It can be one of the most devastating experiences a homeowner can go through, but there are a number of things that you can do to prevent your house from catching on fire. A large number of house fires result from people simply not paying attention to what they are doing, neglecting an electrical device, or using one incorrectly.
Can Space Heaters Cause House Fires?
Space heaters are used in the winter in many homes that cannot afford to pay the gas bill or the extra electricity cost that it takes to heat their home, but these are the cause of house fires if they are not used properly. The first thing you need to realize about these devices is that you should never use an extension cord with them unless they are heavy duty. The cord should be a gauge 14 at least or else it will melt. The smaller cords simply cannot handle the amount of electricity needed to power these devices and so, they cause fires.
Something else you should be wary of is putting the heater on a carpeted surface. You can do this with heaters that have a good amount of space between the heating element and the floor, but space heaters with short legs should be used only on non-carpeted floors.
Electric Blankets Can Be A Fire Hazard, Too
Another electrical item that is often misused is the electric blanket. Imagine waking up and the bed being on fire with you in it. That could be mistaken for a nightmare, but it has happened before to people who do not turn their blankets off when they go to sleep. Electric blankets need to be used to warm up the bed only and turned off afterward and they should NEVER be left on their highest setting while you are sleeping under them. You should also not allow pets or children to walk on these, since it can damage the cords inside them and cause them to have shorts.
Grease Fires In The Kitchen
This subject is so important that we have a completely separate article about it. You can read more about kitchen grease fires here.
Cleaning Lint Out Of Your Dryer Vent
If your dryer stops drying your clothes as effectively as it once did, it may not be the dryer going out. It may just be that the vent that goes to the exterior of your house is clogged. If your exterior vent doesn't have a guard of any kind over it, birds and other things can build nests in there and that's not counting any dryer lint that may be stuck in it.
If you have a metal coat hanger, you can bend it and essentially make a rake of sorts to dig debris out of your vent.
To clean the lint out of your dryer from the lint trap in your dryer itself, a vacuum cleaner works well.
Testing Your Smoke Detectors
Smoke detectors are extremely important in stopping a fire in your house from spreading and becoming an outright catastrophe. Fortunately, smoke detectors aren't expensive and they're fairly cheap to maintain. For the cost of a few batteries each year, you can make sure that you catch any fire before it gets too out of hand for you to get out of the house and call the fire department.
Testing them is simple. Press and hold the button on the smoke detector. It should emit a very loud beeping noise. If the sound that comes out of the smoke detector is weak, then you should be replacing the batteries. If there's no sound at all, replace the entire unit.
Replace Or Repair Electrical Cords
If you notice an electrical cord that is damaged, you should replace it if possible. If you cannot replace it, wrap it thoroughly with electrical tape. All electrical cords put off heat, as well, so don't put them underneath rugs or furniture.
Can Candle Warmers Start Fires?
Wax or oil warmers that are used with tea light candles can absolutely start a fire if they are disturbed in any way. This could be anything from kids rough housing to cats or you just bumping into the table they're on. You should never leave these unattended for any reason.
Why You Should Keep A Fire Extinguisher
Even if you still take every precaution you can, sometimes fires are going to happen, anyway. It won't be due to anything you did.
But, keeping an adequate fire extinguisher around can save your home and your life. You can read here about the types of fire extinguishers and their uses.