Make fire safety part of spring cleanup

Record Observer - - Opinion -

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.

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