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From the Fire Marshal: Spring Fire Safety Tips

As the warm weather approaches, families are turning their attention to indoor cleanup and outdoor projects.  This is the ideal time to tour the home and yard for dangerous materials and unsafe conditions and to correct problem areas.  The Orange Fire Marshal’s Office suggests these important fire safety guidelines to help ensure a pleasant season.

Please remember:  OPEN BURNING IS NOT PERMITTED IN THE TOWN OF ORANGE.  There are numerous fire and safety concerns such as smoke, flying embers, and the possibility of the fire spreading out of control.  In addition, open burning is a violation of the Connecticut Clean Air Act.  Our office understands that this may be an inconvenience and appreciates your cooperation.

The following tips are important to remember while working in the yard.  Prior to starting lawn care, walk around the area and remove debris that could damage equipment or cause injury.  Clean leaves and needles from gutters and cellar windows.  Keep a fire safe zone around the house.  Prune away limbs and trees along the driveway that could prevent easy access for fire trucks or ambulances.  Know how to operate outdoor equipment properly.  Extension cords must be in good condition and rated for outdoor use.  Always unplug electrical tools and disconnect spark plugs on gasoline-powered tools before making any adjustments or clearing jams near moving parts.  Never work with electrical tools in wet or damp conditions.  To prevent electrocution, use a ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI).  If you leave your tools unattended, always make sure they are turned off and inoperable.  This helps to avoid unauthorized use, accidents and injuries.  Never fill the gas tanks while equipment is operating or when it is still hot.  Do not fill the gas tank inside of a garage, shed or other enclosed area.  Remember to quickly wipe up any spills.  Always store gasoline in approved containers away from your home – never inside.  Never smoke or use any type of flame around gasoline.

Use gas and charcoal grills outside only.  They pose both a fire hazard and the risk of exposing occupants to toxic gases and potential asphyxiation, if used indoors or in any enclosed space.  Position the grill away from siding, deck railings and out from under eaves and overhanging branches.  Place the grill a safe distance from lawn games, play areas and foot traffic.  Declare a three-foot “kid-free zone” around the grill and keep children and pets away from this area.  Periodically, remove grease or fat buildup in the trays below the grill so it cannot be ignited.  Check the gas cylinder hose for leaks before using it for the first time each year.  A light soap and water solution applied to the hose will quickly reveal escaping propane by releasing bubbles.  If you determine your grill has a gas leak, by smell or the soapy bubble test, and there is no flame, turn off the gas tank and grill.  If the leak stops, have the grill serviced by a professional before using it again.  If the leak does not stop, call 911.  Do not attempt to move the grill.  Never store propane gas cylinders in buildings or garages.

For the most part, indoor spring cleaning consists of storing away winter clothing and items and cleaning and sprucing up the home’s interior.  However, it is also the ideal time to check for dangerous materials and unsafe conditions.  Take a few minutes to look for clutter in each room, including the attic and the basement.  Clutter, such as stacks of old newspapers or magazines, empty boxes, broken or obsolete appliances and furniture, is “Food for Fire”.  If a fire should occur in your home, the clutter would provide material to be consumed and help to spread the fire.  It could also block or hinder your escape, as well as the incoming path of firefighters.  Remove all hazards.  Never use gasoline as a cleaning solvent.   Replace or fix frayed or damaged appliances cords, wiring, breakers or fuses.  Check for water leaks, especially near electrical appliances.  Properly store flammable liquids and chemicals in a cool, dry place.  Items should be well marked and out of the reach of children.  Be sure there is clearance between combustibles and heating appliances and other heat and ignition sources.  Clean up work areas.

If it was not done at the beginning of daylight savings time, replace the batteries in smoke and carbon monoxide alarms.  This is a simple step that takes only a few minutes, but can save lives.  The alarm will alert occupants and allow time for an escape.  Test alarms every month by using the test button or an approved smoke substitute.  Do not use an open flame device.  Even though the alarms may work when tested, install a new smoke alarm after 10 years and a carbon monoxide detector in accordance with the manufacturers’ suggestion to protect against failure, as older models may be less reliable.  If an alarm “chirps” to indicate a low battery, immediately replace the batteries.

It is important to have and practice a Home Escape Plan.  Know two ways out of every room and make sure doors and windows can be opened easily.  Designate a place for family members to meet outside.  Call 911 after exiting the home.

Carbon monoxide alarms are available free of charge to Orange residents.  They may be obtained at the Orange Fire Marshal’s Office, 355 Boston Post Road.  If you would like alarms installed, assistance with changing the batteries in an existing alarm, have questions or need further information about any fire prevention and/or safety matter, please call the Orange Fire Marshal’s Office at (203) 891-4711, Monday through Friday, from 8:30 am to 4:30 pm or visit the website at: www.orangefiremarshal.com.

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