A house fire is a traumatic, terrifying experience even if everyone gets out safely. It’s something we don’t want any family to experience. Seeing all of your possessions destroyed. Waiting for months for the insurance company to investigate and then rebuild. Having to find a place to stay while you wait.
It is a difficult experience, to say the least, to watch your entire life go up in smoke. Then, there is the water damage that comes from fighting the fire, as if the smoke and fire damage isn’t enough.
Sometimes things can cause home fires that we don’t even think about. Simple things that could easily be corrected or avoided. That’s what we want to share with you today, some fire safety tips. There are some maintenance items in your home that need proper attention so you don’t end up with a fire.
1. Clean your clothes dryer vent once per year (or if clothes don’t dry well).
Most of us know to remove the lint from the inside of the dryer near the door after every load. That’s a great start to prevent home fires. And many people know not to overload a dryer. It’s also wise not to run the dryer if you aren’t home or if you go to bed.
Something people tend to neglect is cleaning the dryer vent that goes from the back of the dryer to the outside of the house. If clothing lint gets clogged in a dryer vent, a fire can start.
According to the National Fire Protection Association, over 13,000 house fires per year happen because of clothes dryers. About 27% of these fires are caused by neglected dryer vents.
Another great way to prevent clothes dryer fires is to replace an accordion-style duct with a rigid metal duct that won’t sag or be prone to lint buildup.
- Clothes Dryer Safety (by the National Fire Protection Association)
2. Check your water heater annually.
Gas water heaters can leak flammable natural gas or propane into the room and a spark could cause a fire or explosion. Older models are at a greater risk than newer ones.
It’s best not to keep flammable materials near a gas water heater. Keep those things in another room. Also, be sure the gas water heater is vented properly.
Electric water heaters can lead to electrical fires, but the overall fire risk is much lower than with gas water heaters.
Tankless water heaters have the lowest fire risk. They generally shut down if they detect a problem before a fire could start.
Conducting proper maintenance and repairs on your water heater can help prevent fires and explosions. Most water heaters have safety measures in place to prevent this. Regular inspections will ensure you can operate your water heater safely.
- Water Heater Safety by Home Inspection Insider
3. Check your electrical outlets to be sure they aren’t overloaded.
If you overload your outlets and plug in too many cords into one outlet, that can be a fire hazard. It’s wise to look at all of your outlets every so often to make sure there is a reasonable load going into each one.
Be sure to insert plugs completely into the sockets. If you notice black soot marks on outlets or plugs, stop using that outlet. Turn it off, if possible, and get a professional inspection right away.
If you blow electrical circuits in your electrical system very often, unplug what you can and get in touch with a professional electrician right away.
- Electrical Fire Safety from the U.S. Fire Administration
4. Replace surge protectors, extension cords, and power strips.
Once surge protectors have reached a certain level of power surge coming into them, they no longer protect your electronics and can actually become fire hazards. Most newer models have an indicator that their protective ability is still working or not.
Don’t use extension cords permanently or run them under carpets or rugs. They should never get damaged or pinched.
Never plug a large appliance like a refrigerator, stove, or dryer into an extension cord. These appliances must be plugged directly into a wall outlet for safety.
Also, if you plug too many things into a surge protector, extension cord, or power strip, that can cause a fire.
Replace any damaged or cracked cords. And check these cords, surge protectors, and power strips to be sure they are not getting warm or hot. If they are, unplug them and replace them. There shouldn’t be soot marks on the floor or walls nearby either.
- Electrical Fire Safety from the U.S. Fire Administration
5. Have your chimney cleaned and inspected annually.
If you use your fireplace, be sure to get your chimney inspected every year by professionals. This will ensure that you don’t have any structural damage or chimney fire risk.
If you ever suspect your chimney has had smoldering fires, don’t use the fireplace until it is inspected and repaired. A few signs that a fire has happened in the past include cracked exterior masonry, warped metal in the damper, creosote flakes on the roof or ground, and more (see link at the end of this section).
If you ever realize there is an active fire in your chimney, be sure to call 911 for help from firefighters.
- Chimney Fires from the Chimney Safety Institute of America
6. Clean your oven regularly.
A dirty oven can be a fire hazard. You don’t want extra grease or crumbs to catch fire when you are cooking. Or if grease splatters onto the heating element, it can cause sparks.
Clean the inside of your oven often with a damp cloth with baking soda and water. Or use oven cleaner as directed as needed. Or use the automatic oven cleaning cycle with your oven as directed.
Don’t leave your oven unattended. If the food cooks too long, it could catch on fire. If you do have a fire in your oven, leave the oven doors closed to keep from allowing more oxygen to get to the fire.
More oven safety tips: don’t leave flammable things in your oven for storage. Only use oven-safe pans and dishes.
- Oven safety by Hunker
7. Change your range hood filters regularly.
A greasy range hood filter can lead to a hood fire or a lot of smoke. Keep the hood filter clean. For stainless steel ones, you may be able to wash them, let them dry, and replace them.
Maintain your filters as directed by the manufacturer. Some hood filters are disposable and made of wool or other material. The more cooking you do, the more important it is to monitor your range hood filter’s safety.
- Kitchen Hood Safety by Guardian Dallas
8. Maintain your sump pump properly.
Replace your sump pump if it doesn’t have an overheating switch that will turn off if the engine overheats. You don’t need an unexpected fire to break out and create a nightmare.
Make sure your sump pump has its own circuit. If the sump pump starts working sporadically or having issues, have it inspected soon. Make sure the extension cord, if you have one, is strong and thick and not a fire hazard with worn casing or exposed wires.
- Sump pump safety by Woodworking from Plans
Press the test button twice per year to be sure your smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors are working properly. And replace the batteries as needed.
Consider replacing old detectors with photoelectric smoke detectors that can alert you to smoldering fires. You may also want to have an ionization smoke alarm for detecting rapid flame fires. Or you can buy a dual-sensor smoke detector that utilizes both technologies in the same alarm.
Ready to Tackle Your Home Maintenance Projects to Keep Your Family and Home Safe?
A handyman service like Punch List Pros can help with many of your home maintenance and repair jobs like replacing power strips, cleaning your dryer vent, changing your range hood vent, or installing smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors in your home.
While you’re at it, we can install fire extinguishers in your home, as well.
We can also help you with your honey-do list, home repairs, home improvement projects, and your realtor’s punch list before you sell your home.
Give us a call to see how we can help you keep your home safe, well-maintained, and looking its best.
Please contact us today!
We provide service in the Greater Columbia, SC area.