Fire Safety/Hazards in the Home

Periodically you need to clean certain parts of your home that collect dust and dirt and that are close to some kind of high heat source.  Here are a few of those places that if not cleaned regularly, could pose a fire hazard to your home.

The clothes dryer

You must clean out not only the lint trap, but the hose that spits the hot air outside from your clothes dryer.  This hose, all the way up to the lint trap collects excess dust and lint and over time can not only hinder performance and make it take far longer than it should to dry clothes, but it could be dangerous.  This little project is a huge pain in the butt, as you probably need to detach the hose from the drying machine, but check your instruction booklet or call the retailer where you purchased.  You need to do it about every six months to make sure you keep the lines clean or else you are in danger of “dryer fire.”  The US Consumer Products Safety Commission goes on to explain other parts of the dryer that should be kept clean and free of lint and other fire hazards.  According to this org, there are over 15,000 dryer fires a year in the US!

Imagine this is a drying machine:

The fireplace

Over time, ashes accumulate at the bottom of a wood burning fireplace or stove and need to be cleaned out.  They aren’t going to disappear on their own, and too much rubbish could cause burning logs to smolder longer than expected and overheat the area and burn the walls. According to the US Fire Administration, over 36% of home fires are begin with wood and fuel fired appliances. Here are their tips for fireplace safety:

  • Have your chimney or wood stove inspected and cleaned annually by a certified chimney specialist.
  • Clear the area around the hearth of debris, decorations and flammable materials.
  • Leave glass doors open while burning a fire. Leaving the doors open ensures that the fire receives enough air to ensure complete combustion and keeps creosote from building up in the chimney.
  • Close glass doors when the fire is out to keep air from the chimney opening from getting into the room. Most glass fireplace doors have a metal mesh screen which should be closed when the glass doors are open. This mesh screen helps keep embers from getting out of the fireplace area.
  • Always use a metal mesh screen with fireplaces that do not have a glass fireplace door.
  • Install stovepipe thermometers to help monitor flue temperatures.
  • Keep air inlets on wood stoves open, and never restrict air supply to fireplaces. Otherwise you may cause creosote buildup that could lead to a chimney fire.
  • Use fire-resistant materials on walls around wood stoves.

Cooking fires

Never leave the kitchen unattended when cooking and don’t leave potholders and other items anywhere near the stove.  They can easily catch on fire, as could your own long sleeves or other loose clothing.

Clean your oven regularly so there is not a build up of grease that could potentially catch on fire.

If you have a charcoal grill outside, make sure to clean out the ashes and the grease trap or drip pan periodically.

There are many other potential causes of fires in the home so it is crucial that you keep your smoke alarms up to date and in working condition.  Also make sure to lecture your kids about how dangerous fire is and how not to play with matches.  Curiosity often gets the best of them but unfortunately their playing is a very typical cause of home fires.

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