According to the National Fire Protection Association, U.S. fire departments responded to an estimated average of 357,000 home structure fires per year during 2009-2013. Cooking equipment was the leading cause of home structure fires and home fire injuries.
Smoking was the leading cause of civilian home fire deaths. Heating equipment was the second most common cause of home fire fatalities.
Here is the list of top 10 causes of house fires, provided by ServiceMaster Of San Francisco:
1] Cooking equipment
When a pot or pan overheats or splatters it can take seconds to cause a fire. Stay in the kitchen when cooking.
2] Heating equipment
Keep portable heaters at least one meter away from anything that can burn and don’t use your heaters to dry shoes or clothes.
3] Careless smoking
Make the bedroom off limits to smoking and never forget to extinguish your cigarette. Never place an ashtray on or near anything that will burn.
4] Electrical equipment
Ensure the following:
– Your electrical appliances don’t have loose or frayed cords/ plugs.
– Your outlets aren’t overloaded with plugs.
– You’re not running electrical wires under rugs or heavy furniture.
– You’re not overusing an extension cord.
Keep candles in a sturdy holder on a level surface, away from combustible materials and out of reach of children or pets.
6] Children playing with fire
Children cause fires out of curiosity. Kids may be involved in fire play if you find matches or lighters in their room/possession, smell sulfur in their room, and/or find toys or other personal effects that appear melted/singed.
7] Inadequate wiring
Older homes and apartments can have inadequate wiring – a fire and an electrical hazard. Some warning signs:
– You have to disconnect one appliance to plug in another.
– You have to use extension cords or “octopus” outlets extensively.
– Fuses blow or circuit breakers trip frequently.
– Lights dim when you use another appliance.
8] Flammable liquids
Flammable liquids; fuels, solvents, cleaning agents, thinners, adhesives, paints, and other raw materials can ignite or explode if stored improperly.
9] Christmas tree/ Decorations
Keep the tree in a stand that will hold 2-3 liters of water, and top it up daily. Keep the tree away from all heat sources, including radiators, furnace ducts, television sets, and fireplaces.
As part of regular maintenance, clean removable parts with soapy water.
Fire safety tips
- Keep an all-purpose fire extinguisher in your kitchen (one rated for grease fires and electrical fires.)
- It’s a good idea to keep fire extinguishers near the furnace, garage, and anywhere else a fire may start. These extinguishers are affordable, life-saving equipment for your home.
- Make sure every able-bodied member of the family is trained and familiar with the proper way to use the fire extinguishers.
- If you must use an extinguisher, make sure you have a clear way out in the event you can’t put out the fire.
Safety in the Kitchen:
- Never leave cooking unattended.
- Keep combustibles away from your stove.
- Pot holders should be in easy reach while cooking.
- Pot handles should be turned inward to avoid spilling.
- For appliances, use only heavy-duty cords extension cords that are specifically made for appliances.
- The range hood or vent kept free of built-up grease.
- Radios, televisions and small electric appliances located safely away from the sink.
- A list of emergency numbers located prominently near the phone.
- Grills should be used safely and at least ten feet from your home.
Prevent Fires Caused by Candles:
- Never leave burning candles unattended. Do not allow children to keep candles or incense in their rooms.
- Always use stable, candle holders made of material that won’t catch fire, such as metal, glass, etc.
- Blow out candles when adults leave the room.
Prevent Fires Caused by Gasoline and Other Products:
- Store gasoline in a garage or shed in a container approved for gasoline storage.
- Never bring or use gasoline indoors; and use it as a motor fuel only.
- Close the lid on all dangerous products and put them away after using them.
- Store them away from the home and in a safe place with a lock.
- Don’t plug in too many appliances at once.
- If you have a fireplace, use a screen.
- Make sure the fire is completely out before you go to sleep or leave the house.
- Dispose of materials used to light or fuel the fire in non-flammable containers.
- Don’t store anything flammable near the fireplace.
- Install a chimney spark resistor cap to prevent roof fires.
- Have your chimney cleaned and inspected every year.
If your home or business in San Francisco has been damaged in a fire, do not hesitate to contact ServiceMaster of San Francisco at (415) 805-9699.