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Preventing 8 Common Causes of House Fires

Take it from our Sonoma fire safety professionals: One of the greatest threats to your home or business is fire. Sadly, while hundreds of thousands of buildings are destroyed by fires every year, many of these catastrophes are easily preventable using common fire safety protocols.

Here are some of the most common accidents that occur and cause fire, as well as what you can do to prevent them from happening to you.

1. Smoking indoors – According to the National Fire Protection Association, smoking is the most common cause of house fire deaths in the U.S. Always smoke outside and thoroughly extinguish cigars/cigarettes by soaking them in water before tossing them in the trash.

2. Electrical equipment – All it takes is a frayed cord or overloaded electrical outlet, and something as small as a toaster could ignite and burn down a home. To prevent this, always keep heat-producing appliances unplugged when not in use, and never plug in devices with damaged power cords. Look for warning signs such as: burned or discolored electrical outlets; an appliance, outlet, or power cord that feels hot to the touch; electrical sparks or shocks when a device is plugged in; flickering lights; and frequent breaker trips or blown fuses. Additionally, never cut off or tamper with the third prong on a power cord, as this prevents dangerous power surges

3. Candles – When lighting candles, always make sure to keep them at least 12 inches from the nearest flammable item. To be safe, try to always have them positioned within a sturdy, heat-resistant candle holder, and never leave them in a room unattended.

4. Grilling – While a great outdoor hobby, BBQs and other grills should always be used at a safe distance from any structures, tablecloths, or shrubbery. Avoid grease fires by regularly scrubbing your barbeque clean with soapy water and a grill brush. Routinely check for propane leaks and separately scrub all removable parts.

5. Cooking – Among one of the most common causes of house fires, cooking often combines two very dangerous elements: a heat source and highly flammable ingredients. To minimize this risk, keep your stovetop clean from grease, crumbs, and other food particles. Never leave the stovetop on and unattended, keep your cooking area clear of flammable materials, and always have your sleeves rolled up when working over an open flame. Keep a heavy metal lid, baking soda, table salt, cookie sheet, or a fire extinguisher within reach should a fire occur.

6. Flammable liquids – Flammable liquids such as gasoline, kerosene, and propane should always be stored outdoors in their original containers. When gas-powered equipment is in disuse, tanks should be emptied and gas properly disposed of. Kerosene and propane heaters should be installed in well-ventilated, clutter-free zones with a constant open flame maintained.

7. Clothes dryer – All it takes is one electrical spark to cause backed-up lint within a dryer vent to ignite a potentially serious fire. From the vent, fire can spread through the tubing and ignite the walls or foundation of a building. Eliminate this possibility by regularly cleaning lint traps and vent tubing. Depending on your venting system, the latter may require specialized equipment from a professional.

8. Space heaters – Avoid igniting a fire by maintaining at least a three feet circumference clear of fabrics, draperies, furniture, and other combustible material. Choose space heaters that include an automatic shut-off feature and regularly check that your heater has a properly functioning thermostat control. Although not as a common a source of home fires, make sure that your central heating system is maintained annually. Finally, as a generalized safety precaution, install smoke alarms on every level of your home and test them monthly.

To learn more about fireproofing your home, contact Firebrand Safety Systems today. Our team is here to help you feel safer.

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