Spring clean for home fire safety

It's time to make repairs around the home before temps get too hot to handle. This year, Scottsdale  Fire Department suggests some home fire safety items for your spring cleaning checklist.

Inside the home, start by checking smoke and carbon monoxide (CO) alarms. Smoke and CO alarms save lives – if they are working. Alarms should be tested every month by pressing the TEST button, and replace regular 9-volt batteries at least once a year. (Lithium batteries last longer.  Note expiration date when installing.) Check the age of the smoke alarms; if they are more than 10 years old, they need to be replaced. Finally, be sure there are enough alarms installed. There should be a smoke alarm in every bedroom, in a central location outside of bedrooms, and on every floor. CO alarms are also required if the garage is connected to the home, and/or the home has a fire place and gas appliances. 

In the laundry room, clean out dryer filter, vents, and hoses of any lint and debris. According to the National Fire Protection Agency (NFPA), failure to clean dryers is the leading cause of laundry room fires. In the kitchen, clean the around stovetops of all combustibles, including oven mitts, utensils, towels, or food packaging. Check the home for cracked, frayed, or overloaded extension cords or surge protectors. 

Clear out clutter throughout the home. While clutter does not start fires, it becomes fuel that makes a fire grow: one small spark with fuel can lead to tragedy. Floors need to be kept clear of slip, trip, and fall hazards, as well as not blocking emergency access and escape routes. 

Outside the home, remove potential fire fuel by cleaning up leaves and debris, and trimming tree branches to maintain a “fire zone” of at least 10 feet from the home. For homes in urban interfaces, a 30-foot defensible space is the goal to be "firewise." Clean out gutters, downspouts, and roof of leaves and combustible debris. Check to make sure that address numbers are still up, not faded, and clearly visible from the street. Check outdoor electrical outlets and replace outdoor light bulbs so address numbers are illuminated at night. 

Spring is also a good time make sure that paint, yard, and pool chemicals are stored properly. Old or leaking containers should be disposed of through waste management. Check gasoline and other fuel containers for leaks, and make sure they are stored in a cool, dry place away from combustible materials. 

Finally, if your home was built or significantly remodeled after Jan. 1, 1986, it should be outfitted with an approved fire sprinkler system. These systems are effective only if they are maintained in working order. Homeowners can assist with keeping the system in working order.  Learn more about system maintenance and to schedule an inspection here.

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