Common Causes of Fire
Common Causes of Home Fires
Home Fire Prevention
Safety In The Kitchen
- When cooking, take care if you’re wearing loose clothing as it can easily catch fire.
- Keep electrical leads, tea towels and cloths away from the cooker and hob.
- Never leave children alone in the kitchen.
- Keep matches, lighters and saucepan handles where children can’t reach them, and fit a safety catch on the oven door.
- Keep the oven, hob, toaster and grill clean– a build-up of fat, crumbs or grease can easily catch fire.
- Don’t use matches or lighters to light gas cookers – spark devices, which you can buy from hardware stores, are safer.
- Don’t leave pans on the hob when you’re not around. Take them off the heat if you have to leave the kitchen.
- Angle saucepan handles so they don’t stick out from the hob, or over a naked flame.
- Keep electrical leads and appliances away from water.
- Turn off electrical appliances when they’re not being used and service them regularly.
- Check that the toaster is clean, and empty the crumbs regularly. Make sure it’s not near curtains, blinds and kitchen rolls.
- Don’t overload electrical sockets.
Deep Fried Food
- If you regularly deep-fry food, consider buying an electric deep-fat fryer.
They have thermostats fitted so they can’t overheat and are safer to use.
- Dry food before putting it into hot oil, to prevent the oil from splashing and burning you.
- If you don’t have an electric deep-fat fryer and are using an ordinary pan, never fill it more than one-third full.
- If the oil starts to smoke, it’s too hot. Turn the heat off and leave it to cool.
- Don’t put anything that is made of metal or is metallic inside the microwave.
- When you have finished cooking, make sure you switch off the oven and hob.
- Your garage is free from any combustible materials or easily flammable junk. Gasoline should be stored in approved safety containers and away from any heat source, especially where there is an open flame; the same goes for oily rags.
- The door that leads from the garage to the main house should be sturdy and incorporate both a fire-resisting threshold and adequate weather stripping that can prevent carbon monoxide fumes from entering the house.
- Ensure all fire safety devices are properly installed and working optimally in your garage.
Basement Fire Safety
- The burner access panels (typically located on the front of the boilers) are fully closed in order to prevent potential flame roll-out.
- The breaker wires are perfectly tight, as opposed to loose and the circuit breaker panel functions in optimum conditions.
- If your home is older, it is likely that arc fault circuit interrupters ensure protection against potential electrical wiring errors; be sure to secure the specialized services of an electrician to have these properly fixed.
- The areas around various heat-generating equipment (i.e. water heater, furnace, stove etc) are clear of any hazardous and easily flammable materials, substances ( liquids, aerosols) and debris/trash. Place the oily rags in air-tight containers and as far as possible from open flame.
- There should be no frayed wire on light bulbs and the wire insulators must show no visible signs of decay or erosion.
- Avoid smoking next to open flame in the water heater and be sure to have at least three fire safety devices in the basement: a fire alarm, a carbon monoxide alarm and a sprinkler system.
- Properly clean the lint trap ( located near/in the door of the dryer) between each load of laundry. There should be no accumulated lint inside the dryer, the exhaust duct or the area behind the dryer.
- Check regularly the ducting at the back of the dryer for any signs of lint collected there and call a professional to replace flexible plastic or foil ducting material with rigid metal dryer duct.
- Check the end point of the dryer vent outside your home and ensure the dryer vent is neither clogged with lint and it properly opens to let the air out when your dryer is running.
- Do not store combustible material near the dryer and if the furnace is located near the laundry room, avoid dropping lint or hanging clothing near it.
Electrics & Appliances
Plugs & Cables
- Unplug electrical appliances when you’re not using them.
- Don’t overload sockets – use one plug in each socket.
- Don’t put cables under carpets or mats.
Make sure that the plug has the correct fuse for the appliance.
- If you have to use an adaptor, use a ‘bar type’ one with a fuse and keep the total output of all plugs in the adaptor to no more than 13 amps. A kettle alone uses 13 amps.
- Check for signs of loose wiring and faulty plugs or sockets (such as scorch marks or flickering lights), and have any problems you find fixed.
- Replace any worn or taped-up cables and leads.
- Don’t fold electric blankets. Protect the wiring inside them by storing them flat or rolled up.
- Don’t leave an electric blanket switched on all night, unless it is thermostatically controlled so it can be used all night.
- Electric blankets should carry the British Standard Kitemark and the British Electrotechnical Approvals Board (BEAB) symbol on them.
- Always position heaters so the back is against a wall and they’re facing the room. If possible, secure them to the wall to prevent them from falling over.
- Don’t place heaters near curtains or furnishings, and never use them for drying clothes.
- Switch heaters off if you’re not in the room, and also when you go to bed.
- As light bulbs get hot, don’t place them near curtains and other fabrics.
• Check that your furniture has the permanent fire-resistant label.
Every year about 30 people die from carbon monoxide poisoning caused by gas appliances and flues which have not been properly installed or maintained.
You should have gas appliances safety-checked by a Confederation for the Registration of Gas Installers (CORGI) registered installer at least every 12 months.
Smoking (Cigarettes, cigars and pipes)
- Take extra care when you’re tired, taking prescription drugs or have been drinking alcohol. It’s very easy to fall asleep without realising that your cigarette is still burning.
- If you need to lie down, don’t light up. You could easily doze off and set your bed or sofa on fire.
- Don’t leave lit cigarettes, cigars or pipes unattended – they can easily overbalance as they burn down, land on a carpet
or newspaper and start a fire. When you put it out, make sure it really is out.
- Every year children die from starting fires with cigarettes, matches and lighters which they shouldn’t have. Keep these where children can’t reach them.
- Where possible, buy child-resistant lighters and matchboxes.
- Use a proper, heavy ashtray which can’t tip over easily and is made of a material that won’t burn.
- Tap your ash into an ashtray – never a wastebasket – and don’t let the ash or cigarette ends build up in the ashtray.
- Keep candles where children and pets can’t reach them, away from draughts, and away from anything that can easily catch fire (for example, furniture, curtains or newspapers).
- Make sure the candle is standing up straight and is fixed firmly in a proper holder so that it can’t fall over. Scented candles turn to liquid in order to release their fragrance, so always burn them in a suitable glass or metal container that can withstand the heat of the liquidand that the liquid cannot leak from.
- Always place candles on a heat-resistant surface. Night lights and tea lights can melt plastic surfaces, such as the top of a TV and the side of a bath tub.
- Don’t lean across a candle – you could set your hair or clothes on fire.
- Always leave at least 10cm (4 inches) between two burning candles and never place them under shelves or other surfaces.
- Don’t play with candles (for example, by putting matchsticks or anything else into the hot wax).
- Always put candles out before you move them. Using a ‘snuffer’ or a spoon is safer than blowing them out, which can send sparks and hot wax flying.
Protect The People You Love
A pet owner’s worst nightmare is the prospect of finding your beloved four legged friend killed or injured in a home fire. All pet owners know just how much effort and work it takes to provide the furry friends with the proper care and safety they deserve. Responsibility that comes with caring for our four legged friends doesn’t stop even after leaving home. Since many fire accidents happen when pets are left at home alone, it’s essential to fully pet proof your home while also putting in place home pet fire safety measures. Here are some home pet fire safety tips;
- Just like people, our beloved four legged friends are susceptible to serious injuries and even death from fires and smoke inhalation. Keeping your home fireproofed and ensuring your pets are properly contained in certain areas of your house, will help prevent home fires; in addition, in the event of a fire, you will be able to save your pet’s life.
- Prevent your pet from starting a fire; pets are usually drawn to the flickering candles just like moths are drawn to a flame. Apart from the risk of getting burned, your pets may start a home fire if they happen to accidentally knock over a candle. Hence, you should never leave any lit candles unattended, more so, if the candles are within your pet’s reach. You should also be very careful with space heaters and halogen lamps which can easily start a home fire if they get knocked over by your pet’s wagging tail.
- Be mindful of any dangling electrical cords which can electrocute or strangle your pet if chewed upon. Any damaged or chewed electrical cords should be immediately replaced since they pose a great fire hazard.
- Never leave any open flames unattended; Pets are naturally curious and tend to investigate cooking appliances, lanterns, stoves and even the fires in the fireplace. It’s crucial to make sure that your pet isn’t left unattended near open flames. Also ensure all fires are fully extinguished before leaving the house.
- Identify all potential risks and pet proof your house. Some potential risks include; loose wires, dangling electrical cords, stove knobs, and other such potential fire hazards. Your pet can accidentally turn on a stove knob which can in turn lead to a house fire. Make sure you protect all the stove knobs from getting activated while you’re away.
- Keep your pets near entrances; Before you leave your pet(s) at home alone, it’s recommended you keep them somewhere near the entrance where it’s easy for firefighters to find them. You should also write down the number of pets you have inside your home, and then put up the sticker for firefighters.
- When leaving home, make sure you leave young pets like, kittens and puppies in a comfortable crate so as to avoid potential risks like, chewing wires and other potential hazards, while you’re away.
- Practice family escape routes in case of a fire; All families should repeatedly practice exactly how they’d escape from a house in case of a fire outbreak, under different situations. When running drills, make sure you designate someone who will be responsible for evacuating the pet(s) from the house. You can also train your dog to understand the meaning of a smoke alarm going off by continually doing drills of the smoke alarm going off, and then involving your dog in your family escape plan.
- Consider installing monitored smoke detectors that are connected to the monitoring center. A monitoring system will be able to alert both you, and the nearest fire station, in case of a fire outbreak. These monitoring systems offer an added level of protection.
- Pets normally react to fire by getting traumatized or scared. A pet can start urinating and defecating on the floor or scratching and biting people. If this happens, you need to be comforting to your pets by providing them with tender loving care while helping them understand that all is well again.
- Never bring a pet inside a home til all the smoke has cleared, and the fire damage has been fully repaired.
When cooking, take care if you’re wearing loose clothing as it can easily catch fire. Keep electrical leads, tea towels and cloths away from the cooker and hob. Never leave children alone in the kitchen. Keep matches, lighters and saucepan handles where children can’t reach them, and fit a safety catch on the oven door. Keep the oven, hob, toaster and grill clean– a build-up of fat, crumbs or grease can easily catch fire. Don’t use matches or lighters to light gas cookers – spark devices, which you can buy from hardware stores, are safer. Don’t leave pans on the hob when you’re not around. Take them off the heat if you have to leave the kitchen. Angle saucepan handles so they don’t stick out from the hob, or over a naked flame.
- If you have kids, you should talk to them about fire prevention and provide them with fire safety tips.
- Teach your kids not to play with matches, fireworks, or lighters, and keep those types of items away from their reach, to prevent them from playing with them.
- Provide them with some fire safety advice telling them what to do if there is a fire.
- If you have older kids, you should teach them not to use candles in their bedrooms unless they are supervised by an adult.
- You should also tell them not to leave a candle burning if they aren’t in the room.
- You should show your children how to respond to a fire alarm, and teach them to get low and out of the house if there is a fire.
- You should show your children how to feel doors and doorknobs carefully to tell if it is too hot, so they know not to open the door and find another exit.
- If you have toddlers and young children in the house, you should assign an older person to get them out of the house safely.
- You should also have a secondary person assigned to do the same thing in case the primary person you picked is not around during the fire or is overcome by the smoke.
- Make sure you keep space heaters at least three feet away from anything that can burn, and never leave little kids alone when a heater is turned on.
According to statistics, people over 65 years old are three times more likely to die in a residential fire than people younger than 65. This is why it is important that seniors have the tools that will help them survive a residential fire. There are organizations like Fire Safe Seniors that help make sure that senior citizens have a good chance of surviving a fire. These are some of the things they recommend you do to help senior citizens prevent fires and survive if there is a fire.
Home Assesments: This is to determine if the senior’s home requires smoke detectors, and also to identify any potential fire hazards in their home.
Smoke Alarm Installation: You should install one in the kitchen, and one in every sleeping room in the home.
Education: You should provide in person fire safety tips to the seniors, and let them know what they can do to prevent fires and what to do if there is a fire.
Follow Up: Check back regularly to make sure that the senior’s smoke alarms and fire extinguishers are working properly.
Things to avoid
- Seniors that have trouble walking tend to pile things close to their beds, let them know that it is a fire hazard and ask them to refrain from doing so.
- If there are oxygen tanks in the home, nobody should be allowed to smoke in it.
- Space heaters should not be used near oxygen tanks.
There are people with all sorts of different disabilities who require extra attention when it comes to fire safety. Some disabilities affect mobility while others are deaf or blind, making it impossible to either hear the fire alarm going off, or see what is going on around them. If you have to take care of disabled people, here are a few tips on educating them on fire safety and getting them out of the building in an emergency.
- If you have a deaf person in your care, you should install fire alarms that have strobe lights, that way they can tell if there is a fire in the building.
- You should also communicate the same fire safety rules that you would give someone without disabilities.
- In the case of a deaf person, you can communicate using sign language, and for a blind person, you can communicate by giving them a brochure on fire safety written in braille.
- You should also make sure they have a service animal that will be able to guide them out of the building.
- If you have a disabled person that uses a wheel chair, you can install handicap ramps around the house for them to move around easily and get out of the house quickly if there is a fire.
- You should show them the fire escape plan so they will know what route to take, and help them practice what to do in case of a fire, so they don’t panic if one does happen.
- If possible, you should have someone that can carry them out of the burning building.
- Pregnant women have limited mobility in the later stages of their pregnancies, but they can still move around.
- As it is dangerous for a pregnant woman to inhale smoke, you have to try and evacuate them from the home as quickly as possible.
- If you have a pregnant woman in your home, you should assign someone that can help her get out of the house quickly.
- Pregnant women have a bag packed for when they go into labor, make sure that you grab the bag if there is a fire because they usually contain things that she needs, like her medication.
- Try to dampen a towel and place it over her mouth so she can breathe if there is a lot of smoke in the home.
What To Do if Your Home Is On Fire
If there is heavy smoke in the room, you should crawl towards the closest exit in your escape plan because smoke and gasses collect towards the roof and ceiling.
Leave the house very quickly when you hear the smoke alarm going off, because fire spreads very quickly, and you may only have a few minutes to escape.
If you see smoke blocking an exit, use another exit.
Smoke is toxic, but if you have no other option but to go through it, stay as low as possible.
Before opening a door during a fire, quickly touch the doorknob and the door. If either one of them is hot, keep the door closed and find another exit.
What To do After The Fire
After the fire, the next step is picking up the pieces and moving on with your life. To do so, there are a few things that you need to take care of.
- You need to get in touch with a relief service, like The Red Cross, which can help you with your housing, food, or medical needs.
- If your home was insured, you need to let your insurance company know about the situation so you can start rebuilding. If you didn’t insure your home, you should try to find organizations that can provide you with some assistance.
- Ask your fire department if you can enter your home, and you should watch out for structural damages due to the fire if you enter the house.
- Make an inventory of your damaged property.
- Try to find your important documents and records.
- If you aren’t going to be in your home, let the police department know it is unoccupied to keep people out of it.
- Contact the IRS to learn about the benefits the government has for people that are suffering losses because of fires.
- FEMA 2012 National Fire Protection Association Estimates
- FEMA 2004 Fire Risk
- Kids Health Fire Safety
- New York Health Children’s Fire Injury Prevention (by age)
- gov Fire Safety for Kids
- Sparky the Fire Dog
- Minneapolis Kids’ Fire Safety Resources
- Tips in Preparing Children to Escape Fire
- Preparing a Home Fire Escape Plan
- Talking about Fire Safety with Your Children
- APA: Recovering emotionally after a residential fire
- Residential fires
- Helping Children Cope with Disasters
- How to Help Children Cope Following a Disaster
- Safety Tips for the Seniors/Disabled
- Senior Fire and Burn Safety
- Senior Fire Safety
- Older Ohioan Fire Safety Tips
- Fire Safety for Seniors
- Emergency Plan Considerations for Senior Citizens
- Elderly Disaster Care
- Pet Fire Safety
- Five Fire Safety Tips for People with Pets
- Fire Prevention Week 2010: Your Guide to Pets and Fire Safety