House fires aren’t just small flames. More than 1,700 Americans have died in home fires this year. That’s more than five deaths every day.
Thankfully, the majority of house fires are preventable. If you study the causes of fires and learn about simple fire prevention strategies, you can protect your home and yourself for years to come.
What are the leading causes of fires, and how can you start preventing fires? What causes fires beside fireplaces? What are some fireplace safety tips you should know about?
Answer these questions and you can keep the flames away without breaking a sweat. Here is your quick guide.
Unplug Appliances You Are Not Using
Many people assume their devices stop using electricity once they are switched off. In reality, an appliance that is plugged into the wall continues to use electricity because it is idling. It can produce sparks, starting a fire.
You should always unplug a device if it is fully charged and you are not using it. You should also shut off any heating equipment in your house, including your HVAC system. These devices can start fires, and shutting them off will save money on your electricity bills.
Electric fireplaces can be more affordable, and they let you bring modern fireplace designs into your home. But you need to turn off the electrical supply running through your fireplace before you leave your home for the day. Talk to your manufacturer about how you can do this.
Check Your Wiring
Though many people are worried about fires that start in their fireplaces, the most common cause of house fires is electrical problems. Old or tangled wiring can produce fires at any moment.
Inspect your electrical system on a regular basis. Keep your eye out for signs of problems like damaged wall outlets and flickering lights.
If you notice a problem, you can unscrew the outlet and take a look at the wires. But do not try to fix the problem yourself, as you may start a fire or shock yourself. Call an electrician to make inspections of your system.
Try to keep electric devices and wiring away from your fireplace. It is okay to have a lighting fixture in the room where your fireplace is, but put the fixture a few feet away from the fireplace.
Move Flammable Materials Away From the Heat
Never place any flammable items near sources of heat. Even if you have papers a few feet away from your fireplace, a spark or ember can fly out and ignite the papers.
Angle your fireplace so it is pointing away from your windows. It is okay to have curtains on your windows, but you should find ones with materials that resist fire, such as vinyl.
Do not store a painting above your fireplace. The painting can fall into the fire, and the heat from the fire can damage your artwork. Hang it on the opposite wall and put it at an angle so it will not get damaged.
Never Leave a Fire Unattended
An unattended fire can spread if you’re not paying attention to it. Never walk away from your fireplace, even if the fire is small or apparently contained.
To put out a fire, you should use your poker to separate the wood from the embers. Flatten the materials in your fireplace out so it’s harder for the sparks to consolidate fuel.
Take cool ash and place it over the embers and wood. Keep going until you do not notice any smoke or glowing embers. You can then spread some baking soda or sand to smother the flames.
Stand by your fireplace for a few minutes to make sure the fire is completely out. If you still notice a few glowing embers, you can spread some more baking soda on them. Do not use your hands to pick them up, and do not use a stick to smother or break them down.
You should also never leave your stove on. Turn it off and remove any hot objects like a pan or hot plate.
Be Careful With Children and Pets
Many children like to play with fire, which can start a blaze and send them to the hospital. Advise your children never to go near the fireplace without your permission. Keep the fireplace poker and other tools out of their reach.
Pets can also run into the fire or knock an object into it. Keep your pets out of the room and install a pet fence around your fireplace to keep them away.
Install a Fireplace Cover
A fireplace cover prevents logs or embers from flying out, and it keeps other items from entering your fireplace. The cover should be big enough to cover the entire front of your fireplace.
Select a screen made with wires or fireproof glass. If you install a glass cover, you should follow fireplace glass safety tips like not touching your cover with your bare hands. Use gloves or your poker to adjust it.
Clean your cover to remove any residue or embers. Follow the instructions of your manufacturer so you don’t scrape or damage the materials. You should also get advice from them on how to use a fireplace.
Stop House Fires
House fires can occur at any moment, and you need to adopt strong measures to prevent them. Unplug your electrical devices and inspect your electrical wiring for any signs of trouble. Separate flammable materials from your appliances and fireplace.
Never turn your back on a fire, and always put flames out. Keep your children and pets away from a fire with a fireplace cover and fence. Use your tools so you don’t get too close to the fire.
If you’re still worried, hire a fireplace professional to help you. Dreifuss Fireplaces serves the Philadelphia area. Contact us today.
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