You know the obvious fire hazards in your home, such as your stove or heater. But can you spot the lesser-known risks? Because house fires can happen in any room of your home (at any time of the day or night), it’s important that you’re prepared. Our experts have compiled 14 common home fire hazards to help you take preventative action now.
Add protection and peace of mind by exploring 14 home fire hazards and how you can prevent them.
- Ovens and stoves. Cooking-related incidents are a leading cause of home fires … especially when appliances like ovens or stoves are involved. Always stay in the kitchen when cooking. If something is in the oven, don’t leave the house. If there is anything on the stove, clear items such as dishtowels or oven mitts that could catch fire. Clean both the oven and the hob frequently so that grease and oils do not build up and lead to flames.
- toasters. While today’s toasters come with anti-jam and automatic shut-off features, they can fail if they don’t work. When you are not using a toaster, unplug it. As toasters can also emit excess heat, it is best to place them away from the upper cupboard when in use. In addition, clean the toaster regularly by removing old crumbs that can spark easily.
- Microwave ovens. Make sure everyone in your household is aware of items that cannot go in the microwave, such as aluminum foil, utensils, metal or stainless steel items, Styrofoam and other fire hazards. Also, if you’re shopping for a new microwave, look for one with the label from an independent testing laboratory. That way, when you fill out and return the product registration card, the manufacturer can reach you if there is a recall that you should be aware of.
- Dishwashers. Every dishwasher goes through a cycle of heating and cooling, and it can catch fire if something goes wrong during one of these steps. It may seem harmless to turn on the dishwasher before you leave the house or go to bed, but it’s better to ride a bike when you’re nearby to keep an eye on it.
- Electric blankets. Heating pads and electric blankets cause approximately 500 home fires each year. Never plug heated enclosures into an extension cord and always be awake and alert while using them. Buy the items only from reputable retailers with products that have been tested and approved for safety.
- Space heater. Space heaters lead to 25,000 residential fires annually. Follow our five space heater safety tips to protect your space, such as setting up the heater on a flat surface and creating a radius of at least three feet around the heat source.
- Flat iron/curling iron. Hair tools such as straighteners and curling irons can reach temperatures up to 450°F. Reduce the risk of fire by turning them off or unplugging them after use (but wait until they have cooled completely before putting them away). Also, choose devices with automatic shut-off in case you forget to unplug them.
- Glass decor. Here’s a lesser-known risk: Glass decor displayed near a window can actually soak up the sun and amplify its warmth on a nearby rug or curtain. On summer days, make sure your glass doesn’t get too hot. If it feels warm to the touch, gently move it away from the window.
- Dust. Did you know dust is flammable? When there is an accumulation of dust around an outlet, it can catch fire. Reduce the risk by vacuuming around all outlets regularly.
- Dryer. What is the leading cause of dryer fires? Forgot to clean them. Empty your lint filter before or after each wash. And once or twice a year, take the vacuum hose to it. If you need a reminder to clean the lint trap after a load, post a note on the dryer door and place a small trash can next to your machine.
- Light. Never leave candles unattended and blow them out before going to bed. Keep candles out of the reach of children or pets and away from anything that can burn. Extinguish your flames when only ½ inch of wax remains. Otherwise, the candle can crack and spill the contents.
- Cords. If you can see the wires on the cord of an appliance or device, there is a risk. Replace any cords that are not fully intact. Having exposed wires or frayed cords near curtains, carpets or rugs can also be a major fire hazard.
- Power strips. Do not overload outlets with extension cords, power strips or plug adapters. Avoid using power strips whenever possible, and instead plug items directly into a wall outlet.
- TV sets. With risks such as overheating and electrical malfunctions, televisions are on the list of home fire hazards. To avoid these dangerous situations, you should regularly inspect the cords and ensure that there is proper ventilation around your TV. Turn off the TV when not in use and never leave it on overnight.
Now that you’ve learned 14 home fire hazards, take the next step to protect your loved ones and your space. Talk to a local, independent agent about homeowner’s insurance. Our experts make sure you have the coverage you need or help customize your insurance to give you even more peace of mind.