House fires are not particular about their victims, and the fact is that house fires can happen to anyone, but having some knowledge about the potential dangers of house fires is something that everyone should be educated about. Approximately 5,000 Americans die each year in fires, and 80 percent of those death’s result from home fires, according to the U.S. Fire Administration. In fact fire’s kill more people each year than all natural disasters combined.
With today’s astronomical prices on many new homes, many people opt to purchase fixer uppers or older homes, but some of these cheaper homes aren’t worth it if they pose fire dangers that the new homeowner is unaware of. Electrical fires are astronomical as unsafe electrical conditions such as overloaded circuits, damaged wiring and the misuse of extension cords go unnoticed.
If a plug seems to fit loosely into a wall outlet, this is an indication that the outlet needs repaired as soon as possible. A loose-fitting wall outlet may cause overheating which will eventually lead to a fire if ignored over time. Check the outlet to see if it is warm, and unplug all of the cords from the outlet until you can have an electrician inspect the outlet.
Use light bulbs that are the proper wattage for the lighting fixture. A bulb that exceeds the rating capacity of the fixture could overheat and cause a fire. You should never leave lamp sockets empty, and for safety reasons you should replace the light bulbs immediately.
The ambiance is the candles main allure which has made them extremely popular over the last few decades, but they have become one of the leading causes of house fires. Candles are comforting, and this effect causes drowsiness in many people. You should never go to sleep while a candle is still burning, and they should only be burned on a sturdy, heat-resistant surface like ceramic tiles or products specifically made just for candles. You should never use a candle to check on a burned out pilot light or for a source of light around gasoline-powered equipment, such as in a garage.
Human error accounts for almost all fires, and this is especially true when it comes to cooking. Distractions are the leading cause of kitchen fires, and oil, fat, and grease were the leading factors contributing to most fires, coupled with leaving cooking vessels unattended. Another leading cause is combustible material being left too close to the burners on the stove, and flammable objects being tossed into the garbage can.
Unattended fire’s left in the fireplace and the lack of an inspection are the two main reasons that this type of fire begins in the first place. Cracks can go unnoticed in the chimney which runs the risk of a spark or flame entering the opening and starting a house fire. Another problem with chimneys is creosote, a hard tar-like substance that builds up over time. The chimney eventually becomes coated with creosote, making the fire extremely hot, which causes the walls or rafters to burst into flames almost effortlessly. Screens should be fitted into place to completely cover the opening to the fireplace as to avoid any stray sparks that may come into contact with flammable objects.
This type of heater is responsible for a large amount of deaths due to consumer ignorance. Many people mix kerosene with other fuels which spell disaster or they don’t use the proper blue container used for kerosene, opting instead for red gasoline containers. A mix of kerosene with only the smallest amount of gasoline will inevitably cause an explosion. You should never leave a kerosene heater unattended or go to bed with it left running. These type of heaters burn oxygen in the process of heating, so it is highly recommended that you purchase a carbon monoxide detector, because many of the deaths associated with these heaters are not from the fire itself, but instead occur from asphyxiation.
Overloading extension cords is the biggest reason that they become fire hazards, and you can usually feel the heat emanating from an overloaded cord. In this instance you should unplug everything, and replace the extension cord with one that can handle larger appliances. The most frequent cause of these fires is due to overheating, which occurs when appliances are connected to an extension cord that draw’s more power than the cord can handle. Read the label when you’re buying a new extension cord, as they carry valuable information about the use, size and wattage rating of the cord. Using an indoor extension cord outside could result in an electric shock or fire, so you should look for the UL Mark which means that the cord has been tested for safety hazards. Extension cords should be stored indoors when not in use as the elements from outside can deteriorate the cord over time. The most important thing is to unplug any extension cord when it is not in use, because it still conducts electricity until it is unplugged from the outlet.
Safety Facts for Extension Cords
Extension cords that are going to be used longer the a few weeks for appliances is not a safe idea. You may need to have an outlet installed to accommodate the excessive appliances being used by the extension cord. Another hazard is placing extension cords behind furniture or under carpets where they become out of sight, and out of mind. A hot cord cannot be detected under carpeting or behind furniture until it is too late.
This type of fire can be prevented from simply keeping the lint trap clean, and the dryer’s vent system. Other causes of dryer fires are the result of drying foam backed rugs not intended for high heat, drying clothes contaminated with flammable chemicals, over drying garments, or the consumer mistakenly uses plastic or vinyl exhaust materials for their vent system.
Gas and propane are the primary sources used in gas grills, and it is highly flammable. Most fires and explosions that occur with gas grills are when consumers first use their new grill, and it has been left idle for a period of time or just after refilling and reattaching the grill’s gas container. To reduce the risk of fire or explosion, you should routinely perform safety checks on the grill, and they should always be kept upright when storing them. Many accidents occurring with these grills occur when they are transported in a hot trunk of a car. The heat causes the gas pressure to increase, which may open the relief valve and allow gas to escape into the trunk
Dry, Unkept Weeds around the Home
Dry, unkept weeds, junipers and tree’s surrounding a home that is not properly pruned can be struck by lightning and ignite a wood frame home with relative ease, and burning dry weeds too close to a structure can quickly ignite a home in minutes leading to an out of control fire. Sudden wind is responsible for many of these out of control infernos.
Smoke detectors and Escape Routes
These can be life savers and should be installed throughout the home. You should replace the smoke detector’s batteries twice a year. It’s also not a bad idea to have an all-purpose fire extinguisher in your kitchen, one that is rated for grease and electrical fires. If you live in a two-story home, an alternate escape route should be decided in the event that the stairs may become blocked by fire. All members living in the house should know about all escape routes in the home and everyone should have a meeting place so that it is known that everyone has made it out safely.