With warmer weather and longer days approaching, people in the Lowcountry are focusing on long-neglected projects like spring cleaning, home repairs, garage organizing and yard work.
Many residents are ready to clean up items that have accumulated over the winter. This kind of spring cleaning can actually improve the safety of your home and family.
Before you start, here are some reminders to help keep your home safe.
• Reduce the amount of clutter inside and outside your home. While clutter does not start fires, it can become fuel for a fire. Household and pool chemicals, paints and poisons should be marked and stored out of children’s reach. Dispose of any that are leaking or expired.
• Make sure gasoline and cleaning fluids are also marked and stored in a cool, dry place away from the house and away from children and pets. Use only approved containers for gasoline storage.
• Common household chemicals can fuel a fire and can also be hazardous to your health. Maintain only the amounts you need and be sure to use, store and dispose of household hazardous materials in a safe manner as outlined on the product.
• Your medicine cabinet is not meant to be a storage area for all the medicines that you have ever been prescribed. Spring cleaning is a good time to get rid of them and any expired over-the-counter medicines that you may have.
• Maintain your yard by trimming bushes, plants and trees. Removing vegetation clears fuel for any potential fire.
• Keep gutters and roofs clear of leaves and other buildup. Check the kids’ play area for sharp objects, poisonous plants and tripping hazards.
• Clean up work areas by putting tools and other work items away from children’s reach. Remove all fire hazards, including stacks of rags, newspapers and magazines. Pay attention to spaces around hot water tanks, fireplaces, space heaters and dryers, as well as under stairs.
• Check the barbeque grill for leaks and cracks and be sure to locate it a safe distance (at least 10 feet) from buildings or wooden decks. Store any propane tanks at least 10 feet away from your house and garage.
• Test all your smoke alarms to ensure they are working. Change the batteries at least once every year. The twice-yearly switch back and forth to Daylight Saving Time is a good reminder. Most smoke alarms also need “spring cleaning” maintenance – check your manual.
Cinda Seamon is the fire and life safety educator for the Town of Hilton Head Island Fire & Rescue.