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Add Safety to Your Spring Cleaning Checklist

As you give your house a good cleaning this spring, don’t overlook appliances, fixtures and emergency supplies

Here are 10 things you might not have thought to check:

1. The stove’s exhaust hood. A year’s worth of home cooking—especially after the holidays, when your home might have hosted company—can leave grime and grease buildup on the hood. That buildup, which also includes food particles and dust, can catch on fire. Remove the hood and clean the filter and all surfaces.

2. The back of the refrigerator. When is the last time you pulled the fridge away from the wall and vacuumed the coils? A rule of thumb: Do that every two or three months. Dust on the coils prevents the appliance from operating efficiently. Once they’re clean, push the fridge back toward the wall, but don’t let it touch. Air needs to circulate around those coils.

3. The dryer vent. The lint that collects in the dryer duct presents a fire hazard. Snake it out at least twice a year and clean the lint trap after every dryer cycle.

4. Ceiling fans. It’s easy to overlook dirt and dust that you can’t see. Use a small ladder so you can climb high enough to wipe down the tops of the blades. If your fan has a built-in light, remove the decorative cover and rinse out the dust and dead bugs. Let it dry completely before replacing it.

5. Cord clutter. Are tangled cords a hazard in your home? Tangled cords can become damaged or frayed, increasing the risk of electrical shock or fire. A tangled mess increases the chance of damaging electrical equipment by inducing power loss or by accidentally pulling out one cord while working with another. Keep your wires neat and organized with cable ties or clips and make sure they are in good repair.

6. Power tools. Inspect power tools and outdoor appliances before using them. The long winter months could have left dirt buildup and some wear and tear. The risk of electrical danger is too high to not take a few minutes to clean them up and check for damage.

7. Smoke detectors. Although they may look clean from the outside, dust can accumulate inside the cover of smoke detectors and cause them to malfunction. Gently vacuum them with a soft brush to avoid false alarms, then check to ensure that the battery is operational. The Consumer Product Safety Commission recommends replacing smoke detectors every 10 years.

8. Outdoor lighting. Winter’s damp air can corrode the metal fixtures of outdoor lights, so check each one carefully. Check metal sockets for signs of corrosion. If you find rust that has eaten into the metal socket, contact an electrician to install a new one.

9. Outlets and switches. During your spring cleaning, take a quick walk through your home and check each switch and outlet. If you see any that appear discolored or are hot to the touch, contact an electrician immediately. This is a sign of a wiring issue that could easily become a fire hazard.

10. Emergency kit. Some things in your emergency kit are built to stand the test of time. But others, like batteries, canned goods and bottled water, must be replaced every so often. Take time each spring to toss out and replace as needed so you’re prepared for spring storms.