There are many obvious fire hazards: faulty wiring, unattended candles, smoking in the home. But there are quite a few hazards that aren’t so noticeable. Even when you think you’re being careful, some dangers come as a surprise. Household fires are devastating and costly. Here are a few lesser known hazards you should watch out for.
Some older or smaller homes have closets with a single incandescent light bulb. You know the kind, with a simple pull chain. These bulbs give off a lot of heat when turned on and can be dangerous if the closet is littered with junk. Old papers, cotton clothing, and other flammable items could catch fire if too close to the bulb for a long period of time. Keep your closets clean and use recessed fluorescent bulbs or replace them with an energy-efficient LED bulb.
Clusters of debris can easily catch fire if near a heat source, such as an electrical outlet or floor heater. Make sure you dust on a regular basis, not just to keep your home clean, but to avoid the danger of a fire.
Household pets can easily knock over candles. Some can even turn on the stove accidentally. Be observant of your pet’s actions. You also need to watch for other destructive animals, such as rats or mice that can chew through electrical wires.
Think twice before tossing that oily rag in the corner of your garage after you’re done with your project. Wet oil on the rag can produce heat, so hang or lay them out so they can dry completely. Then submerge them in water and keep in a safe storage bin.
Though rare, if the sun hits a window, vase, jar, or other glass item at a very precise angle, the light and radiating heat can cause a fire. Avoid putting glass items on windowsills or in direct sunlight.
Electronics can get very hot if not properly ventilated. Keep laptops on top of a desk or a mat specifically designed for computers. Try to avoid using a laptop on soft surfaces like a couch or bed for extended periods of time.
Electric appliances are one of the most common causes of house fires, but most people think of ovens or stoves as the culprit, not dishwashers. They do generate heat and water can drip out onto the appliance’s wires. Always make sure the dishwasher is operating correctly and safely before use.
Again, appliances are a common causes of fires, but crumbs and dust that collects in the bottom of a toaster is a less obvious hazard. Clean it out every once in a while by flipping it over and shaking out the crumbs and built-up dust. The heat generated every time you use the toaster can ignite those scraps and the danger only increases with every use.
Nine-volt batteries, specifically. Their positive and negative terminals are located on the same side, so the likelihood of both terminals touching a metal object at the same time and producing heat is higher than other types of batteries. Store the nine-volts in safe containers or bags. You could also cover the terminals with duct or electrical tape.
Stuffed in a cluttered drawer, matches and lighters can easily ignite if rubbed against an object the wrong way. Store them in a safe place, away from the clutter and keep out of reach of children, who may not know any better and light one of them accidentally.
Of course you should always make sure your smoke alarms are on and working properly and batteries should be replaced twice a year.