A house fire can be both deadly and devastating. According to the National Fire Protection Association an estimated 374,000 U.S. homes catch fire, costing over $8 billion and 2,600 lives each year. The sad part is that most house fires can be prevented when precautions are taken.
Below are some of the most common causes of house fires, and some tips to take precautions.
- Kitchen/Cooking Fires
Pots and pans left unattended on the stove pose a huge fire threat. Many fires start in the kitchen. Always stay in the room, or ask someone to watch your food, when cooking on hotplates. Always have a fire extinguisher handy in the kitchen to keep a small fire from burning your whole house down.
With the cost of heating fuel skyrocketing, portable heaters are becoming more popular. While many modern space heaters come with safety features like automatic shut off, you should keep all heat sources away from furniture, curtains, laundry, and even yourself. If you use a fireplace or wood burning stove make sure your chimneys are cleaned regularly to avoid fires.
- Smoking Indoors
While smoking is bad for you in general, up to 75% of household fires are caused by smoking indoors. A cigarette that is not put out properly can cause a flame because the butt may stay lit for a few hours. It could burst into flames if it comes into contact with flammable materials, such as furniture.
- Electrical Equipment
Electrical fires are also common. Electrical appliances, such as a toaster, can start a fire if they’re faulty or have a frayed cord. A power source that is overloaded with double adapter plugs can cause a fire from an overuse of electricity. Make sure you don’t over load outlets with too many electronics or appliances. Don’t use appliances or electronics with worn or frayed cords.
Candles look and smell pretty, but can fuel disaster if left unattended. Keep candles away from any obviously flammable items such as books and tissue boxes. Make sure you blow candles out before leaving a room and keep them away from children. Opt for LED or battery powered candles that give the same look, without the risk.
- Curious Children
Fire is fascinating to kids. Often that interest can lead to an out of control situation very quickly. Keep any matches or lighters out of reach of children. Install a smoke alarm in your child’s room and practice a home escape plan with your family in case there is a fire.
- Faulty Wiring
Homes with inadequate wiring can cause fires from electrical hazards. Some signs of bad wiring are: Lights dimming if you use another appliance; having to disconnect one appliance to use another because fuses blow or trip the circuit frequently. Have a licensed electrician come and inspect you house if you think you might have a wiring issue in your home.
Barbeques are great for an outdoor meal, but should always be used away from the home, tablecloths, or any plants and tree branches. Keep BBQs regularly maintained and cleaned with soapy water and clean any removable parts. Check the gas bottle for any leaks before you use it each time.
- Flammable Liquids
If you have any flammable liquids in the home or garage such as petrol, kerosene, or methylated spirits, keep them away from heat sources and check the label before storing. Store them in proper containers and make sure they are in a ventilated room. Fumes that build up can create a literal powder keg if exposed to the smallest of sparks. Properly dispose of flammable liquid you do not intend to use in a timely manner.
Lamps and other lighting can pose a fire risk. Lampshades and curtains can overheat and catch fire when placed too close to conventional light sources. Try to use LED bulbs or bulbs that do not emit so much heat. They will also save you on electricity costs!
Even when we do take precautions house fires can still happen. If your home is damaged by fire or smoke contact the experts at Branch Services, we can help you clean up and rebuild after a fire, flood, or natural disaster.