Over the years, we’ve made great progress in reducing the occurrence of home fires. According to the National Fire Protection Association, home fires today occur at only about half the rate that they occurred in 1980.
That’s the good news.
The bad news is that when home fires do occur, they’re just as deadly as they’ve ever been. The average number of deaths that occur statistically for each home fire has remained about the same over the years.
Also unchanged is the fact that some of the causes of house fires perennially remain the same. And many of the causes of deadly house fires come down to simple, habitual carelessness.
Are you routinely flirting with disaster through any of these dangerous habits?
- Leaving Appliances Running Unattended. It’s likely that nearly everyone is guilty of this dangerous habit. But leaving a large appliance running unattended is risky. Though they seem ultra-reliable these days, fires that start from appliances like dishwashers, washing machines, and dryers are still common causes of house fires. That’s why experts advise that you stay home and stay awake when running a large appliance.
- Overtaxing Extension Cords and Power Strips. It’s so easy to do – lots easier than running another extension cord to plug-in that extra item. But overburdened extension cords continue to be a major cause of home fires. The best way to avoid this danger? Simply avoid the routine use of extension cords. Plugging devices directly into the wall is much safer.
- Ignoring Chimneys. Does your home have a fireplace? If so, you should make it a habit to routinely have the chimney professionally cleaned and inspected. To keep your fireplace safe, the National Fire Protection Association recommends a yearly chimney checkup and cleaning.
- Kitchen Carelessness. More home fires start in the kitchen than anywhere else. And the number one cause of kitchen fires? Leaving cooking food unattended. That applies to the microwave, too – a source of many home fires. Be careful about the clothing you wear in the kitchen, too. 15% of cooking-fire-related deaths occur from baggy or floppy clothing (like open bathrobe sleeves) catching fire.
- Candle Carelessness. The risk of burning a candle in the home is obvious: it’s an open flame. And yet candles cause deadly home fires with great regularity. To reduce the risk, never place a burning candle within a foot of anything flammable. Never leave a burning candle unattended. And make sure that candles fit snugly in candleholders, and that candleholders are placed on a stable surface.
- Space Heater Neglect. A third of all home fires are caused by space heaters. You can reduce the risk by assuring that your space heater is kept away from anything combustible. And when you purchase a space heater, spend the extra necessary to buy a model that will shutdown automatically if it overheats, or if it is tipped.
- Cigarette Carelessness. Everyone knows about the dangers that cigarettes pose to your health. That’s why cigarette use has steadily declined in recent decades. But even though fewer people smoke these days, cigarettes remain the number one cause of deaths from home fires. So if you smoke, take care to keep ashes and cigarette butts out of contact with anything flammable. And avoid smoking in bed.
One More Tip…
Do you have a working smoke alarm in your home? Unfortunately, many homeowners do not. And that’s a shame, because smoke alarms – coupled with a preplanned escape routine – can slash by half the possibility of someone in your family dying in a home fire.
So if you don’t yet have a smoke alarm, installing one would be a very wise move – along with eliminating any of the dangerous habits above of which you might be guilty. It’s a sure-fire way to make your family safer.