

If you are installing a permanent generator, it must have a transfer switch. The transfer switch prevents energy from leaving your generator and going back onto the utility electrical equipment, when it could be dangerous to a lineman or others near downed power lines, a process known as “back feed.” A qualified electrician should install your generator and transfer switch.

Please note the following tips for safe portable generators usage:

  • Operate it outdoors in an area with plenty of ventilation. Never run a generator in a home or garage. Generators give off deadly carbon monoxide.
  • Do not plug a generator into the wall to avoid back feed. Use heavy-duty extension cords to connect appliances to the outlets on the generator.
  • Turn the generator on before plugging appliances into it. Once the generator is running, turn your appliances and lights on one at a time to avoid overloading the unit. Remember, generators are for temporary usage; prioritize your needs.
  • Generators pose electrical risks, especially when operated in wet conditions. Use a generator only, when necessary, when the weather creates wet or moist conditions. Protect the generator by operating it under an open, canopy-like structure on a dry surface where water cannot form puddles or drain under it. Always ensure your hands are dry before touching the generator.
  • Be sure the generator is turned off and cool before fueling it.
  • Keep children and pets away from portable generators. Many generator components are hot enough to burn you during operation.
  • How far away from the house does a generator need to be? 30 feet (minimum). Always place the generator at least 30 feet from the house with the engine exhaust directed away from windows and doors. If you suspect carbon monoxide poisoning (headache, nausea, confusion, or flu like systems) CALL 911 immediately!

Wesley “Chuck” Blair 
Fire Administration / Emergency Management