You may have seen the news about some recent house fires in the Phoenix area. The Phoenix Fire Department responds to more than 14,000 fire calls per year and 3,275 people died in the U.S. in 2014 from fires. Here are some common causes of house fires and how to avoid it to protect your home and your family.
Cooking: You never think that it will happen to you. You’re cooking dinner and turn around for one second to check on the kids in the other room and you come back to find a fire in the kitchen. Cooking-related fires are very common, accounting for about 40 percent of all house fires.
To prevent this from happening to you, never leave a stovetop unattended while you are cooking and be sure to double check that you have turned off all burners after dinner is done. It’s not a bad idea to get in the habit of checking the stove and over one last time before going to bed or leaving the house as well.
Keep potholders, hot pads, dishrags, food packaging and paper or plastic bags away from your oven and stove. These items can be extremely flammable. Also, don’t wear loose or dangling clothing while cooking. Hovering over a simmering sauce while wearing dangling sleeves could lead to a disaster.
Keep a fire extinguisher in your kitchen and make sure that you have a smoke alarm installed near the cooking area that you test each month.
Candles: Candles are great for setting a cozy mood, celebrating birthdays and acting as a light source in case of a power outage, but they can also be dangerous. The National Fire Protection Association reported that between 2009 and 2013, candles started approximately 9,300 house fires–making them one of the major causes of house fires. You don’t have to nix candles for good, but you should be extra cautious.
If you have pets or kids, make sure candles aren’t within little-hand grabbing—or tail-wagging—proximity. Also, keep candles at least a foot away from anything flammable.
If you want to take an even safer route, candles warmers are a nice alternative to burning an actual candle. You can find ones that match your décor and some even have a light bulb built in to mimic the warm glow of a candle. You can also buy flameless candles, which have a flickering light bulb that looks just like the real thing—some even have a scent.
Smoking: Even if you smoke outside, you might not be doing everything you can to protect your home from fire. Always be sure to submerge your cigarette butts in water before throwing them away in the garbage can or dumpster. Also, you should never smoke in bed or after taking medication that makes you drowsy. Mattresses can be engulfed in flames in a matter of moments and if you are sleepy, you might not be able to escape.
Also, electronic cigarettes (e-cigs) are known to explode. So be sure to keep a close eye on this if you use one, and never leave an e-cig in the heat or left charging near flammable materials.
Electrical Fires: If your home is older, be sure to get the wiring inspected by a professional to make sure it is all up to code. Older homes may not have the wiring capacity to keep up with all the new electronics we use today. Overloading the electricity in an older home could lead to an electrical fire.
It’s also important to be careful about your use of extension cords and overuse of outlets. If you overwhelm the outlet, you are risking shorting it out, or worse, starting a fire. Extension cords shouldn’t be used as a permanent solution. You should plug things directly into an outlet whenever possible.
Also, never try to cover or hide cords under rugs. Although they might not be pleasant to look at, hiding a cord under a rug could lead to the cord being damaged over time. Any time a cord starts to fray or is damaged in any way, you should replace it.
Kids: It’s important to teach kids that playing with fire is never okay. You should set a good example for them by not playing with lighters, matches or lit candles yourself.
While you’re at it, make sure you talk to your kids about what to do if a fire happens in your home. Make sure they know what they smoke alarm sounds like and what to do if they hear it go off. Once you have a plan in place, be sure to practice it with the whole family periodically.
Forest Fires: One way to protect your home from forest fires is by building with non-combustible or fire-resistant materials.
It’s also important to keep the area around your home as free of flammable materials as possible. Pine needles, leaves and stray twigs can accumulate on your roof and in gutters, so be sure to sweep these out regularly—at least once a year. You should also keep tree branches trimmed so they don’t hang over your roof or near your chimney and you shouldn’t connect a wooden fence directly to your home. These things could all lead a fire near your property directly to your home.
Dryers: It is important to clean out your lint trap each time you put in a load of laundry, but keep in mind that the lint trap doesn’t catch every bit of lint your dryer produces. Lint buildup can be found under, behind and inside your dryer, even on the dryers heating element—and it is extremely flammable. That is why it’s so important to keep your dryer as lint free as possible.
You should vacuum behind and underneath your dryer periodically and have your dryer taken apart and cleaned by a service technician every few years, depending on how much of a workout you give your machine. Not only will these tips lower your risk of a dryer fire, but your machine will work better and more efficiently, too.
Last, but not least, never operate your dryer when you aren’t home or when you are asleep. If a fire starts and you aren’t around to notice, you could be in for a major surprise.
Being aware of these common causes of house fires, along with making sure you have working smoke detectors installed throughout your home, can help you avoid a disaster. If your home is damaged by smoke or fire in the Phoenix area, Slate Restoration is here to help with all of your fire damage restoration needs. We will come take a look at your damage for free and provide you with honest answers about how much it will cost to fix. Give us a call today at 480-550-2511 or send us a message online.