If you’re doing some spring cleaning, don’t forget to keep fire safety in mind

Many spring cleaning tasks will also improve the fire safety of your home, according to Erin Daniels from the Collierville Fire Department.

As she notes, “A clean house is a big step towards a fire safe house. Let’s take it one room at a time.â€

Here are Daniels’ tips:

Den and office: Check all electrical cords and replace any cracked or frayed cords.  Check any power strips; they should be UL certified and used for the amount of as recommended wattage.   Make sure no electrical cords are running under rugs or carpeting. Computers, TVs, refrigerators and air conditioning systems all merit the use of surge protector power strips, which offer protection from sudden power surges and storms.

Kitchen: Remove the grease, grime and dust lurking beneath small kitchen appliances such as coffee makers, toaster ovens and microwaves. Clean any grease build-up in the oven exhaust fan and motor. Wipe clean or vacuum the condenser coils behind the refrigerator.  Empty and clean any defrost trays. Keep items that can catch fire such as oven mitts, towels or wood utensils away from the stovetop. Check the expiration date of your kitchen fire extinguisher. Don’t leave cooking unattended.

Laundry Room: The area beneath and behind the washer and dryer units should be cleaned of dust and stray materials. Clean the dryer vent; also, use a lint filter and clean it regularly – excess lint in the dryer is the number one cause of dryer fires. Keep combustible items like boxes and piles of laundry away from the dryer. Never leave home or go to bed while the dryer is on.

Garage: Store gasoline only in UL-listed containers and out-of-the-way of vehicles. Make sure oily rags and painting materials are properly stored in airtight metal containers with self-closing lids so nothing will spontaneously ignite. Keep poisonous yard and/or vehicle products out of the reach of children.

Bedrooms: Every bedroom or sleeping area should have a smoke alarm. Smoke alarms should be inside and outside sleeping areas and on each level of the home. The National Fire Protection Association notes that the risk of dying in a home fire is cut in half in homes with working smoke alarms. Test smoke alarms once a month by pushing the test button, replace batteries twice each year during Daylight Saving Time and replace any smoke alarm that is ten years or older. Check carbon monoxide alarms as well.  Follow placement and replacement guidelines as provided by the manufacturer. Smoke alarms are now available with ten-year lithium batteries thus eliminating the need for biannual battery changes.

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Bathroom: Update your first-aid kit and replace any missing or expired items.  Make sure essentials, including bandages, water and emergency phone numbers are readily available.  Dispose of any expired or unused medications.  Medicine disposal information is available from the Collierville Police Department or the Tennessee Poison Center (1.800.222.1222). The American Red Cross website provides a list of recommended first-aid kit items. 

Stairways and Halls: Keep these areas clutter-free in case a quick fire escape is needed. To help prevent falls use non-slip rug pads beneath rugs.

Patio: Keep the grill in tip-top shape.  Clean the grease or fat build-up after every use.  Not only is the risk of fire decreased, but clean grills help the food cook better. Check the propane tank, hose, and all connection points for leaks.  If you smell gas when the grill is on, turn off the tank and burners immediately.  Use only charcoal starter fluid for charcoal grills.  Keep grills a safe distance away from buildings, low hanging branches and shrubbery; never grill beneath a patio, balcony or porch ceiling. Always maintain a safe zone around the grill to prevent children or pets from getting burned.  Never use outdoor cooking equipment indoors, for it is a fire and carbon monoxide hazard.

“You’ve done it!†Daniels said. “Your home is clean and fire safe.  Put up the broom, mop and rubber gloves and enjoy the lovely spring weather.† 

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