Household fire hazards can cause fires, allow fires to spread or prevent the extinguishment of the fire quickly and safely.
Hazards That Cause Fires
Any items that produce heat, a spark or a flame can cause a fire. Common sources of house fires include heaters, stoves, matches/lighters or electricity. It is important to keep any items that are flammable away from any sources of heat or flame.
Hazards That Allow a Fire to Spread
Chemicals or combustibles that are haphazardly stored in a house can contribute to the spreading of a fire. Homes tend to have storage areas for seasonal items or keepsakes. Storage by itself is not a hazard, but storage too close to a heat source, such as a furnace, or loose storage of easily combustible items, like boxes and clothing can be. The neater and tighter the storage is arranged, the harder it is for a fire to spread using that fuel.
Storage of flammables, such as gasoline, inside a home is inviting a disaster. Flammables have invisible vapors, which can be released if the container is left open or spills. The vapors or the chemical itself can move around until it finds a source of ignition. Therefore, individuals should properly store these chemicals in a tight container preferably outside of the home. A gallon of gasoline can have the explosive power of several sticks of dynamite.
A commonly unrealized hazard for fire spread is on the outside of the home. Trees, shrubs, mulch and decorative yard trim can allow a small fire in the yard to spread to the house. Watering the trees, shrubs, mulch and grass will reduce this hazard. Trimming the trees and shrubs so that they do not come in contact with your house, especially under an overhang, deck or porch will limit the ability of a fire to spread. Keeping the gutters free of dead leaves and other debris will also reduce the spread of a fire.
Hazards That Limit Your Ability to Respond to a Fire
In a fire, seconds count. You have undoubtedly heard of the benefits of having smoke alarms in your home, and having and practicing a home escape plan. But have you thought about how housekeeping can impact the effectiveness of these?
When you practiced your home escape drill did you test all your windows to make sure everyone in your house could open them easily? Do the doors to the bedrooms close and latch so as to give you time to use your second exit? These are just some of the things to look at as you do your practice drills.
Responding to a fire may mean trying to fight or control the fire. If you have fire extinguishers, are they checked regularly to make sure that the pressure gauge is still in the green area? It is recommended that fire extinguishers are tested or replaced every two years. If you store the extinguisher on a shelf or under a counter, can you get it out quickly? If a fire starts in an electrical appliance you may be able to control it by shutting off the circuit, so make sure you can quickly get to the circuit breaker box. Closing the door to a room can slow the spread of a fire. Make sure you don’t have furniture blocking the door.
Basically, when you plan your escape from your home look for anything that can change your ability to stop the fire or get out quickly.
For more information on home hazards you can contact the Liberty Fire Department at 816.439.4310.