14 Potential Fire Hazards in Your Home
House fires are more common than you may realize, with potential fire starters like light bulbs, laptops and lint traps hiding in plain sight throughout your home, disguised as harmless everyday necessities.
Are you guilty of these bad habits that could start a fire in your home?
Misusing Electric Blankets: A warm and cozy electric blanket is a welcome comfort in the winter but, it also poses a potential fire hazard. Never allow pets to snuggle on top and don't pile extra covers over the electric blanket. Excessive heat build-up may lead to a fire. Never bend the coils, always keep your blanket at its lowest setting and always turn it off in the morning.
Piling up dirty rags: A wood stain may be the perfect finishing touch on a DIY project, but later on, that pile of oil-soaked rags you tossed in the corner could trigger the perfect storm. Those rags are a very real fire hazard if left unattended. The rags could oxidize and spontaneously combust, causing a house or building fire. Two proper ways to dispose of oily rags are to lay them flat outside to dry or to put them in a metal can filled with water and a tight fitting lid.
Neglecting appliance recalls: Home appliances have caused an estimated 150,000 fires each year, just during the last decade! A significant number of these were caused by faulty appliances. You can visit www.recalls.gov or register your appliance with the manufacturer to keep on top of recalls and prevent disaster.
Lingering dryer lint: We're sure you know emptying the lint screen increases your dryer's efficiency, but did you know that lint is flammable? The combination of lint buildup and excessive heat is a recipe for disaster. Make sure to clean the interior of the dryer frame as well as the dryer vent and exhaust duct regularly to clear away lint and clogs and to reduce the risk of fire.
Letting your laptop overheat: If you own a laptop, you know how hot it can get. Leaving your computer on your bed, chair, rug or another soft flammable surface, you increase the risk of restricting airflow through the cooling vents. This can cause your laptop to overheat and possibly catch fire. Keeping your laptop on a desk or table will help prevent fires.
Choosing the wrong wattage: If you've ever thought "It's okay to use this 60-watt bulb in this 40-watt socket" you're not alone. However, you are putting your home at risk. A leading cause of electrical fires is using a light bulb with a wattage that is too high for a lamp or light fixture. Always check the light fixture's maximum wattage and never go over the recommended rating.
Using too many extension cords: Extension cords are meant to be a temporary response to a lack of electrical outlets, not a permanent solution. The reason why is this: connecting a large number of cords for a significant amount of time causes an overload that will lead to a short circuit - which could start a fire. Hiring a qualified electrician to install additional outlets could help you avoid this problem altogether.
a Americans will spend about $200 billion fixing up their homes this year and nearly a fifth of that will go toward DIY projects. Jobs involving electrical wiring, plumbing and HVAC units should never be completed without a qualified professional. Gas leaks and electrical sparks result from improper installation and are a common cause of house fires. Hire a licensed professional instead of attempting dangerous DIYs on your own to avoid putting your family and home at risk.
Disregarding dust: Built-up dust can be a fire hazard if it collects in and around electrical sockets, electronics, and even floor heaters. Vacuuming regularly, especially behind electronics, will significantly reduce the chance of dust particles catching fire.
Improperly storing batteries: Storing 9-volt batteries in your kitchen junk drawer might be putting your home and family at risk. When loose batteries roll around with other metals such as paper clips or screws, the two terminals could short out, possibly generating enough heat to ignite flammables nearby. If storing the batteries in the original package isn't an option, place a piece of electrical tape over the terminal to prevent this possibility.
Ignoring unwanted guests: Rodents like mice and rats like to chew on electrical wires to control the length of their teeth. Over time, they can remove the sheathing; this leaves the wires exposed. The electrical current traveling through the wire generates heat and if the wire is exposed this could lead to sparks, which in turn could ignite the surrounding surface. Call an exterminator if you suspect you have rodents.
Forgetting the chimney sweep: There are common causes of chimney fires, such as dead birds, raccoon nests, cracked mortar, and built-up creosote. The National Fire Protection Assoc. recommends a professional chimney sweep at least once a year. Also, when building a fire in your fireplace, never light it with kerosene. Always use an approved fire starter.
Overlooking the range hood: Ovens and cooktops are the most common sources of kitchen fires. But, range hoods are also a potential threat. Grease builds up over time and can drip down onto the cooktop, possibly starting a fire. These flames could easily reach your cabinets and before you know it your kitchen could be engulfed. Regularly clean and maintain your range hood to keep your kitchen out of harm's way.
Unwisely arranging furniture: Furniture placed too close to a wood stove could spontaneously ignite. Pyrolysis is the chemical decomposition of a combustible item. This occurs when an object is continually exposed to a heat source and dries out. This leading, yet seldom considered, cause of fires doesn't even require a direct flame. It only takes heat and time.
If you find yourself in need of restoration after a fire, call SERVPRO of Eaton County, Clinton and Gratiot Counties, Lansing & Holt. We are available 24/7-365