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Make fire safety a priority year-round. U.S. Air Force graphic by Susan Scheuer

Make fire safety a priority year-round. U.S. Air Force graphic by Susan Scheuer

PATRICK AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- Summer is traditionally a popular season to work on do-it-yourself projects, from everything to home improvements to online self-assembled crafts.

While people are eager to get started, the most important aspect of any project isn't making a supply list, or finding the best deal; it's safety first.

"Anytime directions or instructions are involved, precautionary measures should be taken," said Tech. Sgt. Philip Cook Jr., 45th Civil Engineer Squadron Fire Prevention NCO in charge. "When using any type of chemical or flammable substance, manufacturer use and disposal instructions must be followed exactly as listed on the product."

For example, when using Tung oil, personnel must immediately clean brushes and clothes or store them in a sealed metal container filled with water.

"If personnel use a flammable substance for more than one day, the product must be stored in a flammable storage locker that has been permitted and approved by the 45th CES Fire Prevention Office," Cook said.

The Patrick Air Force Base Fire Department wants people to enjoy getting creative, but safety must always be kept in mind.

"Some may live their lives under the assumption that spontaneous combustion only happens in Hollywood movies, and that, as long as we don't leave the stoves on and clean out our dryer vents, we are safe from fire," Cook said.

Contrary to the assumption, fires involving spontaneous combustion do happen in real life. Fires caused by spontaneous combustion or chemical reaction accounted for an estimated 14,070 fires per year between 2005 and 2009, according to the National Fire Protection Association.

The fact may seem arbitrary to some, but last month the statistic became a reality here when an individual who may have not inadvertently taken the necessary steps to ensure safety.

Fortunately, base personnel acted quickly by calling the 45th CES Fire Department who responded to the scene and extinguished a fire, removed the contents from the facility and ventilated the smoke.

In efforts to prevent fires and keep Team Patrick-Cape safe, the 45th CES Fire Department offers the following additional fire safety tips:

1. If an emergency arises, call 9-1-1 immediately and evacuate the premises.
2. Properly store combustibles and keep the exterior of your home neat and orderly.
3. Keep your home clean and organized should the fire department need to enter the premises in an emergency response so they can enter safely and quickly.
4. Learn how to use a fire extinguisher. Those who would like to learn can contact the 45th CES fire department for proper instructional use.
5. Parents should discuss a home escape plan with their children and practice often.

For more information visit nfpa.org, cdf.gov, or call the 45th CES fire prevention office at (321) 494-7642.