Tips to Reduce the Risk of Household Fires

Pan catching on fire

At a young age, people are taught basic fire safety and how important it is to have an escape plan. However, many of us subconsciously neglect these safety tactics. A fire can start quickly and suddenly. Therefore, knowing about common fire hazards will lower the likelihood of your house catching fire. Here are a few important tips that could help reduce the risk of a household fire:

Don’t be careless in the kitchen

Fires that happen in the kitchen are often caused by human error. It’s the people, not the applicant, that is usually at fault. For example, not turning off burners or the oven after cooking; leaving things like a potholder too close to the heat, wearing loose-fitting sleeves near burners can start kitchen fires, even loose hair can create pretty big issues. Here are some tips to avoid such a risk:

  • Never walk away from pots and pans on a stove
  • Have a fire extinguisher available in the kitchen
  • Clean the stove and oven regularly. Built up residue from grease and oil can later ignite
  • Pay attention to what you are wearing and whether or not clothing or hair might be in the range of the burners

Be cautious with alternative heating sources

In the winter months, you may choose supplemental heating sources to feel cozier, however with heaters comes risk. Many fires are caused by not cleaning woodburning devices properly, not giving space heaters accurate clearance or even refueling the heater improperly. Here are some tips to lower the risk of fires in your home:

  • Choose a newer space heater rather an older one to ensure adequate safety features
  • Give space heaters plenty of distance between furniture, curtains or other flammable objects
  • Install an alternative heating system, like a wood or pellet stove. Don’t hesitate to call a professional if needed
  • Use a fire screen or fireplace door to contain sparks
  • Clean the fireplace using appropriate tools and containers for ashes and coals
  • Let professionals inspect the chimney at least once per year

Be careful of things that can ignite

Candles are very popular and in recent years the amount of fires caused by candles has more than tripled. The majority of these fires resulted from candles being left unattended or used improperly. Candles are delightful to have in your home but they do pose a risk. In addition to candles, careless smokers are another large source of fire losses in homes. Smoking in the home creates a number of unnecessary risks. Here are some tips to help reduce igniting risk:

  • Set candles up safely leaving enough clearance from any flammable material
  • Extinguish the flame when leaving a room or leaving the house
  • Never fall asleep with a candle burning
  • Smokers: dispose of lit tobacco products properly
  • Don’t smoke in bed or when you are tired
  • Don’t leave lighters or matches around especially in the presence of children

Be aware of electricity running through the home

Having electricity in the home offers comfort and convenience but in old and new homes alike there is always a risk of an electrical system problem. When purchasing a home, it is important to consult with an electrician who will evaluate the electrical system for potential or existing problems. Helpful tips that could reduce your risk are:

  • Check electrical cords for signs of fraying and if so, replace them
  • Don’t pinch or cover electrical cords
  • Be aware of the capacity of your electrical system and don’t overload circuits
  • Know the difference between surge protectors and power strips—both have multiple plug-ins but surge protectors protect against a power spike
  • Most, if not all of your electronics should be attached to a surge protector
  • If you notice dimming or flickering lights, call an electrician
  • Be aware of hot outlets or switches and whether or not they emit odors. Be aware of any¬†discoloration or repeatedly blown fuses or tripped circuit

Remember, the clothes dryer can cause flames too

Back in the day drying clothes was less risky because it was contingent on the heat or wind from outside. Now, the dryer does the work for you making the task of laundry far more convenient. As great as they are, you always want to exercise caution when dealing with a clothes dryer. When it is in motion, it gathers extra lint in the lint trap and if this or any of the filters get clogged, the machine will not work as efficiently. Clogged filters and vents reduce the airflow that normally keeps heat from building up – and could eventually cause a fire. Tips to reduce your risks are:

  • Regularly clean the dryer vent
  • After each load clean the lint trap
  • Lint can accumulate under and behind the dryer, so be sure to check and clean these areas at least once per quarter
  • Do not run the dryer before leaving the house or falling asleep.

Fire can be beautiful when it’s contained but if given the chance it can run wild and cause¬†catastrophic damage. We strongly encourage you to be aware and be prepared in order to keep your home and family safe.

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