Make fire safety part of spring cleanup
Our volunteer firefighters in Queen Anne’s 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 Queen Anne’s County 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 statement.
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.
Local fire departments will participate in the Statewide Community Risk Reduction weekend May 14-15 in a partnership with the Office of the State Fire Marshal, the Maryland State Fireman’s Association and the Maryland Fire Chief’s Association.
They will canvass neighborhoods in effort to provide fire safety education and the installations of 10 year long-life battery operated smoke alarms.
Working smoke alarms can mean the difference between life and death. According to the National Fire Protection Association, nearly 70 percent of fire deaths result from fires in homes with non-working smoke alarms or no smoke alarms at all. Chances of surviving a fire in your home are increased by 50 percent when working smoke alarms are activated during a fire.
No fire safety program is complete without having a fire escape plan. The entire family should plan and practice their escape routes together at least twice a year to help ensure everyone gets out safely in the event a fire occurs in the home.
Happy cleaning — and stay safe.