House fire prevention: how to store and dispose of oily rags

Summer and fall are the perfect time to start and finish home improvement projects before winter weather hits. One popular improvement project is remodeling, or re-staining a home’s deck. The deck is the perfect place to relax on warm evenings, so it only makes sense to get your front or backyard deck in its finest condition.

Staining a deck on your own can save a lot of money, but it is also be a potential first hazzard

While deck stains can let off a lot of fumes (it’s important to stain in a well ventilated area), a staining project becomes dangerous from the oily rag you use to do the staining. A pile of oily rags you worked with and simply threw into your garage can be a huge fire hazard.

As oily rags begin to dry, heat is produced. If they’re thrown into a pile, oxygen can be  trapped underneath. The heat, oxygen and cloth combination can lead to spontaneous combustion, which can cause a fire that may destroy or severely damage your home.

Here are 3 tips to properly store oily rags

  1. Store the old oily rags in an airtight metal container. If you plan to use your rags later, storing your oily rags in an airtight metal container is very important. Fill the container with a solution of water and an oil breakdown detergent.
  2. Never store rags in a pile. Spread used rags out in a safe flat area to dry. Once the rags are dry, check with your city for disposal instructions and locations. Follow the manufacturer’s recommendations. Since manufacturers use different oils in their products,  be sure to follow their warnings and disposal instructions as it may be different for each manufacturer.

By taking simple safety precautions like properly disposing or storing old dirty rags, you can prevent a fire that could be devastating to your home. Fire safety is also important in the summer as most vegetation tends to dry out and become more flammable, so any fires started at your home can potentially spread.

What other summer fire safety tips do you have?


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