Home safety checks begin

May 14, 2003|by MARLO BARNHART

Spring cleanup is a rite of the season as surely as halter tops, bare feet and kite flying. But the benefits of cleanup to home safety may outweigh mere appearances, according to the Maryland Fire Marshal's office and area safety officials.

"We are trying to promote safety as part of the daily routine we all go through," said Faron Taylor, deputy state fire marshal. If safe behavior becomes routine, he said, then the incidence of fires and accidents will greatly decrease.

Taylor said Maryland State Fire Marshal William E. Barnard suggests spring is an ideal time to check homes and yards for dangerous materials and unsafe conditions and to spend the time to protect families and properties.


Another area to check is protection from dangerous chemicals, which has been in the curriculum in Washington County Public Schools for three years through an innovative program created here and implemented by the Local Emergency Planning Committee of Washington County.

Taylor said residents should take time to check each room in the home including the attic and basement, as well as the garage, yard and storage shed.

Some tips include:

  • Check for and correct any frayed or damaged appliance cords. Check wiring, fuses or breakers. Never leave appliances plugged in when not in use.

  • Eliminate piles of rubbish, trash and yard debris.

  • Take stacks of paper and magazines to recycling centers.

  • Repair water leaks, especially near electrical appliances.

  • Check for adequate clearance between appliances and combustibles.

All this month, the annual community safety survey conducted by the Hagerstown Fire Department will target downtown residences as well as those in the southeast and southwest quadrants of Hagerstown, said Acting Hagerstown Fire Chief Rick Kipe.

"We will be visiting homes between 6 and 9 p.m., Mondays through Thursdays," Kipe said. The firefighters will be in uniform and with their fire trucks.

Although keeping smoke detectors in proper working order is key to these surveys, Kipe said anyone wanting a full home safety check can request that and it will be done.

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