Three Leading Sources of Household Fires
Smokey Bear famously said, “Only YOU can prevent forest fires.” But what about fires closer to home? What steps can you take to reduce risks to yourself, your loved ones, and your property?
Fire prevention starts with awareness. Here are three home fire hazards that may be lurking in your home, along with safety tips to prevent them.
Your kitchen has all the ingredients for preparing your favorite foods. It also contains all the ingredients for forming and feeding a house fire.
The U.S. Fire Administration says cooking is the leading cause of all residential building fires and injuries. Keep your family safe by observing a few kitchen fire safety guidelines.
- Never leave cooking food unattended.
- Be sure to power off all heating devices before leaving the kitchen.
- Keep hot pads, dish towels, paper towels, packaging materials, and other combustibles away from heat sources.
- Since grease is combustible, be sure to clean your oven and burners regularly to prevent build-ups.
- If a grease fire starts, smother it with a large lid, salt, or baking soda. Never use water (which will spread the fire) or substances like flour (which is combustible).
- Store a fire extinguisher in a visible, easily accessed location and know how to use it.
Surprisingly, households using electric ranges have a higher risk of cooking fires than those using gas ranges.
Candles may provide soft lighting, romantic ambiance, and pleasant scents. They’re also a potential fire risk.
To reduce danger, follow these safety guidelines:
- Trade open-flame candles for battery-operated “simulated” candles.
- Don’t leave candles unattended and never use them as a night light.
- Place them on stable, heat-resistant surfaces.
- Keep candles away from flammable items, including drapes, linens, magazines, and decorations.
- Avoid setting candles where drafty air currents (from vents, open windows, or ceiling fans) might push a flame toward flammable items.
- Place candles out of the reach of children and pets.
3. Children and Pets
The youngest and furriest members of your family also pose a fire risk. The National Fire Protection Association says that roughly 7,100 home fires a year are caused by children playing with fire. Start teaching children fire safety at an early age.
Pets can also unintentionally trigger deadly blazes.
Children and pets are often curious. Keep them away from stoves and countertops where they may accidentally ignite, knock over, or bump into cooking equipment. Additionally:
- If you have a fireplace, add a screen that will hold children and pets at a safe distance.
- Store matches and lighters out of reach.
- Install plugs over any unused outlets.
- Check cords for damage. Frayed cables can generate fire-starting sparks.
- Maintain safe distances between children and space heaters, candles, and lamps. This is especially important if children are carrying blankets or stuffed animals. Ditto for pets (and their beds).
- Don’t use glass water bowls on a wooden porch. At the right angle, rays of sunlight can be magnified intensely enough to start a fire.
Other Safety Recommendations
In addition to the suggestions above, consider implementing these general fire safety tips:
- Read manufacturer recommendations and make sure your space heaters aren’t dangerously close to flammable materials.
- Keep a fire extinguisher on every floor (not just in the kitchen) and ensure everyone knows how to use it.
- Make sure every room in your home has a functioning smoke detector.