House fires are one of the most frightening and destructive events, and it is a common fear among Lapeer area homeowners. Below, we outline some common household activities and how they can be made safer.
Heating- While obviously a problem in the winter months, different methods of heating your home could be a major fire hazard. The most common cause of fire related to home heating are space heaters, which cause 78% more fires annually than a central heating system. If you are using portable space heaters, use them in well ventilated rooms. Keep all space heaters at least 3 feet away from items like furniture, drapes, fabrics, and other flammable objects. Ensure that the thermostat on the heater is working properly and if possible, use a model with an automatic shut-off feature. While central heating causes far less fires than these portable models, it is important to have your system maintained properly.
Cooking- Most every kitchen has several potential fire hazards. Often, faulty or frayed wiring on appliances is a culprit. Another major cause is unattended pots and pans on stove tops, or overheated cooking oils. To keep your Lapeer area homes safe from kitchen related fires, it is important to stay present while food is being cooked. Have your appliances checked for bad wiring, and always make sure that electrical appliances are connected properly. Wear short sleeves or tightly roll your long sleeves while cooking, as this can prevent injury. Avoid cooking when you are overtired, consuming alcohol, or taking medicine that makes you drowsy. Most importantly, keep children away from stovetops, ovens and other appliances while in use.
Smoking- Unattended or improperly attended cigarettes and cigars are the leading cause of fire related deaths in the US, according to the National Fire Protection Association. Most of these fires start in the home and involve upholstery or mattresses. Always smoke outside, and be sure to completely put out your cigarettes’ in an ashtray. Soak your cigarette butts in water before throwing them in the trash can, as this is another common cause of fires. Be sure to never smoke in a home where medical oxygen is being used, as this can cause an explosion.
Frayed Appliance Cords- Frayed and faulty wires are one of the commonly overlooked causes of home fires. It is important to check cords on appliances like your washer, dryer, oven, microwave, and any other appliances. Pay special attention to those that are connected in close proximity to sinks or other water sources. Don’t place cords under furniture or rugs. Be sure to not overload electrical outlets, and never try to force a three-prong plug into a two-prong outlet.
Fireplaces & Wood Burning Stoves- Another leading cause of house fires, fireplaces or wood burning stoves can cause enormous amounts of damage, mainly due to their proximity to upholstery in the home. To help keep your Lapeer home safe, be sure to install a spark screen or glass door in front of the firebox in order to stop errant sparks and embers from landing on carpet, rugs or furniture. Be sure to check your chimney yearly to make sure creosote isn’t built up, and never leave a fire unattended. Dispose of ashes in a metal container regularly.
Candles- It is always nice to have a pleasant aroma in your home, and one of the most popular ways to achieve this is by burning scented candles. However, if not properly extinguished, candles can be a dangerous item, leading to house fires. Because they are small, cats and dogs can knock burning candles off of end tables, quickly igniting carpet, rugs or upholstery. Be sure to put candles in a space where children and pets can’t accidentally knock them over. Keep lit candles away from bedding, and if possible, purchase electric or battery powered candles.
Flammable Liquids- As summer approaches, making sure your lawnmower and grill have fuel is an important task. However, these items, when improperly stored can lead to garage and house fires. Keep gasoline, kerosene and propane in their original containers and store them outdoors. When the season ends, be sure to empty fuel from lawnmowers, weed whips, leaf blowers, snow blowers, and any other gas-powered outdoor equipment. Clean any fuel spills up immediately.
Grills & Firepits- Summer time fun often involves bonfires and BBQ’s in Lapeer. But unattended grills and firepits can cause enormous damage. Keep your grill or firepit several feet away from your house, and also keep them a safe distance from wood decks, trees, and other combustible items. Make sure you are routinely cleaning your grill with soap and water to keep grease and oil from building up. Check your gas connection regularly, and keep an eye out for rust or corrosion.