Warmer weather this week may have many people thinking of refinishing a deck, fence, or piece of furniture. TVF&R wants you to know that wood refinishing and oil-based paint products can be a health and fire risk if not used properly. These products contain compounds that, after being exposed for long periods of time, can create throat and eye irritation, cause nausea and headaches, and trigger asthma attacks. Protect yourself by wearing rubber gloves and eye and mouth protection, and completing projects outside or in a well-ventilated area (open doors and windows if indoors).
In addition, TVF&R has responded to a multitude of fires caused by the oily rags from in a wood refinishing project. Wood-refinishing products contain organic oils that, as they dry, can generate heat. If the oily rags are folded up or thrown in a pile, heat can build to the point that it spontaneously ignites the combustible rags, resulting in a fire. Minimize your chance of a fire by following the manufacturer’s instruction for safe disposal of rags. In most cases, manufacturers advise:
1. Allowing brushes, rags and tarps to dry on a flat, non-combustible surface away from ignition sources (driveway, patio);
2. Soaking used rags in a closed, metal container filled with water and taking the container to your local hazardous materials waste disposal center.