With blue skies and warmer temperatures returning to our region, thoughts turn to cleaning up after the long winter, making repairs around the home and preparing for hot summer weather. This year, the Spokane Valley Fire Department would like to encourage you to include home fire safety items on your spring cleaning checklist — outside and inside your home.
Outside your 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 your home. Clean leaves and combustible debris out of gutters, downspouts and roofs. For the many residents who live in or near wooded areas, spring is a good time to think about wildfire awareness and start planning for the wildfire season. Planning ahead to clear your home ignition zone and create your property’s defensible space now will pay off when the temperatures rise this summer.
While you are outside, check to make sure that your home address numbers are intact, 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 local 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.
Inside your home, start by checking your smoke and carbon monoxide (CO) alarms. Smoke and CO alarms save lives – if they are working. You should test alarms every month by pressing the TEST button, and replace the battery at least once a year. Check the age of your alarms. If they are more than 10 years old, they need to be replaced. Finally, when was the last time you checked to make sure you have the proper number of alarms? There should be a smoke alarm in every bedroom, in a central location outside of bedrooms, and on every floor. You should have a CO alarm on every level of your home.
In the laundry room, clean out your 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 and food packaging. Check your home for cracked, frayed or overloaded extension cords or surge protectors.
Clear out clutter throughout your home. While clutter does not start fires, it becomes fuel that makes a fire grow: one small spark with fuel can lead to tragedy. Keep your floors of slip, trip and fall hazards, as well as anything that is blocking emergency access and escape routes.
Finally, know your physical limits. Spring cleaning can involve heavy lifting, so make sure to use proper lifting techniques and posture so you don’t injure yourself. Stay hydrated and take frequent breaks. With a little preventative work now, you can make a huge impact and reduce your home’s overall fire risks.