Some spring fire safety tips

Spring has arrived and it is time to spring into action. Start thinking about doing a clean-up and inspection of your home and yard.
It also is time to look for any fire hazards. The Office of the Fire Marshal and Ministry of Natural Resources has an excellent pamphlet on spring fire safety.
I would like to share some of their tips with you. Here are 10 spring fire safety tips:
•Dispose of trash that can fuel a fire
Clean up that workbench, storage area, and attic. Keep combustibles at least four feet (1.2 m) away from open flames and ignition sources such as your woodstove, dryer, furnace, or hot water heater.
•Clean and test your smoke alarms
Smoke alarms won’t work if they are clogged with dust so vacuum them when you’re cleaning up! And remember: test your smoke alarms weekly by pressing the test button.
Test your smoke alarms monthly by using actual smoke from a smoldering piece of cotton string, incense stick, or candlewick.
Replace the battery when you change your clocks in the spring and fall, or when necessary. Make sure your family knows the sound of the alarm and what to do in case of fire.
•Properly maintain your electrical equipment
Remember to check your breaker panel/fuse box during your clean-up! Is it equipped with the proper size breakers/fuses? Are spare breakers/fuses handy?
Have an electrician replace any damaged cords, plugs, and frayed or cracked wires.
•Don’t forget those chimneys
When you’re all done heating this year, clean and inspect your chimney. If repairs are needed, do them now.
•Keep matches and lighters away from children
During your spring clean-up, find a spot for those matches and lighters. Store them on a high shelf, out of reach and sight of children.
•Keep outdoor debris away from your house and garage
Dry grass and debris can collect under unsheathed porches, decks, and floors. Its a good idea to enclose these areas in if this is a problem.
•Make a fire break
A green lawn 16 feet (5 m) around your home and cottage is a good primary firebreak. Lower branches on trees, dead grass, and household debris should be completely removed from your property.
•Use and store fuel with care
Never store propane, gasoline, or any other flammable liquid inside the home/cottage, or even an attached garage. Leave them in their original containers or in approved safety containers.
Store them outside the home/cottage and attached garage, away from any ignition sources. Never smoke while handling fuel.
•Check before you burn
Compost or mulch yard debris. If you must burn, check with your local fire department or Ministry of Natural Resources office. Changes to the Forest Fires Prevention Act in 1996 created new burning guidelines!
•Wildfires do happen
If your home or cabin is near the woods, take care, especially during dry periods. Keep firefighting equipment handy–items such as fire extinguishers, buckets, shovels, and ladders.
If near a source of water such as a lake, a portable fire pump and lengths of hose are valuable.
If you never need what you learn about personal safety, you have lost nothing. If you never learn what you need, you may lose everything . . . your family and your life!

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