The ancestors of the human race were fascinated by fire. They understood the value that it held for their basic needs (light and cooking). Although we don’t live in such a primitive state today, it is still utilized. Without fire, we couldn’t blow glass, melt steel, cook food, or heat as many homes. Lighters are often found in many people’s pockets and in their homes’ drawers. Yet, fire can be just as destructive as it is useful. The potential for things to catch on fire is everywhere, although many people fail to recognize this possibility. It’s impossible to predict fires, but it’s entirely feasible to eliminate conditions that are known for starting and fueling fires.
Included are four ways that every homeowner and renter can rely on to lower the chance of house fires. Now, let’s peer further into these life-saving tips.
Check Water Heaters
People often forget about their much-needed, trusty water heaters. Without water heaters, people living in homes couldn’t take hot, warm, or even lukewarm showers. Instead, it would be very cold water we’d be bathing in. Homeowners and renters alike should test the external temperature of their water heating units, replacing it if exceeding 120 degrees Fahrenheit. The release valve, located near the bottom of the tank, should be tested twice yearly by completely emptying the tank. If you find it doesn’t work properly, consider hiring a maintenance man or purchasing a new water heater. This may be something that you might think isn’t too important. However, appliances (including gas water heaters) are responsible for about seven percent of home fires. Although that’s a small percentage, that’s still enough for you to be worried about. Make sure that you’re checking your water heater on a regular basis to ensure that it is working properly.
Familiarize Yourself with Proper Cooking Techniques
In 2016, the number-one root of residential house fires was cooking. Even though many adults think cooking is harmless, that sentiment is far from true. Residents and employees alike should never leave warm dishes unattended, refrain from using appliances with frayed cords, and only cook on clean stovetops, among several other provisions.
Some things that you should avoid doing are as follows:
- Inserting anything that has metal on it in the microwave
- Cooking directly on the stovetop without a pot or pan
- Letting any alcohol that you cook with spill outside of whatever you’re cooking in
- Overusing the stove (this is especially important if you’re using an older stove)
Inspect Appliances’ Power Supplies and Extension Cords
Did you know that those in the United States use electricity as a fuel source far more than any other country? It makes sense due to how large our population is, but there are still some things that you should take note of. Most household appliances requiring fuel run on electricity, with stoves, water heaters, and others requiring fire to operate have been outdated for years, all but replaced by modern models. While electricity is safer than burning natural gas or petroleum inside homes and businesses for using computers or changing smartphones, live electrical connections can cause fire.
Throw out all appliances with exposed, frayed, or damaged power cords. Don’t be scared to toss outdated extension cords, either.
Don’t Throw Water on Grease Fires
Grease is composed entirely of lipids, which don’t mix with water. Although water puts out most fires, applying water to grease fires will undoubtedly spread them. That is why you should keep flour, baking soda, or baby powder on hand in your kitchen for suffocating cooking grease fires.
Child Proof Everything
How many times have you told your child not to do something and that is exactly what they go and do the second you turn your back on them? This is all too common. You’ve probably even found yourself having to tell your child not to play with the outlets around your home. Curious, your child may have even gone and done just that that only to find the result electrically shocking.
Perhaps they’ve even tried putting things into the outlets’ holes—like paper, paper clips, tacks or anything that they can get their hands on and be determined to put in there. This could be dangerous because it can cause a fire. That is why you should make sure to put plastic covers on all of the outlets throughout your home. Although this may seem inconvenient for you as you will have to keep taking them off every time you need to vacuum or plug in your computer, it is worth it in the long run. When your child is old enough to understand why they shouldn’t play with the outlets and you can trust that they won’t, then feel free to take off the covers.
Keep Your House Clean
By keeping your house clean, you can prevent a lot of things from happening that could possibly be harmful to your home. If you don’t keep your kitchen appliances clean, for example, then that could be hazardous and a fire could possibly happen if you let all of the gunk and food pile up. If an electrical outlet sparks for some reason, you don’t want that spark hitting anything flammable—like paper—and so it’s important to keep the floors picked up. The same goes especially for if you like to light candles around your home or have a fire going in the fireplace. It’s not that your home needs to be completely litter free, but you just need to make sure that your house isn’t becoming like a hoarders (if one thing catches on fire there is not containing that type of environment). A few chores here and there can keep you, your house and your family free of fires.
House fires claim over 358,300 homes in the United States every year. From 2010 to 2014, such fire-related accidents caused 2,560 civilian deaths. Thoroughly educating one’s self or fire-safe household practices and engaging in fire safety walkthroughs are both highly likely to prevent, or at least mitigate, residential housing fires.
Hannah Whittenly is a freelance writer and mother of two from Sacramento, CA. She enjoys kayaking and reading books by the lake. For your water heater needs, Hannah recommends First Class Plumbing of Florida Inc.