Common Household Fire Hazards

By
Home Inspector with US Inspect

As part of our continued recognition of National Fire Prevention Month, the following is a guest post brought to us by Sally Wills of FireScienceDegrees.com.

Posted By: Chrissy Doremus, U.S. Inspect Blog


We all know that fire is dangerous and destructive and that the most hazardous aspect of this element is that it can occur within the blink of an eye and threaten both human lives and livelihoods in an instant. What we may not know is that some objects that we use regularly in our homes can be fire hazards. We don’t consider such objects as prone to fire, and so we tend to be more careless when we use them thus increasing the risk of fire destruction and damage. If you want to avoid becoming a victim of fire, you need to be aware of the dangers that the following common household items pose:

  • Fire Safety InformationClothes dryer. You wouldn’t consider this gadget to be a fire hazard, but it’s one of the most common causes of household fires. When an accumulation of lint builds up inside the lint filter and the drying unit gets too hot, it could flame up and destroy everything in the vicinity. To prevent this from happening, clean the lint filter after every drying cycle. If your clothes are still damp when you remove them from the dryer or if the appliance seems to run slower than usual, it’s time to clean out the lint filter. 
  • Hairdryers and curling irons. The hairdryer fire works on the same principle as the clothes dryer – there’s a tiny screen behind the blower which tends to fill up with lint and so pose a fire hazard. As with the dryer, you must clean it regularly to prevent your hair catching fire and inflicting serious injury and even death. Curling irons are high voltage appliances that could cause fires if they’re not used carefully.
  • Built-in Ovens. There are reports of the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) recalling certain models of these ovens because they caused nearby wooden cabinets to catch fire when used in the self-cleaning mode. So get your oven checked and certified as completely safe before using it. 
  • Light bulbs. There are many ways in which the common light bulb could become a fire hazard. For one, if you plug in a bulb of higher wattage into a holder that is designed for a smaller capacity, you’re asking for trouble. And for another, if you place clothes and other flammable objects close to a naked light bulb in hot corners, they could easily catch fire. Also be careful when putting shades on lamps – if the unit is not steady because the lampshade is too big for the stalk, you risk a fire if you knock the lamp down by mistake. 
  • Electric blanket. While most of these appliances are safe to use, they tend to heat up abnormally when set to a high temperature to beat the cold and tucked in as well. They can catch fire if they get too hot.

There’s no doubt that fire is of great use to mankind, but it can quickly turn against us. If we do not respect its power, it can take control and destroy the things that we love. So be proactive and use the above tips to help protect your family and your home.

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This has been a guest post contributed by Shannon Wills, she writes on the topic of fire science degrees. She welcomes your comments at her email: sallyd@firesciencedegree.com.

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Rainmaker
202,444
Rob Proctor
At Home Real Estate Company - Loveland, CO
GRI ePro

good information Chrissy. Don't forget to clean the dryer vent from the dyer connection point to the outside. I had a duct cleaning contractor tell me about the stories he has see when you don't clean that too.

Oct 14, 2010 11:11 AM #1
Rainmaker
147,657
Chrissy Doremus ~ US Inspect ~
US Inspect - Chantilly, VA
Residential & Commercial Property Inspections

You are exactly right, Rob. Here is a tip from another blog post I've done in the past:

Clean Dryer Vents—Did you know that fires can occur when lint builds up in a dryer or in the exhaust duct? Lint can block the flow of air, cause excessive heat build-up, and result in a fire in some dryers, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission. So, clean behind the dryer, where lint can build up, and disconnect the duct to remove any build-up. Be sure to reconnect the ducting to the dryer and outside vent before using the dryer again!

Oct 14, 2010 11:19 AM #2
Rainmaker
404,880
Ellen Caruso
Daniel Gale Sotheby's International Realty - Glen Head, NY

Chrissy, great info... I'm one who unplugs everything before going on vacation, and never leaves the house with the dryer, dishwasher or coffee pot on!

Oct 14, 2010 12:26 PM #3
Rainmaker
471,277
Cara Marcelle Mancuso
Long Realty - Dove Mountain, Marana AZ - Tucson, AZ
Call a Marana neighbor, I'm THERE!

Wonderful resource and information.  I was the victim of a fire Christmas Eve Night back in the nineties.  The fire had started at my neighbors, travelled through the walls, and gutted my home.  I was away keeping a friend company her first Christmas alone and came home to 'nothing'.  Your simple precautions can save a LOT of heartbreak.

Oct 14, 2010 12:40 PM #4
Rainmaker
147,657
Chrissy Doremus ~ US Inspect ~
US Inspect - Chantilly, VA
Residential & Commercial Property Inspections

Oh Cara, what a sad story. It's the tragedy all of us want to avoid but think will never happen to us :( Fire is just another one of those things that so many of us just don't prepare for (myself included). How many of us can truthfully say that we do family fire drills? Or always make sure our dryer vents are free of lint? Yet, we know that they are so important. Thanks for sharing your story with us.

Oct 14, 2010 02:39 PM #5
Rainmaker
336,590
Mike McCann - Nebraska Land Broker
Mike McCann - Broker, Based in Kearney & Serving Rural Nebraska - Kearney, NE
Nebraska Farm Land For Sale 308-627-3700

Ouch cara...sorry to hear that.  I am glad you shared this blog Chrissy.  I wish that kids were required to learn more about electricity and the positives and negatives of it...pun intended.

every item you mentioned above has have electricity to work correctly.

I have seen a hair dryer, that was dropped, catch on fire despite the fan blowing. Can you imagine what that would do to a head of hair? 

I have seen many electrical fires over the years and I truly believe that most people think it is just there in the walls...and they are not aware how dangerous that convenient invention can be. And of course they see birds sitting on the high wires so they do not think those are dangerous.

Oct 14, 2010 04:12 PM #6
Ambassador
496,602
Chris Alston
Chris Alston (Keller Williams Realty, Cupertino California) - Cupertino, CA
Silicon Valley, California

What a gredat list!  When I see your picture, I always wonder who the little hand belongs to... :)

Oct 14, 2010 08:11 PM #7
Rainmaker
147,657
Chrissy Doremus ~ US Inspect ~
US Inspect - Chantilly, VA
Residential & Commercial Property Inspections

It is the big mystery after all isn't it, Chris? :) That would be my daughter, she's 20 months old. I used to write about her all the time in my posts (on a previous blog), I'll have to "bring her back!" As far as profile pictures goes, it's impossible to find any recent pics that DON'T have that little hand--hahah.

Oct 15, 2010 08:12 AM #8
Rainmaker
201,298
Marzena Melby
Coldwell Banker Burnet Realty - Richfield, MN
Realtor, Twin Cities Minnesota Real Estate

Chrissy - Regarding your daughter, is she attached to you by Velcro?!... lol

Oct 15, 2010 10:57 AM #9
Rainmaker
147,657
Chrissy Doremus ~ US Inspect ~
US Inspect - Chantilly, VA
Residential & Commercial Property Inspections

It seems so...more like magnetic force...wherever I walk she's under my feet...on my leg... :)

Oct 15, 2010 11:03 AM #10
Rainmaker
362,682
Ilyce Glink
Think Glink Media - Chicago, IL
Best-selling author, award-winning TV/radio host.

Your fire prevention posts have been really helpful. Some of these items (like electric blankets) are inconspicuous enough, but they can cause serious issues.

Thanks again.

Oct 15, 2010 12:01 PM #11
Rainmaker
147,657
Chrissy Doremus ~ US Inspect ~
US Inspect - Chantilly, VA
Residential & Commercial Property Inspections

Thanks Ilyce--everyone be sure to check out my latest National Fire Prevention Month post: Family Fire Escape Plan

Oct 15, 2010 02:58 PM #12
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