It is important to stay alert to the danger of fires in the home. This article explains how to prevent common fire hazards and why you should:
- There are over 350,000 house fires in the U.S. every year
- Cooking accidents cause nearly half of all fires in the home
- Most house fires are preventable
Everyone wants to feel safe at home. It’s somewhere you can have fun with your kids, relax, watch a movie, or enjoy a backyard barbecue. Is a house fire something you should be worried about? Well, there’s no reason to panic as long as you take some basic precautions, but it is important to be aware of the most common causes of house fires so you can avoid them.
1. Kitchen Fires
The kitchen is a wonderful place to spend time together as a family, but it’s also important for kids and adults to be careful. Accidents in the kitchen are responsible for 49% of all fires in the home, and cooking is also the most likely situation to cause burn-related injuries. Several common situations can accidentally trigger fires:
- Oil gets too hot and ignites (about 600 degrees Fahrenheit)
- Open flame or hot stovetop left unattended
- Electric cooking appliances left plugged in
- Dishcloths, plastic bowls, or other flammable materials placed too close to heat
The most important way to avoid kitchen fires is to keep an eye on the stove while you’re cooking. This is one time when multitasking isn’t a good idea. Don’t leave oil heating up while you’re taking care of food prep. If you’re planning on sautéing or frying something, have all of your ingredients ready to go first.
We all know that electric appliances such as portable indoor grills, toaster ovens, and sandwich makers can save a lot of time. That’s a good thing. To make sure your kitchen is a safe place for kids, though, always disconnect these appliances when you’re not using them, even if they have an on/off button.
There’s nothing wrong with enjoying a relaxing bath, a romantic dinner for two, or a special occasion with some candles. The main danger doesn’t come from having lit candles while you’re in a room, but instead from forgetting to put them out. Over 23,000 residential fires a year are caused by candles.
Many fires start because a lit candle is too close to something flammable, such as a curtain, book, blanket, or lampshade. Remember, the part of the flame you see isn’t the hottest; the area above the top of the candle is even hotter.
To avoid problems, keep any candles 12 inches away from anything flammable. Make it a habit to put out all candles before you leave a room, whether it’s your bedroom, bathroom, or dining room. Be especially careful if you’re planning on relaxing with scented candles. It’s never safe to sleep with a candle lit.
3. Electrical Appliances, Power Strips, and Wiring Problems
Electrical fires cause over 50,000 home fires every year and over 1,000 fire-related injuries. These usually happen because of damaged outlets, faulty appliances, improper wiring, or incorrect plugs. For example, some people fill power strips with too many chargers and appliance cords, causing an overload or dangerous overheating.
If you live in an older home, it can be a good idea to have the wiring checked out by a professional electrician. Replacing wiring isn’t always cheap, but it’s less expensive than the cost of a fire. Never try to do electrical repairs yourself unless you’re a certified electrician.
4. Young Children
Kids are very curious, which doesn’t mix well with fire. Whether it’s a lighter, the stove, a toaster oven, or just matches, kids should never be allowed to play with things that can trigger a fire. There’s nothing wrong with letting younger kids help you prepare meals, but they shouldn’t use the stove or other appliances at all until they’re older, especially without supervision.
Of course, it’s impossible to watch your kids 24/7. How can you keep them safe? First, do your best to keep all matches and lighters in a place they can’t get to. Second, take the time to emphasize the dangers of these things and that fires are dangerous.
5. Space Heaters/Baseboard Heaters
Heating appliances are the second-highest cause of home fires every year in the United States. Any type of portable heater can be dangerous if left unattended. Fires can also start when blankets are too close to the heater. Pets or toddlers can potentially knock over space heaters, causing carpeting to start on fire. What can you do to avoid this?
- Follow the instructions in the device’s manual
- Keep space heaters away from combustible items
- Never leave kids or pets alone with space heaters turned on
- Choose modern heating appliances that have safety features
Many modern space heaters have emergency shut-offs installed that turn the unit off if it gets knocked over or starts to overheat. You can also choose a different type of heating, such as wall-mounted mini-split systems.
6. Gasoline Vapors and Flammable Liquids
This is mainly an issue in garages and basement areas, but it’s one that you can prevent with a few smart steps. First, be careful where you keep gasoline for lawn equipment. Use an approved gas container, and keep it at least 50 feet away from any heat sources, including vehicles, water heaters, and laundry appliances.
In fact, any chemicals or flammable liquids should always be kept outside the home — never in the basement. A separate shed is the best place.
Also, if you do your own oil changes or car maintenance in the garage, don’t keep oily rags piled up. They can spontaneously combust with air. If you’re going to keep them, wash them in a sink with soap and water. Don’t put them in a washing machine.
Smoking is really dangerous as far as house fires are concerned. Even though only about 5% of residential fires every year are caused by cigarette-related accidents, they’re responsible for over 20% of house fire deaths. This is because many of these fires begin while smokers (or family members) are asleep.
Of course, you have a right to smoke if you want to, but the best way to avoid fires is to smoke outside. Make sure any cigarette butts are completely out before tossing them in the trash. And never smoke in bed or near a medical oxygen container.
What To Do After a House Fire?
What if, despite everything you’ve done to avoid these causes of house fires and keep your family safe, a fire happens? Don’t lose hope. You can get through this situation. Your home can look just as beautiful as before with fire damage restoration.
First, contact your insurance company. Next, call our fire damage restoration professionals at Steamatic of North Indianapolis. Our caring team can explain all of the steps you need to take. We eliminate smoke damage, soot, fire damage, and moisture damage. We protect and recover treasured family mementos and other affected items. To learn more about the fire damage restoration process or for emergency assistance, contact us here any time, day or night or call (317) 849-7500 — we are available 24×7.
Featured Image: Svetlana Khutornaia/Shutterstock