Excessive Household Content Increases Risks for Residents and First Responders
“Routine cleaning can help reduce common household fire hazards and make your home, family, and neighbors safer,” said State Fire Marshal and Commerce & Insurance Commissioner Julie Mix McPeak. “It’s crucial to properly maintain items such as clothes dryers and electric cords and to properly address the fire risk created by having excessive content in the home.”
The excessive accumulation of materials in a home (commonly called ‘hoarding’) poses a significant fire threat. Collecting or keeping large amounts of items can not only block exits and hinder a person from escaping a fire, but it can also deter first responders from being able to reach residents in an emergency.
The State Fire Marshal’s Office shares the following safety tips to consider when cleaning your home:
Inside the Home
· Dust smoke and carbon monoxide alarms with a light cloth and gently vacuum to clear away any remaining debris or cobwebs.
· Change batteries in smoke and carbon monoxide alarms and flashlights.
· Test your smoke and carbon monoxide alarms. Replace any smoke alarms that are 10 years old or older and any carbon monoxide alarms that are six years old or older.
· Store 9-volt batteries safely. Keep batteries in original packaging until you are ready to use them. If loose, keep the posts covered with masking, duct, or electrical tape to prevent them from coming in contact with metal objects.
· Clean your dryer’s lint filter before or after each load of laundry. Remove lint that has collected around the drum. At least once a year, clean lint out of the vent pipe.
· Clear excessive clutter. Clutter that blocks windows or doors can prevent you from escaping a fire and can hinder firefighters from reaching you in an emergency.
· Check the cords on your appliances. If they are cracked or frayed, repair or replace them.
· Practice your fire escape plan with everyone in the home. Know two ways out of every room and designate an outside meeting place for all to go in the event of an emergency. Make sure all doors and windows open easily for fast escapes.
· Check the pressure gauge or indicator on your home fire extinguisher to make sure that it is in the operable range (the needle should be in the green portion of the gauge).
· Remove grease build-up from your stove/oven. Keep stovetop clean and clutter-free.
Outside the Home
· Make sure your address number is visible from the street.
· Clean roofs and gutters, and inspect chimneys.
· Rake and remove leaves, dead limbs, twigs and rubbish from around and under structures and clear all flammable vegetation.
· Ensure vents for your gas appliances (fireplace, furnace, etc.) are clear of debris.
· Have your grill cleaned and serviced. Check all propane tanks and lines for leaks and damages. Place your grill well away from siding, deck railings, eaves and overhanging branches.
· If you store gasoline or other hazardous household materials, keep them in a cool, dry place outside your home out of the reach of children and pets. Keep only small quantities in tightly sealed containers.
To help create a home fire escape plan for your home, print the State Fire Marshal’s home fire safety checklist and escape grid. For more home fire safety information or to download a free copy of the 2018 Tennessee State Fire Marshal’s Office calendar, visit tn.gov/fire.