June 12, 2023
A house fire can happen seemingly out of nowhere and spread quickly. Kitchen fires and electrical fires are the most common. You also need to be aware of other hazards that can cause house fires, like smoking, candles, flammable liquids, lint in the dryer vent, and BBQing.
The kitchen is the most common place in the home for fires to originate. There is grease, heat, electricity, and water all in the same room and there are several ways in which a fire can start.
Grease fires happen when a frying pan is overheated or left unattended. A grease fire can spread quickly, especially if you try to put it out with water.
Keeping anything flammable near the stove can quickly start a fire in your kitchen. Keep dish towels, wrappers, oven mitts, cardboard, and other items a safe distance away from a hot element.
Did you know that accidental property damage caused by a fire is usually covered by your home insurance policy? Get the details from your Western Coast home insurance expert.
If a kitchen appliance comes into contact with water, a fire can start. Be careful to use appliances correctly and away from water.
Leaving the kitchen while you are cooking can start a fire if the oven, toaster, or toaster oven is turned up too high. Do not leave home even for a few minutes when you are cooking and do not get distracted with multitasking. Be extra careful if your kids are helping, so they do not make a mistake like putting metal in the microwave and starting a fire.
Electricity is another common fire hazard. Electrical fires can start in a few ways.
BBQ season is here and cooking on a grill is something to look forward to in the summer. But do not make the mistake of putting your BBQ or fire pit close to the house, a fence, or vinyl siding. These could easily catch fire. Portable heaters are also a common cause of house fires and are just as dangerous if used incorrectly outdoors. If you have a heater outside so you can BBQ when it is still a bit chilly, never leave it unattended and make sure it is not near anything flammable. keep BBQs and heaters at least 10 feet away from structures and trees.
Lint accumulates in the lint trap and vent of your dryer and can create a fire hazard. Clean out the lint trap every time you use the dryer and use a lint brush occasionally. The duct vent can also become filled with lint, especially if it has a flexible, accordion-type hose. If your laundry is taking too long to dry, the vent pipe could have an accumulation of lint. Unplug the dryer, disconnect the dryer duct from the back, and clean it out or call a professional.
Always supervise your kids when they are helping in the kitchen or by the BBQ and make sure they cannot access matches or lighters. Teach them about kitchen safety and not to cook without an adult around.
Partially extinguished cigarette butts are one of the most common home fire hazards. Fires can start when cigarette butts are thrown over a balcony in hot and dry weather. Putting cigarettes out in a planter is also dangerous because potting soil is drier and more fibrous and natural soil and the whole planter could ignite.
Candles present the same type of fire hazard. Never leave them unattended and make sure they are away from flammable materials and there is no breeze or draft. Have something under them to catch melting wax.
Paint, jerry cans, or solvents can spontaneously combust in a hot garage. If the outside air is 35 degrees Celsius, the inside of the garage can be 40 or 45 degrees. When flammable liquids combine with oxygen at their flashpoint, they form gas that could combust. Some tools can also create sparks that ignite these gasses.
Water can make some fires worse. Here is what to do for each kind of fire. If a fire gets out of control, call 911.
Do not try to extinguish an electrical fire with water because water is a conductor. If an appliance is on fire, unplug it if you can do so safely. Put out small fires with baking soda. Use a Class C or ABC Class fire extinguisher for electrical fires. Other classes could conduct electricity.
Never put water on a grease fire because it can make the grease explode and spread. Cover the fire with a metal lid or smother it with baking soda or salt. You can also use a Class B dry chemical fire extinguisher.
If a flammable liquid like gasoline, paint, alcohol, or propane, catches fire, extinguish it with a blanket or with a Class B fire extinguisher, which uses carbon dioxide, foam, or powder.
Keeping safety precautions in mind can help you prevent a fire.