With somewhat warmer weather and longer days approaching, and while many of us continue to shelter in place during the coronavirus pandemic, people in the Lowcountry are focusing on long-neglected projects like spring cleaning, home repairs and yard work.
Homeowners are ready to clean up items that have accumulated over the winter. Here are some tips to help:
• 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 of the medicines that you have ever been prescribed. Spring cleaning is a good time to get rid of them, as well as any expired over-the-counter medicines that you may have.
• Maintain your yard, including 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 your hot water tanks, fire places, space heaters and dryers as well as under stairs.
• Check your barbeque grill for leaks and cracks and be sure to store any propane tanks at least 10 feet away from your house and garage. Locate grills a safe distance (at least 10 feet) from buildings or wooden decks.
• Test all your smoke alarms to ensure they are working. Change the batteries at least once a year. Most smoke alarms also need spring cleaning maintenance, so check your manual.
Spring cleaning can improve the appearance of your home and yard, and more importantly, it can improve the safety of your home and family.
Cinda Seamon is the fire and life safety educator for the Town of Hilton Head Island Fire & Rescue.