By Michael Campbell
Special to GUIDON
Spring is here. It’s time to put away the snow shovels and prepare for your favorite spring activities, like barbecue, outdoor sporting events, yard work and everyone’s favorite: spring cleaning.
While clearing out the unwanted items, it is a good time to check your homes for unsafe conditions, and to ensure your families are safe from potential fire hazards.
Here are a few fire safety tips to help you perform your annual spring cleaning, and to ensure that your family has a safe spring.
— Check for and correct frayed or damaged extension cords and wiring on all appliances.
— Clean behind large furniture and appliances: Vacuum and clean behind furniture and appliances.
— Clean smoke detectors: Lightly run a vacuum over your smoke detectors and change the batteries to ensure proper operation in the event of an emergency.
— Barbecue grills: Place grills at least 15 feet from buildings and overhangs. Store your charcoal in a dry, cool location. Be sure to thoroughly inspect your grill before use. Grills are a favorite winter hiding place for critters.
— Recycle: Get rid of old newspapers, magazines and junk mail. These items tend to pile up and can greatly contribute to the severity and spread of fire.
— Remove leaves and trash from carports and garages: Combustible materials are dangerous if they are exposed to heated automobile components, especially under the vehicle.
— Properly store flammable liquids and home chemicals: Make sure that gasoline and home chemicals are well marked and out of the reach of children and pets. All flammables, i.e., gasoline should be stored in a cool dry place outside the house or work area.
— Plan your escape: This is a good time to sit down with your family or co-workers and discuss what to do in the event of a fire and identify your meeting place outside the house/work area.
Spring cleanup should also apply to the kitchens. Unattended cooking fires are still the most common cause of home/residential fires across the United States.
— Clean your oven: oven fires occur when oil/grease deposits are overheated and ignite.
— Clean the cooking surface of your stove: grease and food crumbs can quickly ignite.
— Keep combustible items, i.e. oven mitts, towels, wooden utensils, paper towels, etc., off the top of the stove.
— Plug cooking appliances directly into wall outlets. Do not use extension cords or surge protectors with cooking appliances.
— Ensure a safety area for children and pets around the stove or areas where hot food are prepared or served. Rule of thumb: leave a 3-foot clearance.
— Do not leave the kitchen while frying, boiling or when cooking anything on cooking surface. If leaving the kitchen, turn off the stove.
— When baking, roasting or broiling check the oven regularly. Remain in the home while food is cooking, and use a timer to remind you to check the oven while cooking.
These tips will help get you started toward a safe and enjoyable spring season. For questions or concerns, call the Fort Leonard Wood Fire Prevention Office at 573.596.0886.
(Editor’s note: Campbell is a fire inspector for the Fort Leonard Wood Fire Department.)