See “The 4 Biggest Fire Starters” for the companion list.
Fire safety should be a high priority when starting a home, especially when you have small children. The last thing you want is to be figuring out how much your insurance will cover for damages, or worse, mourning the death of a family member. Knowing what can cause a fire is the first step in knowing how to prevent said fire. With 84% of fire deaths occurring in home fires and $11.6 billion worth of damage caused by fire in 2014, this is not something to take lightly. Here are four more fire starters:
About 282,000 intentional fires were reported during 2007-2011, resulting in 420 civilian deaths, 1,360 civilian injuries, and $1.3 billion in property damage annually. Even though 75% of these fires were started outdoors, most of the casualties and property damage were caused by structure fires. Intentional fires within the home are most likely to be set between 3 pm and 12 am. The number one area in the home where the intentional fires originate from is the bedroom, while the leading areas in public properties are in bathrooms (in places like stores, schools, and offices).
Did you know that fire departments responded to 47,820 electrical failure/malfunction fires per year between 2007 and 2011? They resulted in 455 civilian deaths, 1,518 injuries, and $1.5 billion in property damage. Around half of these fires were caused by electrical distribution or lighting equipment. Many of these fires were caused by washers, dryers (see below), and space heaters. There is quite a bit that can be done to make your home safer from these kinds of fires. Here are a few safety tips: Make sure all damaged or loose electrical cords are replaced or repaired. If you have small children, make sure your home has tamper-resistant receptacles. Do not run your extension cords under carpets or across doorways. Have an electrician install additional outlets so you do not need to use extension cords. See “What Causes Electrical Fires and How to Prevent Them” for a more comprehensive list of these tips.
Birthdays, holidays, romance. There are many reasons to use candles. The question is, how safe are you when using them? Are you keeping them a safe distance from anything flammable? Do you make sure to not leave them lit unattended? About one-third of home candle fires from 2009-2013 started in the bedroom. We can assume that those are generally from someone making a romantic gesture. The bedroom is full of linens, i.e. flammable materials. These bedroom fires caused 32% of the associated deaths and 47% of the injuries. Eleven percent of these bedroom fires were caused by “falling asleep,” i.e. leaving the candles unattended. The peak time of year for these fires is December, and that makes sense, as there are decorations being hung and holiday candles being lit. Make sure to blow out all candles when leaving a room where they are lit. Keep lit candles twelve inches minimum from anything flammable. We will cover many more tips about candle fire safety in a future blog post.
Dryers and Washing Machines
Almost 17,000 fires reported in 2010 involved clothes dryers or washing machines. These fires resulted in 51 deaths, 380 injuries, and $236 million in property damage. Most of these fires (92%) were caused by dryers. The number one cause of these fires was failing to clean (maintain) the machine, followed by mechanical failure or malfunction, and then electrical failure or malfunction. There is equal risk for gas-fueled and electric powered dryers. Make sure to have a professional install and do maintenance on your washer and dryer. Having a lint filter is ESSENTIAL. Lastly clean the lint filter BEFORE and AFTER each laundry load, as well as remove the lint that collected around the drum.
Knowing the proper way to have a fire-safe environment at home mitigates the risk of your home going up in flames. Make sure to take any and all precautions, because when it comes to fire safety, you can never be too careful.