10 Unforeseen Fire Hazards: Home Edition

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Most people know better than to leave a candle or stove top unattended in their homes – it’s just common fire safety sense. Did you know that there are some other, less-obvious ways your home could be at risk of fires? Check out this list of common fire hazards in the home that you may not have considered:

Clothing.

Stacking those wool sweaters too high in your closet and allowing them to touch a light source is a major fire hazard. If the material gets too hot, it can catch fire and set everything around it ablaze. Keep your highest piece of clothing at least 8 inches from a light source. The same goes for linen closets, too.

Dust.

It’s common for homes to have a little dust build-up from time to time, but letting too much time go between dusting sessions can be dangerous. Those seemingly innocent dust bunnies are fire hazards when they are close to light or heat sources. Do yourself a favor and set a reminder to dust (every week or so), especially around areas exposed to heat and light.

Electrical wiring.

Some of the biggest fire dangers in your home are the ones that you cannot see. Most people aren’t really sure how to check the safety of their household wiring, so it’s important to have a licensed electrician do an inspection every other year or so. Even people who do not know much about wiring can examine their sockets and plugs for common signs of damage. There is even a free mobile app from Electrical Safety First that will walk you step-by-step through what to look for in your home. You should also know how to inspect your fire extinguisher, and do so once per month.

Appliances.

Stacked clothing, papers, and other items like blankets near appliances lead to 7 percent of all home fires every year, and 4 percent of deaths caused by home fires. Make sure no items are ever touching your appliances, especially appliances in garages or basements like hot water heaters.

Laptop computers.

Have you ever been working on your laptop and felt it heat up? All computers have small motors and the older they get, the faster they get hot. That’s why it is important to always store your laptop on a desk or table, and never on a couch or bed. If the vents meant to keep it cool are blocked, it can overheat the device and lead to a fire.

Toaster crumbs.

Be sure to clean out the tray of your toaster or the bottom of your toaster oven before each use. Hard, toasted bread or bagel crumbs are extremely flammable and can do more than simply set off your smoke detector. Take the necessary precautions.

Paper.

Try to avoid large stacks of paper just sitting out in your home. Items like newspapers can catch fire if they are too close to a heat source. It’s important to file away important documents and bills, and shred the materials that you know you will not need. Don’t like to get rid of your paperwork? Invest in a scanner that saves things to an electronic file instead, and then shred the originals.

Dryer lint.

Lint in your clothing dryer is a real cause for concern when it comes to fires in the home; ABC News reports that 15,000 home fires are sparked each year because of built-up dryer lint. Make it habit to clean out the lint trap of your dryer every single time you use it.

Heated hair styling devices.

Most people know not to leave the iron on unattended, but oftentimes, we aren’t as vigilant with heated hair styling tools. Left on too close to bathroom towels or clothing, these devices can start a fire that quickly moves to the rest of the house.

Vases.

A glass vase in the window may look picturesque but it is actually a magnifying device. If the sun reflects off the glass and onto a curtain or couch, it could start a fire. Keep vases away from direct sunlight just to be safe.

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