There are hundreds of thousands of house fires every year – many of them preventable. Fires not only result in property damages and the loss of personal belongings, but they also put you, your family, and first-responders at risk. In this post, we’ll explore seven of the most common causes of house fires and some of the steps you can take to prevent them from happening in your own home.
The kitchen may be the heart of the home, but it is also the number one place for fires. You can prevent disaster by staying attentive while cooking and removing flammable objects like oven mitts from the area surrounding your kitchen equipment. It’s also a good idea to keep a fire extinguisher nearby, but avoid using it on grease fires. For those, you’ll need a lid to quickly smother the fire instead.
Fire hazards persist even when you move your cooking outdoors. Grilling is a common cause of house fires, especially when grills are left unattended or placed directly under low-hanging branches or eaves. To prevent an outdoor blaze, keep your grill clean and free of grease buildup. You should also remain present at all times while using your grill, and keep it away from deck railing, your house, and other flammable objects.
It’s always a good idea to keep a few candles around just in case of an emergency. However, candles can also be a fire hazard when they are left burning unattended or placed within the reach of children and pets. Unless you opt for flame-free versions, we recommend placing candles away from other objects and flammables, as well as out of the reach of household members that may not understand proper fire safety measures. Also, be sure to blow out candles at night before going to bed, as most candle-related fires begin in the bedroom after the owner has fallen asleep.
Dirty Dryer Vents
If you have a clothes dryer in your home, you probably already know how important it is to clear the lint screen after each load. However, many people fail to clean their screens thoroughly, allowing small amounts of lint to remain in the dryer vent. These can accumulate and catch fire in the accordion vent ducts behind the dryer – particularly in the areas where the ducts sag. To prevent a hazard, check your vent ducts for buildup and consider replacing your accordion vent duct for a short metal one instead, as these do not acquire low points that sag.
While faulty wiring can cause fires, it is often user error that leads to electrical blazes. This could include, for example, placing a high-wattage bulb in a low-wattage fixture, removing the third grounding prong from a plug to make it fit an outlet, or plugging in an appliance with frayed wires. To help avoid a fire, we recommend checking your home’s outlets to ensure they contain arc-fault circuit interrupters (AFCIs), as well as ground fault circuit interrupters (GCIs) in the wet areas of your house. You should also make a habit of using extension cords and surge protectors only sparingly and temporarily, as these can overload your outlets.
The winters are long here in Shawano. Portable space heaters can make them more bearable, but they can also incite a blaze when used incorrectly. Reduce the risk of a fire by placing space heaters independent of flammable objects and on a level surface where they are unlikely to tip over.
Never store stain-soaked rags in a pile, as they can spontaneously combust despite not being exposed to heat. When working with solvents and flammable chemicals, check the manufacturer instructions for use and disposal, especially when using them on flammable materials like drop cloths and rags. If you must store them to dry, do so in an air-tight, metal container – preferably outdoors instead of in your garage.
If Your Home Catches Fire…
If the worst occurs, remove everyone from the home and call 9-1-1 right away. In the case of very small fires, having a fire extinguisher handy could help eliminate the blaze, but never attempt to fight a fire if it is unsafe to do so.
For more information about preventing home fires or to find out how you can better protect yourself against loss with insurance that covers belongings and home structures against fire damage, contact our office today.