Insurance Blog
Tuesday, 22 January 2019 15:06

Top 3 Causes of House Fires

Home Fires Peak During Winter Months

According to the National Fire Protection Agency (NFPA) the number one cause of home structure fires and home fire injuries is cooking equipment. But there are two other top causes as well. Learn how to prevent these major cause of home fires.

#1 Cause of House Fires: Kitchen Cooking

  • Don’t leave a hot cooking surface unattended - stay in the kitchen while cooking. Whether it’s a pot on the stove or an electric griddle, you need to be close by.
    • If you have to leave the room, take the pot off the stove or turn off the griddle first.
  • Don’t leave anything flammable near the stove or oven. Make sure curtains don’t hang over the stove, and never rest towels or a cookbook on the stove. Keep a kitchen fire extinguisher readily available and know how to use it.
  • Keep your stove and oven clean. Built up food splatter or grease can later ignite when the stove or oven is turned on for cooking.

Cooking hazards are not the only cause of kitchen fires. Non-cooking related fires commonly involve refrigerators, freezers, or dishwashers.

The following tips can help prevent non-cooking related fires from occurring in your kitchen.

  • Plug all kitchen appliances, including microwaves, toasters and coffee makers, directly into a wall outlet. Never use an extension cord as it can overheat and cause a fire.
  • Use the right outlet for the right appliance. For larger appliances, such as ovens and refrigerators, be sure to only use properly grounded outlets with circuits that match the rating plate on the appliance. If you have older 2-prong outlets in other locations of your kitchen, have a qualified electrician replace it with a properly grounded 3-prong outlet. Do not use an adapter.
  • Replace any power cords that become frayed or otherwise damaged. Never use a cord that shows cracks or other damage.
  • When moving kitchen appliances, be aware of power cords. Rolling over or pinching power cords can damage them.
  • Unplug small appliances when not in use.
  • Keep your stove and oven clean. Built up food splatter or grease can later ignite when the stove or oven is turned on for cooking.
  • Check and clean stove hoods and filters regularly. If your stove hood vents externally, make sure insects or birds do not build nests or otherwise impede air flow through it.
  • Never use a gas or propane oven to heat your home. Not only is this a fire hazard, but it can also give off toxic gases.
  • Generator users click here for generator safety tips.

NFPA Cooking Safety Video

NOTE: Clothes Dryers Are Also A Common Source of House Fires

Whether installed in a kitchen or other room in the house another appliance, the clothes dryer, may also start a fire. Follow these presentation tips to keep your home safe:

  • If you are installing your own dryer vent, follow the directions in the manufacturer’s installation instructions, using the recommended duct material.
  • If you are unsure about how to properly install the vent, consider hiring a professional to do the installation.
  • Clean out the dryer vent regularly.
  • Clean out the lint filter after each load.
  • Lint may also collect under and behind your dryer, so do not forget to clean these areas.


#2 Cause of Home Fires: Home Heating Equipment

Heating equipment is the second most common cause of home fire fatalities, with half of home heating fires reported during the months of December, January, and February. Home fires are caused by gas oil heat burners as well as alternative heating sources such as wood stoves and fireplaces.

Gas Furnaces

When a gas furnace is poorly maintained, the most likely consequence is a house fire. The furnace’s venting system can cause the natural gas to leak into the air of your home — since gas is very volatile, the simple lighting of a candle or a match can cause an explosion and set the whole house on fire.

Oil Furnaces

While oil furnaces are typically reliable — many newer models can detect when something is amiss and shut off automatically — they aren’t without risk. And when problems happen, the results can be devastating.

Because most furnaces involve burning fuel to generate heat, they generate carbon monoxide. That natural but deadly odorless gas is supposed to vent harmlessly out of your house. But a furnace — particularly an older one — can develop cracks that allow the gas to escape into your home.

In order to make your whole house warm, a furnace has to generate very high temperatures. Those high temperatures combined with fuel bring the possibility of fire, so store combustibles like paint thinners and gasoline away from your furnace, the Air-Conditioning, Heating, and Refrigeration Institute (AHRI) advises.

The best way to ensure your safety is to have your heating systems inspected and maintained annually. Also, install smoke detectors as well as a carbon monoxide detector near the sleeping areas in your home. Make sure the alarm is loud enough to wake you.

Fireplaces, Wood Stoves And Pellet Stoves - Poorly Maintained Chimneys Pose A Fire Hazard

  • Have your chimney inspected annually by a Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA)-certified chimney sweep. Have a professional clean and repair the chimney as needed, especially before the cold months, when you will be using it frequently.
  • Use seasoned wood only. Never burn green or damp wood.
  • Never burn cardboard boxes, wrapping paper, trash or trees in your fireplace—these can all spark chimney fires.

Alternative Heating Sources May Create A Fire Hazard

Avoid using an older space heater, as it may not have adequate safety features compared to newer units. When purchasing a new space heater, ensure it is UL Listed and pay attention to the safety features.

  • Do not place a space heater near furniture, curtains or other objects that could easily catch fire.
  • If you plan to install an alternative heating system, such as a wood or pellet stove, follow the manufacturer's instructions. If you are unsure about how to properly install the system, consider hiring a professional to do the installation.
  • Before installing a wood or pellet stove, check to ensure it complies with the laws of your state and municipality.

Regardless of the type of primary heating you use in your home, an annual inspection and maintenance will reduce your risk of fire.


#3 Cause Of Home Fires: Faulty Wiring and Outlets

According to statistics for 2014, the  U.S. Fire Administration reports that electrical fires accounted for 6.3 percent of all residential fires -- nearly 24,000 fires -- 11 percent of the fires resulted in death, and 7 percent of the fires caused injury.

The months with the most electrical fires are December and January due to increased use of heating appliances and lights. FireRescue1 reports that most electrical fires start in the bedroom, but the highest number of fatalities occur with fires located in the living room, family room, and den.

  • Check the electrical cords throughout your home for signs of fraying, and replace all frayed wires.
  • Do not pinch or cover electrical cords with items such as rugs.
  • Be aware of the capacity of your home's electrical system. Do not overload your circuits. If you have questions about your home's electrical system, you may want to consult a licensed electrician.
  • Understand the difference between surge protectors and power strips—both allow you to plug in multiple electronic devices, but only the surge protector will help protect these devices from a power spike. Use surge protectors to protect valuable electronic devices, such as computers and televisions.


Minimize Your Risk Of Fire At Home

Fire damage can be devastating, but you can minimize the risk of fire in your home when you make these practices part of your fire safety plan and review them regularly.


Have A Question About Your Homeowners' Insurance Coverage?

If you have made major improvements to your home, such as adding a new room, enclosing a porch or expanding a kitchen or bathroom, you risk being underinsured if you haven't reported the increase in square footage to your insurance company. If you have built a new structure outside of your home (e.g. a gazebo, a new shed for your tools or installed a pool or hot tub), let's talk about how those changes may affect your policy.

Additionally, if you have made any major purchases, including gifts (jewelry/diamond ring, artwork, or computer), call us about either increasing the amount of insurance you have for your personal possessions or purchasing an umbrella policy for these items. An umbrella policy provides you with higher and broader coverage for these items than you have under your homeowners' policy.

Taking the time to review your coverage will help to ensure that you have adequate replacement coverage. Give us a call at 800-590-5383 with any questions or concerns that you may have regarding your homeowners' insurance. We'll be happy to help you review your current policy and answer your questions.


Read 6377 times Last modified on Friday, 25 October 2019 03:59

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