House fires can ignite when you least expect them and can spread uncontrollably within minutes. Even if the fire is put out quickly, it can result in thousands of dollars in damage. It is important to be informed on house fire prevention methods, and to have the right insurance in place if a fire does occur.
1. Unattended Cooking and Cooking Equipment
Cooking is the leading cause of house fires. It is important to stay in the kitchen while you are cooking to avoid getting distracted and forgetting about the stove or oven. If you are cooking with oil or cooking food that produces grease, check on your food regularly and stay in the kitchen. Always set a timer for your cooking so that you will be alerted when it is done. Clean your appliances regularly; food and grease build-up can be highly flammable.
2. Space Heaters and Chimneys
Heating equipment including space heaters and chimneys are one of the next most common causes of house fires. Chimneys that are improperly cleaned or maintained can be highly flammable. Keep portable heaters away from anything that could catch fire (at least one metre away) and get them checked annually to make sure they meet safety requirements. Ensure chimneys, especially those connected to wood burning stoves or fireplaces are regularly cleaned and inspected.
3. Cigarettes and Smoking
According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), the leading cause of fire fatalities comes from the use of smoking materials. Cigarette butts and ashes can cause beds, curtains, carpets, and other furniture to ignite in seconds. If you are smoking, do it outside when possible, or use an ashtray to reduce your fire risk. Do not put out cigarettes in planters or potted plants, as potting soil contains peat moss. Peat moss will smoulder for hours then eventually ignite, leading to a significant fire in minutes. This is one of the primary causes of catastrophic fires in Canadian multi-family residences.
4. Electrical and Lighting Equipment
Electrical faults in home wiring, outlets, and cords are another common cause of fires. Typically, electrical fires occur because of short circuits or overloading, which can cause wires to overheat. Never attempt to do any electrical work in your home if you are not qualified to do so. Certified electricians are a very wise investment when it comes to protecting your home and family.
Candles are an open flame that can easily ignite anything that can burn, so it is important to not place a lit candle close to anything flammable. Always blow out candles when you leave a room and before you go to bed. Examine your candles for anything on them that could be flammable – such as fake flowers or twigs. Additionally, do not leave candles, matches, or lighters anywhere that can be reached by small children.
Good practices for further protection from house fires:
- Have working smoke detectors and test them regularly
- Keep a fire extinguisher near the doorway of your kitchen
- Purchase a fireproof safe and store important belongings and documents inside it
- Insure your belongings
Read more: Preparing Your Home and Family for Wildfires
Read more: Anti-flooding Tips for Your Home
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