Many homeowners and renters don’t realize how quickly a fire can spread in the place they live. A flame can turn into a major fire in just 30 seconds and an entire home can be filled with fire in minutes, according to Ready Gov. An average of more than 300,000 fires ignite in houses each year in the United States, according to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), and most of them are preventable.
Taking the time to become familiar with home fire hazards can keep you and your family safe from disaster. Read about these six common fire hazards to learn a few simple ways to prevent fires in your home.
Cooking was the number one cause of reported home fires and home fire injuries from 2015-2019, according to NFPA. Research from NFPA showed that unattended equipment is a factor in one-third of reported home cooking fires, and twice as many home cooking fires start with the ignition of food or other cooking materials. We’ve collected some of the fundamentals of fire safety in the kitchen that you can read in our blog here. Here are a few additional tips to increase your safety while cooking.
- Stay alert. Never leave food unattended while frying, grilling, boiling, or broiling.
- Always use a timer to remind you that you’re cooking.
- Never put metal or foil in a microwave.
- When simmering, baking, or roasting food, remain in the kitchen and check the food regularly.
- Keep flammable items away from your stovetop. These include oven mitts, wooden or plastic utensils, food packaging, towels, and curtains.
U.S. fire departments responded to an estimated 7,400 home structure fires that were started by candles from 2015-2019, according to NFPA. These fires caused an annual average of $291 million in direct property damage.
Although candles are extremely common, many people forget that they have the potential to be extremely dangerous. Here are a few steps to reduce fire risk around candles.
- Never leave candles in a room unattended.
- Keep candles, matches, and lighters out of reach of children and pets.
- Avoid using candles in the bedroom or any other area where people may fall asleep.
- Try fire-safe alternatives, like flameless candles or reed diffusers.
- Trim wicks and throw-out the candle when the wax level is running low.
The electrical system in homes is often overlooked as a possible fire hazard. Electrical fires can be caused by common household items like overloaded power strips or outlets, overheated appliances, washers and dryers, and space heaters. Thousands of people in the United States are injured as a result of electrical fires and accidents in their own homes each year, according to Electrical Safety Foundation International.
In addition to performing a routine inspection on your home electrical systems, these steps can increase your electrical safety.
- Repair or replace all damaged electrical cords.
- Avoid overloading power strips and wall outlets.
- Use the recommended wattage on all lightbulbs for lamps and lighting fixtures.
Fires caused by cigarettes and other smoking materials are extremely preventable. If you or someone in your home smokes, know the steps to take to keep themselves and families safe from fire.
- Always smoke outdoors.
- Use an ashtray with a wide, stable base that is hard to tip over.
- Before disposing of ashes and cigarette butts, make sure they’re completely out by dowsing them in water or sand.
- Keep cigarettes, matches and lighters away from children.
- If using an e-cigarette, never leave it unattended while the battery is charging.
5. Clothes Dryers
A clogged vent can cause your dryer to operate inefficiently and use more energy, but that’s not all. Clogged dryer vents can cause fires that could threaten your entire home. The ideal time to protect and clean your home is now. Learn more about cleaning a dryer vent and follow these tips.
- Never overload your dryer.
- When the dryer is operating, check that the air exhaust vent is not blocked or covered and that the outdoor vent flap is open and working.
- After every use, clean the dryer lint filter. Never use your dryer without a filter.
- Have a professional inspect and clean your dryer at least once a year to eliminate fire hazards.
Even though fireplaces provide warmth and ambiance, if you have and use a working fireplace in your home, you should remember that open flames are dangerous. Use these pointers to increase your safety around your fireplace.
- Before burning anything, check that your chimney is clean and clear of any debris.
- Use a fireplace-specific screen or door as a spark guard.
- Make sure that all ashes and coals are completely cool before disposing of them in your regular garbage.
- Have a professional inspect and clean your fireplace once a year.
At ALE Solutions, we understand that homes and lives can become devastated by fire. ALE works with policyholders and their insurance adjusters to ensure the needs of both parties get met in a timely and effective manner. For more information, please visit alesolutions.com.