According to the National Fire Protection Agency, firefighters respond to an average of 353,100 residential structure fires each year in the United States. Although unfortunately becoming more common on the West Coast, wildfires are not among the top causes of residential fires nationally. Surprisingly, the top causes of home fires are very commonplace and by taking simple precautions we can relieve stress from our fire departments, especially during winter and wildfire season in California.
The most common causes of residential and commercial fires can be easily prevented with routine maintenance and by paying attention to heat-producing appliances. The number one cause of fires nationally is cooking-related fires, followed by heating appliance fires, and third electrical fires.
Kitchen equipment left unattended, food catching fire, or other combustible items such as oven mitts left too close to burners/coils are all cited as the primary reasons for kitchen fires. To minimize the risk of cooking fires:
- Do not leave the kitchen unattended while heating elements are on
- Use timers and check food regularly to ensure it is not burning
- Keep any combustibles such as oven mitts, wooden spoons, packaging, and towels away from your stovetop
- Do not use your oven or stovetop while sleepy, on medications that make you drowsy or while inebriated
- If cooking with oil, heat oil slowly and if you see wisps of smoke, turn off the burner immediately as this is a sign that the oil is too hot and may catch fire
Fires caused by heating equipment are the second leading cause of home fires and are the third most common cause of death. Most heating-related fires are caused by leaving combustible items too close to heating equipment, and 81% of heating-related fire deaths involved space heaters. To minimize the danger of heating-related fires:
- Keep combustibles such as blankets, papers, curtains and flammable liquids at least 3 feet away from heating equipment
- Do not balance space heaters on top of beds, shelves, stools or other unstable surfaces where they may get knocked over. Keep space heaters on the smoothest, flattest, uncarpeted part of the floor
- Clean and maintain heating equipment, especially if you have a fireplace with a chimney.
Electrical distribution and lighting equipment failures cause 10% of home fires and 12% of commercial office fires every year. These fires cause much more property damage on average than other fire causes and are perhaps the easiest to avoid as there are warning signs such as discolored outlets, flickering lights, fraying power cords, and more. To reduce the risk of an electrical fire, you should:
- Have all electrical work and inspections done by a qualified electrician, do not do it yourself
- Appliances such as microwaves, hairdryers, toasters and space heaters should be plugged into different outlets
- Do not daisy chain power strips--plugging a power strip into another power strip
- Discolored outlet covers are a sign of electrical issues inside the outlet, and if the prongs of a plug do not fit snugly into an outlet, this can cause the outlet to overheat and potentially catch fire.
Implementing these easy safety tips can make your home or commercial office safer! If you live in an area typically affected by wildfire you should also take extra steps to ensure you are prepared. Sometimes despite our best efforts, fires still happen, and we know fires cause so much more than just structural damage, including water damage and smoke damage and threaten our health. If your property was unfortunately affected by a fire you can rely on Dry Kings Restoration for your remediation needs. Our experienced technicians will know best how to bring your property efficiently and quickly back to pre-loss condition so your life can return to normal. Contact us today with your questions and concerns and let Dry Kings get the job done right.