Fire Prevention: Fire Safety in the Home

Fire hazards exist in just about every room in your home, including attics and outdoor barbecues. Fires can be caused from not properly extinguishing cigarettes, overloaded electrical sockets, faulty wiring, leaving food that is cooking unattended, improper fireplace maintenance, and faulty electrical appliances. This article will discuss how to avoid the most common causes of fires in the home and help you become aware of prevention tools you can use.

According to the Phoenix Fire Department, in order to understand the dangers of fires in homes, you must first understand the nature of fire. “Fire occurs any time four elements are present–fuel, heat, oxygen, and the chemical chain reaction. When these four elements are together, fire occurs. If any one element is removed, fire is prevented.”

One of the most common causes of fires in the home is due to the failure of properly putting out cigarettes and cigars. Smoking in bed is never recommended, and that’s not because of the health issues associated with smoking. It is not uncommon for fires to happen when someone falls asleep on a couch or in their bed, while smoking a cigarette. So if you are a smoker, and you’re tired, try not to light-up if there is a chance you might fall asleep.

Overloading an electrical socket is another frequent cause for firefighters to visit a home, especially in older homes with wiring that is not up to code. Overloading an electrical socket can cause a spark inside the wall igniting the insulation; creating an extremely difficult fire to battle once started. Remember not to plug too many appliances that use a lot of electricity, into the same outlet; and always follow manufacturers’ suggested usage for multiple input power strips.

A good chef never leaves his or her cooking unattended, but the truth is that this does happen. Sometimes we get sidetracked and completely forget that we have a dish on the stove or a steak on the grill. Fortunately, if you have a smoke detector located in the kitchen, you will be made aware of a fire before it has a chance to spread. So be sure to have a smoke detector installed in your kitchen, if you don’t already have one, and also be sure to test the batteries at least twice a year.

Often in the winter time, many homeowners will light their fireplace and burn chopped wood for extra warmth. If doing so, have a fire screen set up to prevent sparks from shooting out and landing on something potentially flammable–i.e. a rug or carpet. If left unattended and without a fire screen, a fire in the fireplace can be extremely hazardous.

Every year there are multiple recalls for electrical appliances, many of which are due to a fire safety issue. When making large purchases, particularly for items that use a lot of energy–washer, dryer, stove, etc., you should try to read consumer reports and check for any recalls; especially if buying any of these high energy use items secondhand. Older dryers, above all, are known to be a major cause of household fires. Make sure that you always spend your money wisely and do your homework when shopping for high energy use appliances.

A fire in the home is more often than not caused due to carelessness. Always be aware of fire dangers and don’t allow those hazards to be left unaddressed. Install fire-alarms throughout every room in your house; including in the garage, attic, and within close proximity of your outdoor grill. Don’t leave food unattended while cooking and have a fire screen ready should your burning wood, in your fireplace, begin to spark outward. For more information on fire prevention, visit the National Fire Protection Association or contact your local fire department.