A good spring house cleaning can significantly help promote fire safety in your home. It's the ideal time to check homes and yards for dangerous materials and unsafe conditions and spend the time to protect families and properties.
Start by taking a few minutes to plan a safety cleanup day. You will want to check each room in your house Don't forget the garage, yard, and storage shed.
The garage is a good place to start. Make sure oily rags and painting materials are properly stored in airtight metal containers with self-closing lids so they can’t spontaneously ignite.
Store gasoline only in UL-listed gas containers, always making sure it’s stored so you won’t run over it with your vehicle and your children won’t knock it over. Properly dispose of clutter, like piles of old papers and magazines. Check the area around the water heater and furnace and safely move all combustibles and flammables away from heaters.
Check your clothes dryer and make sure it is clean to prevent a mishap. Recent studies indicate that dryers can be a major fire hazard. By keeping the dryer exhaust duct and housing free of lint, and by using metal ducts instead of plastic ones, you can help minimize the risk involved. Lastly, don’t leave home or go to bed while your dryer is on.
When cleaning the kitchen, check the exhaust fan/motor/duct and the stove and oven, making sure they are free from grease build-up. Move all combustibles away from the stove. To prevent overheating, don’t plug more than one major appliance into an outlet. Keep heating elements of appliances clean and don’t leave cooking unattended. Turn handles inward so children can’t reach them. Don’t wear loose clothing while cooking because clothes ignite easily.
Check for cracking, fraying or wear on cords and plugs, as with all electrical appliances. Keep a fire extinguisher in the kitchen near an exit door and on each floor of your home, always making sure to check the expiration date.
Just like in the kitchen, check the exhaust fan/motor/duct and make sure it’s clean. (Hairspray and dust make for a bad combination.) Don’t overtax your electrical system, and make sure all the cords for hair dryers, curling irons, shavers, etc. are in good order.
Keep grills a safe distance away from any building, and at least 20 feet away from multi-family dwellings. Always maintain a safe zone around the grill to prevent children or pets from getting injured.
Never use outdoor cooking equipment inside, as this creates a significant fire and carbon monoxide hazard.
Working smoke alarms are vital to notifying of a fire quickly, allowing you and your family adequate time to escape. A report published by the National Fire Protection Association stated the most common reason for smoke detector failure in the United States was missing or dead batteries. It is estimated that approximately 900 lives could be saved annually if all homes had working smoke detectors.
Smoke detectors should be tested at least monthly and should have batteries replaced twice a year. A simple way to remember to change your smoke detector battery is to change the battery when you change your clocks.
Carbon monoxide detectors
Test CO alarms monthly and replace the batteries according to the manufacturer’s recommendation, which is typically twice a year. CO detectors are not a substitute for smoke detectors.
You can do a lot to protect yourself, your family and your property. In fact, you are the key to your safety. A little time spent on simple common sense prevention makes your house a safer place.