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Hidden Fire Hazards Around Your Home

Jun 13, 2018|

Washer/dryer graphic

When it comes to fire prevention around the house, we all know the basics—don't leave candles unattended, keep matches and lighters out of kids' reach, and don't overload your outlets.

But what about the not-so-obvious? Even basic, everyday items in your home could be a fire waiting to happen.

Surprising fire hazards around the house

Clothes dryers

Believe it or not, your clothes dryer could be a fire hazard. Each year, firefighters respond to more than 14,000 fires caused by dryers. This is mostly caused by lint buildup in the vent and vent hose, which can ignite from the heat of the dryer.

dryer with a towel
Clean your dryer lint screen often to prevent buildup that could become a fire hazard.


Luckily, this is largely avoidable with the right preventive steps:

  • Get in the habit of cleaning your dryer lint screen after every load.
  • Make sure the hose that runs from the dryer to the vent outside is made from aluminum. The plastic white hoses that used to be common in homes are now prohibited by law as they pose a fire hazard.
  • Let clothes cool down before removing them from the dryer. This is especially true if you have washed clothes that have been soiled with combustibles like grease or gasoline.

Piles of clutter

Most of us have junk drawers, a stack of mail, or a pile of things to get to "later" around the house. While this disarray isn't inherently dangerous, large piles of clutter or materials in storage could become a fire hazard.

If a fire starts, clutter not only makes it difficult to find your way out of a home but causes the fire to spread more rapidly. This is especially true for paper products, like old newspapers or magazines, boxes full of books or photos, and items composed of synthetic materials.

Decluttering your home will not only create a more peaceful, tranquil dwelling space but a safer one as well.

When storing items in your garage, attic, or other rooms, make sure to stack them away from heaters to minimize risk. Leave about 3 to 4 feet between water heaters and furnaces that have open flames.

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Keep your cooking area clean and clear

Cooking equipment is the leading cause of residential fires, accounting for nearly half of reported home fire injuries and 20% of home fire deaths. Food preparation often involves high temperatures, open flames, flammable substances, and cluttered cooking spaces—all of which can contribute to fire.

Avoid cooking equipment fires by keeping the stovetop clean and clear of items that could catch fire.


But cooking equipment fires can be prevented.

  • Leaving your cooking unattended is the leading cause of culinary equipment fires. So keep an eye on that food.
  • Properly discard supplies and ingredients you don't need.
  • Don't leave items too close to cooking heat sources.
  • Turn off your stovetop and oven when you're not actively using them. It may seem common sense, yet it still accounts for 8% of cooking equipment fires.
  • Keep your stovetop and oven clean.

Be smart about space heaters

In cooler climates, space heaters can be a welcome comfort. But they also lead to 43% of home heating fires. These fires can be avoided by keeping the space heater cleaned and maintained and placing it clear of flammable materials.

Practice fireplace safety

Keeping a live fire inside your home presents inherent risks, but that doesn't have to lead to an uncontrolled fire. Put up a fireplace grate or screen and keep your fireplace and chimney clean to avoid flare-ups and escaping sparks.

Eliminate or limit smoking in the home

Smoking materials like cigarettes and cigars are the leading cause of fire deaths, and one of the top five causes of fire in the home.

Smoking cessation is the easiest way to avoid fire from cigarettes or cigars. But if you have to have that nicotine fix, help prevent fires by smoking outside away from the house, and completely extinguishing butts and ashes in an ashtray with sand or water.

Monitor electrical connections

Electricity may be commonplace and necessary in the home, but it does come with risks. In fact, electrical distribution and lighting equipment is the third most-common cause of home structure fires. Prevent electrical fires by:

  • Repairing or replacing frayed or damaged electrical cords.
  • Having home wiring checked, particularly if you own an older home.
  • Not overloading power outlets or power strips.

Care for Christmas trees and lights

Christmas trees and lights should add to the festivities of the season, but deck the halls with caution. Properly water a real Christmas tree and place it away from heat sources and open flame. Check Christmas lights for frayed wires or other signs of damage.

Grill responsibly

A grill may not be inside the home, but it still presents a fire risk. Keep your grill a safe distance—at least 10 feet—from your home and properly maintain and clean your grill. And perhaps most importantly, don't leave a grill unattended.

Keep that candle from blowing in the wind

While home fires resulting from candles occur less frequently, they are still a risk. Don't leave a candle unattended and ensure the candle is on a stable platform away from flammable objects.

Fire prevention at home

Keep your family safe. Educate yourself on the causes of house fires and take steps to minimize the risk for your home and family.

Equally import is making sure you have working smoke detectors in your home.

In the event of fire, a working smoke detector can be the difference between life and death; 3 out of 5 house fire deaths occur in homes without smoke detectors. Check your smoke alarm batteries regularly to keep your home and family protected.

Monitored smoke alarms provide an extra level of protection, since they are connected to a central monitoring station that automatically dispatches the fire department to your home if an alarm is triggered—whether you're home or away.

You have enough to worry about, so take the stress of a house fire off your plate. Plan ahead, take proper precautions, and enjoy the peace of mind that comes with knowing your home and family are protected.

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