clock November 14, 2017 comments No Comments flowchart Homeowners InsuranceOur Blog tag Safety
a house on fire

According to the National Fire Prevention Association, a house fire occurs every 86 seconds in the U.S. Fortunately, you can avoid some of the most common causes mentioned below by following some common sense tips.

Cooking Poses Greatest Risk

NFPA statistics indicate that cooking causes most home fires and it is the second leading cause of house fire fatalities. Almost half of all house fires (46%) start in the kitchen, and usually from leaving food unattended on the stove. Over half of all cooking-related injuries occur when someone tries to put the fire out. Here are a few tips to avoid kitchen fires:

  • Stay in the kitchen while you’re cooking
  • Keep a fire extinguisher in your home and know how to use it
  • If a fire starts in the oven, shut off the heat and leave the door closed
  • Never douse a grease fire with water – shut off the heat, throw on an oven mitt, dump baking soda over the flames, and cover the pot or pan with a metal lid (only use this method when the fire has not spread)
  • Call 911 if the fire has already spread beyond the pot/pan

Heating Equipment Can Cause Fires

Any appliance that generates heat can cause a fire if you do not take precautions. NFPA estimates 16% of house fires start due to portable heaters igniting flammable materials and poorly maintained wood stoves, furnaces, dryers, and fireplaces. Here’s how to avoid heating equipment fires:

  • Maintain space between space heaters, wood stoves, and fireplaces and furniture, curtains, and other flammable materials.
  • Order a furnace, fireplace, and wood stove inspection annually
  • Clean your home’s chimney, dryer lint trap, and vent annually

Smoking Is A Fire Risk

Fewer people smoke today, but smoking still causes fires and deaths. Over half of smoking-related deaths involve people over 65 years of age. Here’s what you can do to reduce risk if you smoke:

  • Smoke outdoors
  • Do not smoke in bed or when you know you’re tired
  • Use large ashtrays and ensure you properly extinguish each cigarette
  • Don’t dump cigarette butts and ashes into the garbage can – use a metal tin

Electricity Can Spark Fires

Electrical failures in the home account for 13% of all house fires. Causes include faulty or poorly maintained equipment or overloading outlets. Frayed wires on a toaster or extension cord, improperly wired light fixtures, or too much of a load on a circuit can cause wires to smolder or create a spark. The most common cause of electrical fires is home wiring (63%). Here’s how to avoid electrical fires:

  • Don’t overload receptacles with adapters
  • Use surge protectors with fuses
  • Don’t use indoor extension cords outside
  • Unplug Christmas lights and countertop appliances when you leave home
  • Have an electrician inspect your wiring and budget for upgrades

Burn Candles Safely

The NFPA estimates that candles cause 29 fires every day in the U.S. Most fires start in the bedroom and cause many injuries and deaths. Most often, fires start because the candle burns too close to flammable materials. Candle fires are more common during the holiday season. Here’s what you can do to avoid candle fires:

  • Keep candles at least 12 inches away from flammable materials
  • Never leave a candle burning when you are not in the room
  • Use proper candle holders so candles do not fall over
  • Extinguish candles before you go to sleep

Lightning Safety

You can’t control Mother Nature, but you can minimize the chances of electrical sparks and wildfires. Here’s what you can to protect your home:

  • Buy a professionally installed lightning protection system if you live in a high-risk area
  • Clear plants and other vegetation from around the structure, including overhanging branches
  • Unplug major electronics during an electrical storm

Children Playing With Fire

Children often have a fascination with fire, but children can also start house fires, and children under the age of six are the most likely to do so. Here is how you can protect them and your household from fire:

  • Use child-resistant lighters and store them properly
  • Teach children about fire safety and have a fire escape plan
  • Don’t leave children unattended around candles, a wood stove, fireplace, fire pit, or grill

Smoke Alarms

NFPA statistics show three of every five home fire deaths result from fires in homes without smoke alarms or in homes with inoperable smoke alarms. Almost half of inoperable smoke alarms are due to missing or disconnected batteries. Here’s how you can ensure you have ample protection:

  • The U.S. Fire Administration (USFA) recommends monthly smoke detector tests and bi-annual battery replacement
  • Ensure the maximum distance between two smoke alarms is 30 feet, or less

If you follow these tips, you’re less likely to have a house fire, but adequate insurance is also extremely important. Review your homeowner’s insurance policy with your Rhode Island independent insurance agent annually to ensure you have sufficient coverage. Many people renew their policy automatically and do not consider the increased value of their home and contents. This can leave you underinsured and at risk if you have a house fire.

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