Preventing Fire in Your Home: Fire Hazards to Look Out For

House Burning Down
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Every 24 seconds a fire department in the US responds to a fire. Home insurance, condo, and renters insurance cover you for many risks, one of the most basic coverages is for fire damage. According to the National Fire Protection Association, there were 23 billion dollars in damages paid due to fire losses in 2017, of these, the Insurance Information Institute reports that 10.7 billion were not related to wildfire insurance claims. Preventing a fire in your home is important for old and new homeowners alike, the good news is that some of the most basic fires can be prevented by following some standard homeowner tips. Taking the steps to prevent a fire from starting in your home may also make you eligible for more home insurance discounts saving you money long term by reducing the overall cost of home insurance while keeping your family safe. 

9 Tips to Prevent Fire In Your Home: Hazards To Look Out For

  • Never leave food unattended while cooking. Cooking is one of the top causes of home fires. Burning food can also cause smoke damage. If you aren’t in the kitchen, turn off the elements and be cautious when cooking with grease or oils.
  • Make sure to keep your dryer filter clean and do an annual or regular maintenance of the vents that the dryer exhaust uses. Blockages in the vents or build up in the filter can cause a fire.

There are approximately 172,100 fires related to cooking equipment per year, 13,000 fires related to washer/dryer on average per year, and 8,200 fires related to candles in the home per year.

  • Beware of leaving lights on in your home when you are not there or be sure not to use the wrong wattage light bulb. Certain lamps or light fixtures may catch fire if they become too hot. People often assume leaving lights on is safer to make a home look lived in, but lighting can cause fires if the materials around the light bulb are flammable and the light bulb gets too hot.
  • Fireplace safety: If you have a chimney, be sure and have it cleaned frequently. When a chimney isn’t cleaned, it can start to accumulate creosote. The creosote is extremely flammable and can cause a chimney fire. Chimneys may also attract birds or other small creatures who can try and build nests with flammable materials. A chimney cleaning and regular inspection will help prevent fires caused by these two hazards.

When cleaning out the ash in the chimney, always remember to put it in a fireproof container. Embers can burn unnoticed for long periods of time, and may cause fires for days after the original fire burned.

  • If you are buying a new house, or have been in your house for a while and haven’t updated your wiring, be sure to have it checked by an electrician. Older homes are at risk of fire when the electrical wiring is not up to date. Some home insurance companies may even require that electrical wiring be updated if they find old wiring during a home inspection. Knob and tube wiring, aluminum wiring, old fuse boxes or damaged wires and outlets can all lead to sudden and devastating house fires. Some insurance companies may even cancel your insurance for not updating or doing repairs if they suspect a potential wiring risk. Always use a certified professional or electrician to do electrical work, it may be tempting to DIY, but it is not worth the risk.
  • Be careful with your electrical and extension cords. Plugging too many items in one outlet can overload the circuitry. Using damaged cords can also cause fires. We have all been in a situation where we don’t have enough plugs, or need to use an extension cord to plug something in. Make sure your extension cords are not overloading your system, and that they are carrying the electrical load they are designed to carry. Purchase the right kind of cords depending on the use, such as indoors or outdoors.
  • Candles cause thousands of home fires a year, consider using battery operated candles to avoid fire risk. When using candles with real flames, be sure and always keep them in rooms where there are people present to keep an eye out if something goes wrong. Clear the immediate surroundings from any flammable materials, including curtains, table decorations, walls, and shelves. Make sure that the candles are on (or in) fireproof candleholders and not on a flammable surface.
  • Beware of the placement of space heaters and heaters that use coils to create warmth. Having a cozy home can be challenging when the weather gets too cold. Don’t use these types of heating unsupervised, and make sure they are not near anything that can catch fire. Follow the manufacturer's directions to keep your home safe.
  • Make sure your home is equipped with smoke alarms, and check the batteries regularly. 40% of fire fatalities are in homes with no smoke alarms

Top 3 Causes of Home Fires

These are the leading causes of home fires:

  1. Cooking Related 48%
  2. Heating Related 15%
  3. Electrical Distribution and Lighting 10%

When Do Home Fires Occur?

Most fires occur between November and March, with the highest percentage incidents in January. Fire alarm times studied over time show that most fire alarms are between noon and 10 pm, so the statistics on leading causes of home fires, aren’t surprising and often happen when people are home. By using good fire prevention and maintaining your home with our 9 tips to prevent fire above, many of these fires can be avoided.