14 Bad Habits That Could Burn Down Your House
Bad Habits You Should Break
House fires are more common than you may realize, with potential fire starters like light bulbs, laptops, and lint traps hiding in plain sight throughout your home, disguised as harmless, everyday necessities. Are you guilty of these bad habits that could burn your house down?
Piling Up Dirty Rags
A pile of chemical-soaked rags could trigger the perfect storm: Left unattended, these rags are a very real fire hazard, as they could oxidize and spontaneously combust, causing a house fire. To dispose of soiled rags properly, place them in a metal can that's been filled with water, and cover it with a tight-fitting lid, or lay them flat outside to dry.
Misusing Electric Blankets
An electric blanket poses a potential fire hazard if used improperly. Never allow pets to snuggle up on top, and don't pile extra covers over the electric blanket, because excessive heat buildup may lead to fire. Keep your electric blanket at its lowest setting, never bend the coils, and always turn it off in the morning.
Neglecting Appliance Recalls
Home appliances cause an estimated 150,000 fires each year, and a significant number of these were caused by defective appliances. To keep on top of recalls and prevent disaster in your home, register your appliance with the manufacturer or go to www.recalls.gov to find out if any of your models are on the list.
Lingering Dryer Lint
Emptying the lint screen increases your dryer’s efficiency, but did you know that lint is also flammable? Mixing excessive heat with lint buildup is a recipe for disaster. Clean the dryer vent and exhaust duct regularly, as well as the interior of the dryer frame, to clear away lint and clogs, and reduce the risk of fire.
Letting Your Laptop Overheat
When you leave your laptop on your bed, couch, rug, or other soft, flammable surface, you run the risk of restricting airflow through the cooling vents, which can cause your laptop to overheat and possibly catch fire. To prevent fires, keep your laptop on a desk or table instead.
Choosing the Wrong Wattage
Using a 60-watt bulb in a 40-watt socket puts your home at risk. Installing a light bulb with a wattage that is too high for a lamp or light fixture is a leading cause of electrical fires. Always check the light fixture’s maximum wattage, and never go over the recommended rating.
Using Too Many Extension Cords
Extension cords are meant to be a temporary response to a lack of electrical outlets, not a permanent solution. Connecting a large number of cords for a significant amount of time can cause an overload that leads to a short circuit, which could ignite a fire. If you need additional outlets, hire a qualified electrician to install them, and you'll avoid this problem altogether.
Performing DIYs You're Not Qualified to Do
Jobs involving electrical wiring, plumbing, and HVAC units should never be completed without a qualified professional. Gas leaks and electrical sparks resulting from the improper installation are a common cause of house fires. Don't put your home and your family at risk by attempting these dangerous DIYs on your own—hire a licensed professional instead.
Built-up dust can be a fire hazard if it collects in and around electronics, electrical sockets, and even floor heaters. By vacuuming on a regular basis, especially behind your electronics, you’ll significantly reduce the likelihood that particles of dust will catch fire due to prolonged exposure to heat sources.
Storing Batteries Improperly
If you store 9-volt batteries in your kitchen junk drawer, you may be putting your home at risk. When loose batteries roll around with other metals, such as screws or paper clips, the two terminals could short out and generate enough heat to ignite nearby flammables. Put a piece of electrical tape over the terminals, or store the batteries in their original packaging to prevent this possibility.
Ignoring Uninvited Pesky Guests
Mice and other rodents like to gnaw on electrical wires. Over time, they can remove the sheathing, leaving the wires exposed. Unfortunately, the electric current that travels through the wire generates heat, and in the absence of sheathing this could lead to sparks caused by short circuits, which in turn could ignite the surrounding surfaces. If you suspect a rodent infestation, call a professional exterminator immediately.
Forgetting the Chimney Sweep
Dead birds, raccoon nests, cracked mortar, and built-up creosote are all common causes of chimney fires. The National Fire Protection Association recommends scheduling a professional chimney sweep at least once a year to ensure the safe operation of the chimney. And when you're building a fire in your fireplace, always light it with an approved fire starter—never kerosene. The consequences could be disastrous.
Overlooking the Range Hood
While ovens and cooktops are the most common sources of kitchen fires, range hoods also pose a potential threat. Over time, grease that has built up on the vent hood filter can drip down onto the cooktop, possibly igniting a fire. From there, the flames could easily reach your cabinets, and before you know it, your kitchen could be consumed by fire. Don't let this happen to you! Regularly clean and maintain your range hood to keep your kitchen out of harm's way.
Arranging Furniture Unwisely
If your furniture is too close to your wood stove, it could spontaneously ignite. Pyrolysis, a chemical decomposition of a combustible item, occurs when an object (say, a sofa) is continually exposed to a heat source (a wood stove) and eventually dries out. This leading yet seldom-considered cause of structural fires does not require a direct flame; all it takes is heat and time for ignition to occur.
Have Smoke or Fire Damage? Call (302) 392-6000
Why Choose SERVPRO of Bear/New Castle?
As fire and water restoration specialists, we have the training, experience and specialized equipment necessary to restore your home or business. We are committed to providing superior service while restoring your property back to pre-fire condition.
What You Can Do Until Help Arrives
After any fire damage situation, your primary focus should be safety first:
- Is it safe to stay in the house?
- Electrical and "slip and fall" hazards are some of the most prevalent concerns.
- Only do activities that are safe for you to perform.
- Wet materials can be VERY heavy. Be careful!