Everyday Household Items That May Be A Fire Hazard
Most people are aware of the potential risk of fire posed by some obvious household items – candles, stoves, and space heaters. But there may be a number of items you overlook that pose as a fire hazard. Below are a few common everyday household items that could start a fire in your home.
Metal and dry foods and fans, oh my!
Microwaves, especially those that are outdated, are one of the most common sources of house fires. By accidently microwaving a piece of metal, arcing can occur. Microwaves work by heating up the water molecules in your food, so when you attempt to cook dry foods in the microwave without first adding water to it, this can cause your food to ignite if cooked for too long. And to quite literally add fuel to the fire, the fan in your microwave can also provide oxygen to feed the flames, which is why you should never leave a microwave unattended when in use.
While rare, battery-related fires do happen! Since their positive and negative terminals are so close together, 9-Volt batteries can pose as a fire hazard if a piece of conductive metals comes between the two posts. To keep your home safe, store unused batteries in their original packaging, or cover the ends with a bit of electrical tape. Never store batteries in a drawer with loose metal or flammable objects.
All outlets are rated for a certain wattage, and using light bulbs that exceed those standards is a fire waiting to happen. If the outlet is unmarked, the safest course of action is to choose a light bulb that is 60 watts or below. If your home includes track or recessed lighting, consider using cooler LED bulbs instead of CFLs to avoid overheating.
Every year, more than 15,000 fires are caused by dryer lint. Lint traps do not catch a majority of the lint, which means that most of it ends up in the dryer vents. Dryer lint is highly flammable, and it can become a serious fire hazard because it block air flow and exhaust gasses. Clean the lint trap between each load of laundry, and take the time to clear lint away from the vent and the back of the dryer at least once a month. Not only will this help keep your home safe, but it can also improve the life span of your dryer.
It is normal for laptops to get warm during regular use. But laptops can overheat when their cooling vents get covered up, and could possibly cause a fire. Avoid leaving your laptop on the bed, couch, or any other surface that might block air flow, or shut it down when it is not in use or leaving it unattended for a significant period of time.
It is not news that paper ignites quickly. Newspapers, magazines, books, and paperwork can easily ignite if stored too close to a heat source. Always store reading materials away from open flames, space heaters, outlets, or radiators. Store them a shelf or in another cool, dry place, and consider tossing out anything that you won't use again so that it doesn't become a hazard in the future.
Heating pads and electrical blankets that are old, damaged, or improperly used can pose a significant risk to your home and your safety. Throw away any pads that have missing covers, tears, cracks, or exposed wires. Avoid bunching pads up during use, and never fall asleep with a heating pad turned on - many older models do not have an auto-off setting, which can lead to serious burns, short-outs, and even fires.
Barbecue charcoal is highly flammable, even when it's damp. The best way to store charcoal is to keep it inside a metal container with an air-tight lid, so that if a fire does start, it won't be able to spread. Keep charcoal in an area that isn't exposed to sunlight or moisture, such as a shed or outdoor storage unit.
Assorted clutter is a surprisingly common source of household fires. Combustible materials that are stored near light fixtures or electrical outlets can easily ignite; clutter in the bedroom is especially dangerous since it gives you less time to react to a potential fire. Avoid stacking clothing or paperwork in a closet with light bulbs, and vacuum regularly so that flammable dust doesn't accumulate around sockets and light fixtures.
Old and outdated appliances are a major fire hazard, even if appear to be functioning properly. Many older appliances do not have the built-in safety features that come with modern models, and pieces may wear out or break down over time with regular use. Check old appliances regularly for worn insulation, exposed wiring, or malfunctioning components.