Make fire safety part of spring cleanup
Our volunteer firefighters in Cecil County put their lives on the line every time they hear that distress call and hop in their engines to battle a blaze. They fight through smoke and risk burns and other injuries to extinguish house, vehicle, business and brush fires, and to make sure residents of Cecil stay safe in those dangerous, potentially fatal situations. For all of that, we can’t thank them enough.
So here are some steps we can all take to make their jobs just a little easier. Make fire prevention part of this year’s spring cleaning, and implement helpful tips from Maryland State Fire Marshal Brian S. Geraci.
“It’s the ideal time to check our homes, porches, garages, sheds and yards for dangerous materials and unsafe conditions and to spend some quality time to protect our families and properties,” Geraci said in a press release.
According to the Office of the State Fire Marshal’s checklist, when safeguarding homes, including attics and basements, as well as garages, sheds and yards, we should do the following:
Remove or correct all electrical hazards. This involves checking and fixing any frayed or damaged wires, cords, fuses or circuit breakers. The cause of some of the fires on which we have reported in recent years were determined by investigators to be electrical.
In addition, recycle stacks of paper and magazines, check for water leaks near electrical appliances and make sure there is adequate clearance between heating appliances and combustibles. Get rid of piles of trash and yard debris outside; clear away dead leaves and brush from the outside walls of the home and clean under decks, porches and stairs.
Properly store flammable liquids and home chemicals. This means making sure gasoline and cleaning products are out of children’s and pets’ reaches and stored in a cool, dry and locked place.
Check fire protection and safety equipment. It’s a good time of year to test smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors, and to make sure doors and windows aren’t blocked and can easily open in the event of an emergency.
Have a family escape plan. Make sure everyone knows how to get out of the house quickly and where to meet if a fire starts. Every room should have two ways out, according to the fire marshal. Once you’ve got a plan in place, it can’t hurt to practice it.
So far, Cecil County has seen one fatal fire, but by implementing these safety tips we may be able to prevent another unfortunate loss of life. These tips may also help prevent further loss of homes due to fire — something that scores of families have experienced so far in 2016.
So take the fire marshal’s tips to heart. Find even more seasonally relevant tips, including those for barn fire prevention, backyard grilling and fireworks, on the National Fire Protection Association’s website at www.nfpa.org/safety-information/ safety-tip-sheets.
Happy cleaning — and stay safe.