Make fire safety part of spring cleanup

Cecil Whig - - FRONT PAGE -

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.

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