3/30/2015 (updated 9/18/2016)



Note of caution - These posts are for the most part not from experts.  If you have any doubts about anything here, please consult an expert.

General links re Emergency First Aid -

Fire safety web links -
[work in progress]
Links at


From: Sue Berger Alsus131@a..
Date: Wed
Mar 23, 2005 3:08pm
Subject: [TeaneckShuls] posting of responses to fire safety/update

Folks: I've been flooded with requests for information on the resources i have used and have recieved several responses as well that i have reprinted in the body of the text below. The following is the info i collected....

Vent Cleaning: allmake appliance referred me to Advent vent cleaning 201-945-8784

Fire Escape Ladder: i simply did a search on google. i used . home depot may have this item as well.
However, someone responded to me with this: re: ladders-- "an article in "Consumers Reports" some years ago where they tested emergency fire ladders that you hang from windows-- As I recall, the results unfortunately showed that the majority of such ladders were useless. As I recall, the problem is that the "standoffs" (that keep the rungs away from the wall) are typically spaced every 2 or 3 rungs. This means that the remaining rungs are pushed against the outside of the wall and you cannot put your foot on them. And most people cannot use a ladder with many unuseable rungs. The few ladders that had standoffs on each rung were too bulky for most people to store."
I've already ordered my ladder. Once I receive it i will see how well it works. if i'm not happy i'll return it. Also, i will of course show my family how the ladder works and have a drill.

You can use any qualified electrician. Make sure you electric is updated - including your "panel". If you have a Federal Pacific panel - get it replaced as soon as possible - those are prone to fires. You could contact your town electrical inspector for advise as to how you could insptect your wiring for defects.

Also, check the venting on the dryer, it should be metal instead of plastic. More important than a ladder is a plan. Finally, and this seems obvious, but have smoke and carbon monoxide detectors on each floor. Wiring that is over 50 years old needs to be inspected. Splitting of circuits is advisable if the current usage is near the limit of the circuit breaker or fuse. (e.g. if the circuit breaker is 15 amp and you are contantly using 12 amps, a new circuit is warranted and should be a 20 amp circuit).
That's it for now. thank you all for your inquiries and suggestions. stay safe.


From: Sol R. solr_07666@y..
Subj: Electrical safety Issues

Electrical Safety Issues.
Most home owners have no understanding of Electricity or Electrical Safety. With a little time spent reading the following material and acting on the information you can PREVENT and AVOID serious injury and damage from fires started by unsafe Electrical conditions.

Home Electricity 101

Breaker Panels
The Breaker or Service Entrance Panel is the box in your basement or garage that contains the circuit breakers that shut off power in the event of an overloaded circuit.

All the outlets and switches and lamps in your house are connected to multiple circuits that terminate in the Service Entrance Panel. A few things may be hard wired directly to the Panel, such as Electric Stoves and Ovens, Central Air Conditioning, Electrical Heating, Oil and Gas heating systems, saunas, hot-tubs, whirlpools, and anything else that is electrical but you don't plug into an outlet.

Old Breaker Panels
If you have a Federal Pacific Breaker Panel you must replace it immediately! These panels and their breakers are notoriously unreliable and are old. You can easily recognize this type of panel, because the breaker tips are RED. You should have any other Breaker Panel thats more than 40 years old replaced as well. Replacing a Service Entrance Panel costs about $1000, and can be done in one day by a Licensed Electrician. Do not allow a handyman to do this job! At the same time you can upgrade the amount of current supplying your house to todays recommended 200AMPS. This is all done at the same time, except that PSEG has to come and drop a new line from the Utility Pole to your house.

Upgrading Circuit Breakers
In the last few years a new type of circuit breaker has been introduced and is required in all new bedroom construction. This breaker is called an Arc Fault Circuit Interrupter (AFCI) and detects erratic current flow, such as is presented when arcing (sparking) occurs. Homes with older wiring can benefit from upgrading existing breakers to an AFCI. A more detailed discussion is available on the US Consumer Product Safety Commission web site or by downloading a document on AFCI.

Overloaded circuits allow heat to build up in the wires and anything attached to them to the point of igniting surrounding flammable materials. The breakers protect the wiring preventing them from heating up by opening or breaking the circuit when the current flowing through them exceeds the rating of the Breaker. Most breakers in your panel are rated 15 or 20 Amps are marked as such on the breaker itself.

Other breakers, such as for Electric Stove, Electric Drier, and Central Air are usually in the 30 70 AMP range. The Main Breaker that shuts off all power to your house will be in the 100-200 AMP range. Thus, if your breakers fail to trip, you will have a fire! You need to have your breakers tested for proper operation.

However, it's still possible to have a fire created by other conditions.

An appliance or lighting circuit usually has multiple outlets and lighting fixtures controlled by switches. All residential circuits are protected by either 15 or 20 AMP breakers, depending on the thickness of the wire in the circuit. These circuits are safe to be continuously loaded to 80% of their rated capacity.

As long as the total simultaneous load on the circuit ( add up the current draw of every device attached to the circuit) does not exceed its rated capacity, the breaker will not trip.

Determining Load
How do I determine the load created by a particular device?
Every electrical device that you plug in to an outlet has a Rating Label with the UL seal from Underwrites Laboratory. This label tells you the require voltage and current load required by the device. The label is usually found on the outside of the device, but in some cases is on the inside, such as appliances like Refrigerators, Freezers, Washing Machines. Electronics such as computers, tvs, stereos, etc., usually have these labels on the outside back or bottom of the device.

The rating may be listed in several formats. The Voltage required is listed first, then the Current load, then the Frequency of the AC supply. The number with the letter A after it is the number you are looking for.
115 V ~ 3A 60hz The load here is 3 AMPS
110-240V ~ 1.8A 50-60Hz The load here is 1.8 AMPS

Vacuum cleaners, hair dryers, toasters, microwaves, portable heaters, window air conditioners are all high load devices and typically draw at least 10 AMPS.

If you have old outlets and loose connections anywhere along the same circuit from the Panel to a particular outlet, you will have a significant increase in heating of the outlet and the connections along the way under such heavy continuous loads. This heating can and does cause fires, without actually creating an overload condition that will trip the breaker!

If you have breakers that trip frequently, you have too much stuff on the same circuit, and the circuit must be split. That means you have to run a new circuit from the Panel to supply some of the outlets that were on the old circuit. The only alternative is to not use some of the device at the same time on this circuit.

Problem: You plug in your hair dryer and the breaker trips. At the same time, someone was using the vacuum.
Solution: don't use both of these devices at the same time, or, have a licensed electrician split the circuits to give you more capacity in this part of the house.

Things to Check
Things to check for that are easy

1. If your outlets do not have 3 pins, they are most likely more than 40 years old, are worn out and should be replaced.
2. Check for outlets that do not hold plugs tightly. It should require some effort to push and pull a plug out of a good outlet. It the plug is loose in the outlet, it can overheat and lead to fire. This is particularly true of vacuum cleaners.
3. Replace any missing or broken wall plates.
4. Make sure there are safety covers on all unused outlets that are accessible to children.

Appliance and Lamp Cords
1. Make sure cords are in good conditionnot frayed, cracked or dried out.
2. Make sure they are placed out of traffic areas.
3. Cords should never be nailed or stapled to the wall, baseboard or to another object.
4. Do not place cords under carpets or rugs or rest any furniture on them.
5. Check the rating of the cord. Each cord comes with a label defining the maximum load is can supply.

Extension Cords
1. Check to see that cords are not overloaded. Check the current rating of the cord before you plug in any high load device.
2. Do not use zip cord (flat brown, white or black plastic extension) with vaccum cleaners, hair dryers, toasters, heating plates, laundry irons, portable heaters. You must use an extension rated at 15 AMPs for these devices.
3. Additionally, extension cords should only be used on a temporary basis; they are not intended as permanent household wiring.
4. Make sure extension cords have safety closures to help prevent young children from shock hazards and mouth burn injuries.

1. Make sure your plugs fit your outlets.
2. Never remove the ground pin (the third prong) to make a three-prong fit a two-conductor outlet; this could lead to an electrical shock.
3. Don't use 2 pin - 3 pin adapters which defeat the purpose of the ground pin. Have the outlet replaced!
5. Plugs should fit securely into outlets.
6. Do not use inexpensive rubber molded multiple outlet adapters. Always look for the current rating on the adapter.
7. Avoid overloading outlets with too many appliances.

More Info
For more information check the following links

Electrical Safety Foundation International
Home Electrical Safety Tips
Home Safety FAQ

US Consumer Product Safety Commission / Electrical Safety

For Teaching Kids about Electrical Saftey
A Fun tutorial for kids and parents on Electrical Safety.
When they complete all the sections you can print the following certificate!
Things not to do!


From: Caleb davenlater@o..
Date: Thu,
24 Mar 2005 07:38:55
To: crshulman@a..

.... According to a fire inspector I spoke with, using a stove cover (a Blech) to cover a flame reduces the amount of oxygen the flame needs to burn properly and when that happens, it produces carbon monoxide. It is therefore especially important to install Carbon Monoxide detectors in a house with a Shabbos blech covering the flames on a stove.
The fire inspector mentioned that people who use a belch and also recently installed siding with Tyvek Home Wrap (insulation) are even more susceptible because the new insulation does a great job of sealing your home from drafts--sealing your house of fresh air--that would otherwise helped to reduce Carbon Monoxide levels.

Carbon Monoxide (known as "CO") is Produced by INCOMPLETE BURNING of Fossil Fuels. Fossil Fuels include Wood, Charcoal, Coal, Oil and Gases such as Natural Gas, Butane, and Propane.
The entire household is at risk for Carbon Monoxide poisoning when the CO level gets to high. Those with respiratory problems, the elderly, children, and pregnant women are more susceptible to nervous system damage or worse from inhaling small amounts of Carbon Monoxide over long periods of time or large amounts of Carbon Monoxide over short periods of time.
If you detect a problem, immediately open as many windows as possible, call the fire department and get out of the house. The Fire Department can come over with CO meters and determine what is causing the problem.
The best detector that a homeowner can buy are units that come with a display that will register the parts per million of CO. One such model is The Nighthawk which features both a display and a test button along with a "peak level" indicator showing the highest detected level of CO.
These units are sold at Home Depot and are very easy to install as you simply plug the device directly into an electrical outlet. Also, most alarm companies now install these devices incorporated into the alarm system. If you detect CO on the display, it's time to check the chimney, hot water heater and furnace vents. You cannot smell carbon monoxide in a home that is why you need a detector.

One note of caution, these units are extremely LOUD! So if you install it in a kitchen near a blech, and if what I am told is true, the detector will sound over Shabbos. Do a test during the week before you use it for the first time on Shabbos.


From: Sue Alsus131@a.. ...
Date: Thu,
24 Mar 2005

the following point is from ellen ...
 i've gotten many different responses on this issue. sue
When my electrician rewired my whole house which dates to 1926, he said unless people start updating their wiring, there will be a lot of fires... Most of our older homes have the old fashioned insulation on the wire which is a cloth insulation. If that begins to fray and a spark from the wire ignites it, it will create a massive fire in the wall. In the process of construction all our walls were ripped open after we discovered this exact problem in our walls. We noticed a wall was hot after we smelled smoke, but we didn't see the smoke. we ended up kicking a plug out of an outlet on Shabbos. When the electrician followed up that Monday he showed us the the charred cloth insulation...we were on our way to a fire but b/c we noticed it we were able to stop it.
Another point, we installed the fire code fire and carbon dioxide detectors. The fire detectors are linked one to the other. If a fire starts on one floor all the detectors go off so you can get out.


From: Asher Forst bsui@b...
March 23, 2005
Subject: Re: Posting Responses to Fire Safety/Update

I noticed your e-mail before and this one and would like to add some things to your information. As a member of the Englewood Volunteer Ambulance Corps, I have witnessed many problems in people's homes and the lack of knowledge people have regarding fire prevention and safety should a fire happen.

1. I believe that it would be in the best interests of all your synagogues and organizations to contact your local fire department and EMS and have a meeting in your shul or wherever your organization meets to advise you on what you should look for in your homes that could be problematic and how to handle certain emergencies that do arise and be or be prepared for them. I have helped many of these for organizations as well as taught CPR and First Aid and I find that many people never knew about certain problems that they have in their homes and never thought about keeping certain emergency equipment in their homes should a particular emergency occur.

2. It should be a standard message in all shuls and bulletins that people should check their smoke alarms and CO Alarms, replace batteries regularly, and to make sure that they are in areas where smoke is most likely to start.

3. While having a ladder may be helpful, if it can't be put outside your window fast enough or properly fitted so that it doesn't fall, it will be useless. And if a person can't crawl out their window easily without falling it will still be useless. Remember that most people that die in fires are quickly overcome by smoke and pass out. There usually isn't time to get a ladder out a window properly and get everyone out in time.

4. Many times the lights are out and cannot be turned on due to loss of electricity due to the fire. In order to find your way out people need to keep flashlights with charged batteries within easy reach at all times.

5. Most of the homes I have been in do not have any fire extinguishers and if they have any, it may be too small or not the proper rating for the type of fire.

6. If you want to keep good equipment in your house in case of fire, you should look into the helmets that have filters so that your eyes are smoke free and you can breathe properly in order to get out. Each person on the house should have one by there bed. I am attaching a web site that shows this device and you should be able to find a company in the area that can get them for you.

7. One of the last things I would like you to see is the following web site on Fire Safety which answers many questions and I'm sure most of the people in your shul and organizations don't know what they should. . It should be stressed to everyone to look at this site, especially the fire safety tab, read the information and understand it and implement it in their homes ... The first line of safety is prevention.

This is just the tip of what every family should be doing to protect themselves and loved ones from the dangers of fire and other harmful problems. If you have any questions about this or would like to discuss how to get classes and meetings setup with the proper people in order to teach your community how to prevent tragedies such as the one that just occurred, you can e-mail me at . I hope that people will take their and their families safety much more seriously then they have in the past and that the future will prove to never have to endure another tragedy ...

From: Asher Forst bsui@b..
one other thing.....people should stop adding so many power strips to one outlet and adding so many appliances to those power strips on one outlet.  People should use other outlets, not overload them and turn off what they are not using, computers, tv's, space heaters, fans, etc...especially when not home.....I always unplug things i'm not using. If they don't know how much they can put on one outlet or if they need more outlets they should call an electrician and they can tell how much one outlet should have and how much the main circuit can take from all outlets on it.  As much as an electrician might charge to make the outlets safer for use, it is better then the alternative. ...


From: Shmuel Herman <shmuelherman@y..>
One most important subject is some homes have double sided dead bolts on there door. This is against fire code, if there is a fire you should be able to escape not look for a key. for more info go to fire safety at


From: Arijacobson@a..
My vision is for a defined list of safety measures that people should do, e.g.:
- fire extinguisher in kitchen and basement
- 2x yearly checks of smoke detectors
- an unrolling window ladder on the 2nd floor
- shabbas candles that burn only 3 hours, not 6, so they'll be out before people go to sleep
A sticker for people to place in their front window declaring that they do these steps. Let this sticker be as basic as a mezzuza on the front door.


From: Alan Sohn [alansohn@w..]
Sent: March 24, 2005
To: TeaneckInfo@Y..
Subject: Record 3/24: Preventing Electrical Fires
Today's Record included an article addressing practical measures that homeowners can take to prevent electrical fires. See  for the complete article at web site (registration required).

Homeowners can act to prevent electrical fires
* * *
Electrical safety tips
Experts say people can protect their homes in several ways:
# Have older homes inspected yearly by a qualified inspector or electrician, and fix problems immediately.
# Don't overload electrical circuits by plugging in too many appliances.
# Avoid attaching a two-prong adapter to a three-prong plug, and inserting it into an outlet that's not grounded.
# Watch for loose, unattached wires hanging from the ceiling or suspended from the walls. Such wires indicate shoddy workmanship.
# Conduct self-tests, such as resetting circuit breakers, to make sure they'll function properly.
# Install "firestops," or wooden beams or platform frames, inside balloon-frame walls to impede the progress of a fire.
# Ensure access to fire escapes through a window.
# Know your electrical circuit. Know which outlets and products are connected to each circuit.
# Immediately disconnect any electrical product if problems develop and have it examined by a competent professional.
# Follow manufacturer's instructions on what types of electrical connections are needed for all electrical appliances.


From: Alan Sohn [mailto:alansohn@w..
Sent: Sunday, March 27, 2005 1
Subject: Electrical Hazards and How to Correct Them

Electrical Hazards and How to Correct Them

1. Extension cords are typically smaller than the amperage rating of the permanent wiring that they extend. This can cause the wire to heat up long before the fuse blows or circuit breaker is tripped. Extension cords should not be put below carpeting, because they could be damaged by the staples, etc. This feel of "permanence" could create an atmosphere where it could be used for appliances that will overload the wire. Extension cords should not be installed through floors or walls because of their vulnerability to damage.

2. Wire splices should only be installed in prescribed boxes and mechanically secured. Exposed splices may become loose and cause arcing and excessive heat and deterioration.

3. Service entrance cables with deteriorated outer coverings will allow water to enter and may follow the cables into the meter socket and possibly into the main panel box. This will cause corrosion. It may also cause circuit breakers to freeze in the "closed" or "on" position. This is a significant fire hazard. The service entrance cable should be replaced when the outer covering is deteriorated.

4. Broken or loose switches and outlets should be replaced because their dependability is suspect and the occupants may be exposed to shock. Breaking or cutting off of the ground prong of a three-prong plug may not affect the operation of the appliance. However, it does compromise the safety of the user.

5. Dimmer switches should be checked for excessive heat. The rating of the dimmer should always be higher than the total wattage of the bulbs it serves. Dimmers with ratings 50 percent to 100 percent above the total bulb wattage are desirable.

6. Light fixtures and related shades and covers can deteriorate quickly if the bulbs used in the fixture are larger than the fixture rating. Fires can result.

7. Circuit breakers that will not trip or are "buzzing" are a problem. It may be related to moisture, corrosion, or inexpensive or incompatible equipment, but it must be corrected as soon as possible.

8. Electrical equipment, wiring, panels and fixtures should never be installed in areas with excessive relative humidity unless the equipment is designed for this use. These situations are a significant safety hazard and should be addressed as soon as possible.

9. Incandescent lighting close to clothes or other combustibles in closets may create a fire hazard. Bulbs should have covers and should be a minimum of 12" from combustible material.

10. Fuses and circuit breakers only purpose is to protect the wire they are attached to by keeping it from overheating. Oversized fuses or circuit breakers do not enhance the electric circuitry or the equipment they serve.  Fourteen-gauge wire is rated for 15 amps. Use no more than a 15-amp circuit breaker or fuse. Twelve-gauge wire is rated 20 amps. Ten-gauge wire is rated 30 amps. Some people may be under the impression that the larger fuse/circuit breaker will allow that line to hold more. The integrity of the wire is compromised from overheating.

A slight overload in an electrical circuit, a burned out refrigerator motor, a defective circuit breaker, windows blocked by air conditioners and a dresser and attic windows that were too small for fire egress are suspected to all have contributed to the deaths of the four children in a recent fire  in Teaneck, New Jersey.


From: Heather <okbenji@h.. >
Subj: Fire Safety Children's Products!!
Date: Mon, 11 Apr 2005
I found a reputable catalogue/internet site that sells several fire safety products:
1. Fire/heat proof escape blankets
2. Record the parent's voice smoke alarms (children often don't awake to the sirens, but do tend to wake up to their parents' voices)
3. Tot finder stickers for the children's windows.


From: likemyname@a..

Subject: Federal Pacific Electrical Panels

My electrician (nameless, he is NOT looking for business) asked me to post  a warning about Federal Pacific Electrical Panels. He says that they are  dangerous (the company went out of business some time ago) and should be  replaced.  Contact your own electricians for more information.

[See ]


From: pgeralnik@p..

Re: Federal Pacific Electrical Panels

To follow up on this, my electrician also mentioned a problem with these panels and said most insurance companies will pay to replace them.



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