You may think your home is completely safe, but there may some hidden dangers lurking around it. In fact, some of these hidden fire hazards you are not even aware of are known to cause thousands of home fires every year. Devices such as smoke detectors and fire sprinklers are a great and necessary safety measure that will alert you when there’s a fire, but wouldn’t you want to prevent that fire altogether?
Take a look at what some of the most dangerous fire hazards are so that you can keep an eye on them and try to prevent any possibility of a greater disaster.
1. Faulty Wiring and Loose Outlets
Wiring is usually located behind the walls in your home. You usually can’t even see it and therefore don’t pay much attention to it. However, faults in your wiring and electrical outlets have proven to be very dangerous, causing fatal fires.
There are two potential dangers with wiring that can occur: one is old wiring found in older houses, which needs to be replaced or fixed, and the other one you might cause yourself when you are driving screws into a wall, for example, or hanging a mirror, which can easily pierce your wires. Therefore, make sure to have an expert check your wiring and if you are doing some DIY home improvements around your home be careful when drilling through the walls and also consult with a professional if you are not sure where exactly the wires are located.
When it comes to outlets, they can wear and tear over time, so if you notice any faults make sure to replace them. You will notice that your outlet is not tight enough if the plug does not fit in securely and tightly and if it falls out at times. If the outlet wiggles and hangs a bit from your wall, it is also a sign that it needs to be replaced. These types of faults can cause the outlet to overheat and can lead to a fire.
2. Kitchen Fires
A great majority of home fires start in the kitchen – and they are not only caused by recklessness during cooking, but also by some very small and, at first glance, insignificant things such as crumbs in the toaster!
Many homes have a toaster and use it on a daily basis. When it is used so often and repeatedly, breadcrumbs are bound to pile up in it, being toasted over and over again. These crumbs and the dust from it can also pile up inside the toaster and there is your potential fire hazard.
This may simply cause some smoke coming out of the toaster at first, but the consequences may very well be much greater. The crumbs and dust may cause a spark in the toaster which can start a flame and catch on to other objects around. You can reduce the possibility of such fire by cleaning your toaster every day, or even after every use – it will take you only about a minute.
When it comes to cooking, most fires happen on stovetops and not in the oven, even though these can happen as well. When a fire in the kitchen is unattended it can catch on to other combustible objects around it, such as curtains, towels, cabinets, and similar items. The grease in the frying pan can also potentially ignite so you should be aware of that hazard as well and always stay in the kitchen while cooking.
In order to minimize the danger, don’t leave your cooking unattended, check for everything that is close to the fire and remove it, such as curtains hanging too close, cloths, towel racks, and even paper towel dispensers. If the fire starts in your frying pan and is caused by grease, never pour water on it as it can only increase it, but put it out with a fire extinguisher or simply put a lid on the pan to suffocate the fire.
3. Dryer Lint
Faulty appliances are also frequent causes of home fires and dryers, specifically, are responsible for 9 out of 10 of those fires. The lint from your clothes can get trapped and build up in your lint screen, in the ventilation system, near the motor or the heating elements. Heat builds up in the dryer during each normal cycle and if there is a greater amount of dry lint built up inside it, it may ignite and develop into a fire.
Make sure to inspect the testing label on your dryer (and on all of your appliances for that matter) in order to check when it was purchased, if it was purchased in safe working order, and if it may be time to replace it. Some of the older appliances may not even have such a label, so to be on the safe side, consider calling a professional to inspect it or replace it altogether.
Try to make a habit of cleaning your dryer on a regular basis, preferably even each time you use it. Clean out the lint screen and remove any lint from the ventilation to minimize any risk of fire. It may seem like a menial task, but you will have peace of mind knowing that you have saved yourself and your family from potential dangers and future aggravation.
4. Accumulated Debris in the Gutters
Cleaning your gutters from leaves and debris is very important for more reasons than one. Not only can they cause great damages to your home in terms of leaks and mold, for example, but they can also be a dangerous fire hazard. This may be the most unexpected fire hazard for some people, as you usually expect it to be somewhere inside your home. But the fire can also start from the outside.
Leaves, branches, pine needles, and other debris that accumulates in your gutters can be great fuel for a fire and therefore pose a great danger. If you live in an area that is prone to bush or wildfires it is especially dangerous, but even smaller things such as barbecue grills, backyard fire pits, or a fire from the neighbor’s house or backyard can produce a spark that lands in your gutters and ignites the leaves. When the temperatures are high or during droughts the debris can get very dry and a single small spark could set it on fire.
Preventing such fire hazards is as simple as cleaning your gutters on a regular basis. Inspect them from time to time to see if there is any debris build-up and make sure to remove it. Cleaning your gutters is recommended at least twice a year, every spring and fall, and it is best to do it during dry weather, not immediately after a storm, for example. If you let it dry for a bit, the debris will not be as heavy and the entire process will be less messy.
All in all, it is important to make a habit of inspecting your home from time to time. Don’t overlook the wear and tear on your outlets and make sure your electrical appliances are functioning safely and properly. Kitchens are some of the most common sources of home fires, so simply make sure that everything is always neat, don’t leave items, especially very inflammable ones, near the stove, and never leave a working stove unattended.
When it comes to additional safety, every home should have a smoke alarm, which doubles the chances of surviving a fire if it occurs. However, a faulty smoke alarm or detector is also in a way a fire hazard, because if it doesn’t go off it cannot warn you there’s a fire. Therefore, make sure to inspect it regularly as well, test it once a month and change the batteries every six months.