There’s absolutely no question that fires are lethal. The National Fire Protection Association in the United States claim that fire departments responded to almost 370,000 household fires in 2013 which caused $7 billion in damages (reference). Every household should be fully aware of the various evacuation routes in the event of a fire, and they should be practiced at least yearly. Fire safety and protection is an extremely important topic so it’s crucial to understand what the most common types of household fires are and how to prevent them. Most of us will be surprised at how easy fires can start, and a simple mistake can lead to deadly consequences. So to give you some insight in how to keep you and your family safe at home, here’s an overview of the 4 most common types of household fires.
Kitchen Stoves And Cooktops
The most common types of household fires are caused by kitchen stoves and cooktops. Open fires and very hot surfaces present dangerous situations where fires can easily start so you must exercise extreme caution when cooking, especially around children. Grease fires are also common when cooking, but are a different kind of fire and extinguishing them is much more difficult. It’s essential that you never leave the stove unattended and ensure that electrical cords, tea towels, oven cloths, and curtains are at a safe distance from the stove. You’ll also want to be careful that you’re not wearing baggy clothing or long sleeves where open fires can reach them.
The second most common cause of household fires are heating units, which can ignite due to faulty motors that are dirty or overheat, or flammable material that is too close to the heating unit. It’s crucial that you inspect and clean your heating unit and/or chimney by a qualified technician at least annually. A good rule of thumb is to keep portable heating units at least one metre away from any flammable material and always remember to turn off your portable heater once you leave the room. It’s also essential that children and pets are closely supervised when heating units are on and never use heating units to dry clothes or shoes.
Any type of equipment that conducts electricity is susceptible to fire. According to a recent study, 9% of household fires are caused by electrical equipment (reference) which can easily be prevented by following some simple steps. You’ll want to ensure that electrical equipment doesn’t have any loose or frayed cords or plugs. Also, make sure that your outlets aren’t overloaded with plugs and you’re not placing electrical wires under rugs or furniture. If you’re wanting to install additional electrical outlets at home, always get a qualified electrician to do the job for you.
Furthermore, electrical equipment like clothes dryers are also susceptible to fires so always clean the lint after each load and avoid putting bras in the clothes dryer as the underwire contains metal and can get caught and start a fire. In regards to electric blankets, do not sleep with them on and always turn them off when you leave the house. It’s a smart idea to have your electric blanket checked by a licensed repairman if you suspect any kind of overheating and always follow the manufacturer’s instructions for recommended storage and care.
I’ve seen plenty of movies where one of the characters falls asleep whilst smoking. If you haven’t, it’s pretty obvious what happens next. To minimise the risk of fires caused by cigarettes, never smoke in your bedroom, be very careful with smokers who are drinking alcohol (and make sure they extinguish their cigarettes), use deep ashtrays and never position an ashtray near any flammable material, and regularly check furniture for fallen cigarettes or embers when people are intoxicated in your house. Sometimes a cigarette butt can take several hours before it ignites and causes nearby material to catch fire.
There are many more common causes of household fires than those listed above. Faulty wiring, flammable liquids, lighting, and candles are other examples that can be hazardous if not managed properly. And even if you follow the above instructions to try to minimise the risk of household fires, sometimes they can just happen, so it’s imperative that you have a range of home fire extinguishers located in areas of your house that are susceptible to fires. For more information on the different types of home fire extinguishers and their applications, visit https://www.kingfire.com.au/