Every year, there are over 100,000 home fires in the United States. Many of these fires are a result of careless mistakes or negligence. Fires can be easily prevented if you become educated on household fire hazards. Fire damage is costly and can cause irreparable damage to your home. It’s not just the loss of material things that need to be considered when dealing with fire damage. Health problems faced as a result of smoke inhalation or water damage increase the overall cost of fire damage.
Learn how to prevent home fires before they happen by reading this blog post.
As the nights get colder and winter approaches, many homeowners will be looking to bring out their heating equipment. Heating equipment is a common cause of home fires, but it doesn’t have to be.
There are a few ways to avoid home fires from your heating equipment. Here are some simple steps you can take:
-Have a professional install stationary space heating equipment, water heaters, or central heating equipment according to the local codes and manufacturer’s instructions.
-Have a qualified professional inspect, clean, and service your central, forced air heating system annually. Replace filters monthly during the heating season.
-Have heating equipment and chimneys cleaned and inspected every year by a qualified professional.
-Keep anything that can burn at least three feet away from heating equipment, like the furnace, fireplace, wood stove or portable heater.
The highest risk of home fires is due to electrical systems. These include fires from faulty wiring, overloaded power outlets, and objects plugged into the outlets that overheat. It is important to have regular inspections of the electrical system to make sure everything is up-to-date and working properly.
Another cause of home fires is heating units. This can include anything used for heating such as fireplaces, portable heaters, and furnaces. Having a working carbon monoxide detector in the home can help prevent a heating-related fire.
Kitchens are also a common place where home fires start because people leave food unattended on the stove or in the oven too long. This can also happen if there are items blocking the stove or oven vents, causing items to overheat or catch fire.
It is also important to keep all flammable materials away from any source of heat, including space heaters, candles, and cigarettes.
Cooking accidents are the number one cause of home fires and home fire injuries, according to the National Fire Protection Association. Thanksgiving is the peak day for home cooking fires, followed by Christmas Day and Christmas Eve. The peak time for cooking fires is between 4 and 6 p.m., when everyone is preparing dinner.
As a rule, don’t leave cooking food unattended—stay in the kitchen if you are frying, grilling or broiling food. If you are simmering, baking or roasting food, check it regularly, remain in the home while food is cooking, and use a timer to remind you that you’re cooking.
Keep anything that can catch fire—oven mitts, wooden utensils, food packaging, towels, or curtains—away from your stovetop.
Install a smoke alarm near your kitchen, on each level of your home, near sleeping areas, and inside and outside bedrooms if you sleep with doors closed. Use the test button to check it each month. Replace all batteries at least once a year.
Smoking in one’s home
Smoking is the leading cause of residential fire deaths, according to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), causing an average of 900 deaths per year. The NFPA reports that a smoker’s death is seven times more likely to be caused by fire than the general population.
The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) estimates that cigarettes cause about 1,500 home fires each year. These fires are responsible for about 300 deaths and more than $400 million in property damage.
Out of all smoking-related house fires, 88 percent begin in the living room or bedroom, according to the National Fire Protection Agency (NFPA). The second leading cause of smoking-related fires is the careless disposal of smoking materials, like not properly extinguishing cigarettes or leaving cigarette butts on furniture or carpeting while they’re still lit. When cigarettes aren’t properly extinguished, they can smolder up to 24 hours before bursting into flames.
Heating equipment is a leading cause of home fire deaths. Make sure you turn off space heaters when leaving the room or going to bed. Don’t plug any other electrical devices into the same outlet as the heater. Keep all flammable objects at least three feet away from heating equipment like radiators, baseboard heaters, and wood stoves.
Fireplaces, chimneys, and wood stoves
Fireplaces, chimneys, and wood stoves are responsible for about 28% of home fires. Before you use your fireplace or wood stove, have it professionally inspected at least once a year. To prevent creosote and soot from building up in the flue, burn seasoned hardwoods only. Never burn trash or cardboard boxes in a fireplace or woodstove. Keep the firebox clean and dispose of ashes properly by storing them in a metal container outside at least 10 feet away from your home until they are cool.
Now that you know more about the most common causes of home fires, you can start taking precautionary measures to prevent them. First and foremost, you should never leave anything flammable near a source of heat. You should also make sure that your smoke alarms and fire extinguisher are in good working order. And above all, even if it goes without saying, every homeowner should have a plan of escape in mind before they’re faced with a real-life fire emergency.
Fire is a very real danger for many people’s homes, but these are steps you can take to protect yourself from it.