Many of us are familiar with a few of the leading causes of house fires: faulty wiring, careless smoking indoors or a candle left unattended near combustible materials, but there are plenty of other ways that our homes can go up in flames.
Recently two separate fires in the Escondido area were both caused by clothes dryers, one of which caused $15,000 in damage. Fires caused by clothes dryers are not uncommon and dryers ignite an estimated 15,500 fires in the United States annually.
Between 360,000 – 400,000 home structure fires occur each year, resulting in 7 billion dollars in property damage, according to the National Fire Protection Association. With such alarming statistics, it’s important for us to do everything we can to minimize our chances of contributing to them. But how?
Simple. We can educate ourselves on what the leading causes for house fires are and how we can go about avoiding them.
Top 10 Leading Causes of House Fires
- Distracted Cooks (and Neglected Cookware)
Don’t wander off when cooking – an overheating pot or grease splattering pan can easily lead to a kitchen fire. Keep towels, rags, oven mitts and any other combustible materials away from heat sources as well.
Always keep space heaters and radiators at least 3 feet from anything flammable and avoid using them as a way to dry off any materials. For those of you with a furnace or chimney, it would be worth your while to have it inspected and/or serviced by a certified technician on a regular basis.
- Irresponsible Smoking
If you smoke indoors, be careful not to light up a cigarette if you’re feeling drowsy – the last thing you want is to fall asleep and have your cigarette slip from your fingers and light your clothes, furniture or carpet on fire! Also make sure that you use large, deep ashtrays that are placed away from anything that’s easily set afire.
- Electrical Appliances & Wiring
Frayed appliance wires, electric cords under rugs, overloaded outlets – these are all things that can lead to a fire. Perhaps it’s time you double-check your appliances for loose/frayed cords, brush up on your knowledge of electrical cord safety and have an electrician inspect the wiring in your home if you have to unplug one appliance to use another or notice your lights dim when you turn an appliance on.
Regardless if you’re lighting candles to make the house smell good, “set the mood,” or serve as a light source when the electricity goes out, make sure you set them in a sturdy holder away from all combustible materials. Be sure that you don’t leave them unattended for extended periods of time or completely forget about them altogether!
- Children Playing with Fire
In addition to keeping matches and lighters far from their child’s reach, it’s imperative that parents speak to their kids about fire safety and why it’s important they do not play with fire. Children often set fires out of curiosity or mischief, so it’s better to curb the urge before it hits.
- Clothes Dryers
Always be sure to clean the lint trap for your clothes dryer after each use to avoid build-up and reserve the dryer for clothing that is specifically designed to be machine dried. Failing to do so can result in a fire that can easily spread to the rest of your home.
- Holiday Decorations
Nothing’s safer than a dying tree wrapped in electrical cords, right? If you go for a live Christmas tree during the holidays, be sure to keep it well watered and away from candles, radiators, space heaters, fireplaces and any other type of heating equipment.
- Flammable Liquids
Chances are you have some kind of flammable liquid in your home – hey, even using certain haircare products can send your hair up in flames under the right conditions! Beyond that, it’s important that you store any fuels, solvents, cleaning agents or any other combustible solutions in a cool, well-ventilated area and far away from any heating sources.
- Fireplaces & Barbeque Grills
Propane and charcoal grills should only be operated outdoors and away from the home, deck railings or overhanging branches. It’s also crucial that you regularly clean your grill and check it for any potential leaks.