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Spring cleaning means solving potential fire hazards in your home

Inspect your barbecue and check for any damaged electrical cords, writes Andrew Zvanitajs
April 28, 2022

With warmer weather on the way, spring cleaning may be on your to-do list. This annual chore is a great way to get organized and remove potential fire hazards in and around your home. Be sure to follow these tips while tidying up.

Your smoke and carbon monoxide alarms must always be in good working order. Dust can clog a smoke alarm, so gently vacuum alarms using a soft brush every six months. Shut off the power before vacuuming electrically connected alarms, and always test your unit when you finish cleaning. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions when installing, testing and maintaining your alarms.

Check your home for damaged electrical cords and overloaded extension cords. Replace these items as needed, and remember, extension cords are only for temporary use. Have a licensed electrician install additional outlets if permanent wiring is required.

Ensure all your windows open and close properly and can be easily accessed if they need to be used as an exit in an emergency. Spring is also a good time to practice your home escape plan. Everyone should know what to do if an alarm sounds.

Don’t forget about your appliances and furnace. Clean and change all filters as recommended, vacuum or dust the coils on the back of your refrigerator and remove built-up lint from your dryer’s vent pipe. If these appliances are not properly maintained, the debris can become a fire hazard.

Always follow the instructions on household cleaners and never mix products. Store them safely -- out of the reach of children and in their original packaging -- and well away from heat sources.

Gather old boxes, newspapers, magazines and junk mail from around your home and put them out for recycling. These items are a source of fuel and can easily ignite. This can increase the severity and spread of a fire. Look around the outside of your home for similar fire hazards, including yard waste and chemicals, garbage and fuel containers, such as propane tanks.

These items need to be stored and disposed of properly to prevent a fire. If you don’t know how to dispose of something, use the City of Vaughan’s What Goes Where online tool at

Always let power equipment cool down before adding fuel or storing it inside to prevent a fire.

As you pull your barbecue out of winter storage, thoroughly inspect it before lighting it. Ensure hose connections are in good condition, fuel lines aren’t blocked, and burner ports are free of rust, dirt and cobwebs. Place the barbecue in a safe area away from combustible objects, such as buildings, fences, deck railings and landscaping.

With a little extra work now, you can help make your home as fire-safe as possible, so you and your family can enjoy the sunshine.

To learn more about fire safety, visit

Andrew Zvanitajs is the fire chief of the Vaughan Fire and Rescue Service.