We’ve all heard the common causes of household fires: accidents while cooking, matches and lighters in the wrong hands, lint accumulation in the dryer and so on. However, fires are often unpredictable, and they can ignite in bizarre ways. Find out what unusual fire hazards may be in your home and take action to protect yourself and your possessions today.
Home Fire Safety: Hazards to Avoid
1. Products recalled because of a fire hazard
One of the best ways you can promote fire safety in the home is to periodically keep an eye on the Consumer Product Safety Commission website to make sure you don’t have products recalled for a fire hazard. Common recalled items are:
• Indoor generators
• Clothing washers and dryers
• Computer batteries
2. Loose Outlets
When you plug something in to an outlet in your home, do you notice the cords falling out easily? This may seem like an annoyance, but it could be part of a larger problem – according to This Old House, the blades inside electrical outlets loosen over time. Loose blades can generate intense heat and lead to fires. If you notice that your plugs don’t fit snugly, replace and avoid this common fire hazard.
3. Excess Sawdust
Sawdust doesn’t look very dangerous, but any DIY-er knows that it collects quickly when working on a project. Sawdust accumulates fast, and is highly combustible when left on surfaces. Regularly clean work surfaces with a vacuum designed to collect combustible dust, or install a good dust collection system in work areas.
4. Non-dairy coffee creamer
Several food items are highly flammable, and non-dairy coffee creamer is one of them. The powdered substance can become flammable when dispersed, so keep this away from open flames to avoid a disaster at the breakfast table.
5. Nail polish remover
Acetone, commonly known as nail polish remover, is also highly flammable. Combustible liquids, like nail polish remover, don't actually catch fire themselves. Rather, the vapors they give off are flammable. Nail polish remover should not be used near open flames, outlets or any other place where sparks can occur.
6. A dangerous combination of bathroom chemicals
Bathroom chemicals can easily become a fire risk and should be kept to a minimum in your household. The combination of ammonia, household bleach, and acid-based cleaners can cause toxic vapor clouds that can combust, causing internal burning of the lung lining and more.
7. 9-volt batteries
Be sure to store and dispose of 9-volt batteries safely. Even if you place the batteries in a separate bag to be recycled, you could still be creating a fire risk. When 9-volt batteries touch metal in the garbage can or while rolling around in your junk drawer, they can spark, igniting fires.
8. Vintage appliances
Vintage style is making a big comeback, and there are many classic treasures to be found at garage sales or hidden away in your parents’ attic. It’s important to remember, that old-fashioned appliances were made following outdated safety standards, and time has probably taken its toll on the wiring. Closely inspect all plug-ins and wires on old products, and don’t risk keeping them in your home if things don’t look right.
9. Materials placed near a fireplace
This one may seem like common sense, but it’s easy to think that as long as items are not in contact with an open flame, they are safe. However, just constantly being near the heat can cause materials to break down and become combustible, a process known as pyrolysis. This type of fire doesn’t need flames or sparks to ignite.
10. Bird nests on outdoor lights
Some people don’t consider the things right outside their homes like house lights to cause fires. Surprisingly, there have been cases of houses catching fire after bird nests sitting on top of outdoor lights became combustible from the heat of the light bulbs. The next time you’re doing yard work, take the time to take a quick peek at any outdoor light bulbs to ensure there’s nothing nearby that could catch fire, such as branches, leaves and yes, even bird nests.
11. Glass or crystal decor
Although unusual, it is possible for glass or crystal items in your home to be the hidden cause of a fire. Depending on how sunny it gets outside, glass ornaments that are in direct sunlight can potentially reflect highly-concentrated beams of light into the home, starting fires.
12. Leaky or old dishwashers
One of the most common causes of house fires are appliances, but you may not realize that a leaky dishwasher could be the culprit. If leaking water gets into the heating element or electrical components, it is possible for a fire to ignite.
According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, there are nearly 500 fires each year caused by faulty dishwashers. Clothes dryers are even a bigger risk, causing 2,900 fires a year.
13. Linseed oil
If you’ve recently completed a few home improvement projects, you may have linseed oil laying around the house. This product is often used to polish wood furnishings, and when left on a rag, it can spontaneously combust. Instead of tossing used rags in the corner with your other project supplies, take the time to dispose of them properly right away.
Quick Home Fire Safety Tips
Once you’ve addressed the fire risks and hazards in your home, use this checklist to take your home fire safety one step further to protect your family and possessions.
• Store important documents such as birth certificates, passports, and social security cards in a fireproof safe.
• Have a fire escape plan and practice it! Practice escaping from your home at least twice a year and at different times of the day.
• Test smoke alarms twice a month and replace the batteries every six months.
• Do not sleep with portable heaters on.
• Keep pets off cooking surfaces and countertops to prevent them from knocking things onto the burner.
Protect Your Home
There are many things you can do to help prevent house fires, but you never know when the unexpected will strike. That’s where a Farm Bureau agent steps in. Connect with a Farm Bureau agent to help ensure your home is protected.