Hazardous Materials Fire SafetyBack to Safety Tips Page
What Are Household Hazardous Materials?
When most of us think of “hazardous materials,” we picture trucks full of chemicals, factories, or dumps oozing slime. However, every home can be a warehouse of hazardous materials, containing items such as:
- Automotive fluids
- Barbecue products
- Health and beauty products
- Home maintenance products
- Household cleaners
- Laundry products
- Lawn and garden products
- Medicines and medical supplies
- Paints and thinners
In addition, asbestos or lead paint present in older homes, and mercury in compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs), may become exposed during or after a home fire.
How Can I Make My Home Safer?
Home hazardous materials can pose serious fire, health, or environmental hazards. For these reasons, proper use, storage and disposal of hazardous materials at home is extremely important.
- Buy only the amount of product that you need to reduce the quantity of hazardous materials in storage.
- Familiarize yourself with each product, its location, and purpose.
- Follow use and storage instructions on the product’s label. Mixing some products can create deadly poisonous fumes or cause fires.
- Store hazardous materials in their original containers. Changing containers is not only dangerous – it is illegal.
- Use only portable storage containers listed by an independent testing laboratory for flammables and combustibles.
- Store flammable products – such as gasoline, kerosene, propane gas, and paint thinner – away from the home.
- Only fill portable gasoline containers outdoors in a well-ventilated area. Place the container on the ground to fill.
- Never store flammables in direct sunlight or near an open flame or heat source.
- Inspect storage areas regularly for leaky containers, poor ventilation, and the smell of fumes.
- Store hazardous materials out of the reach of children and pets.
- Use guardrails and safety locks on shelves and cabinets to prevent containers from tipping over or falling out, especially if you live in an earthquake-prone area.
- Wear suitable protective clothing including gloves and eyewear as recommended by the product manufacturer.
Follow disposal instructions on the product’s label.