When you hear of a fire in a house in your neighborhood, you might tell yourself, “It must have been something obvious like someone left the stove on or someone didn’t put a cigarette out.” But, the scary truth is that there are surprising fire hazards all around your home that you might not be aware of. A home-automated system will detect smoke or fire the moment it breaks out, and not only in obvious areas like the kitchen or near the fireplace. Here are some surprising fire hazards around your home.
Refrigerator, microwave, and anything with a plug
Any time dust accumulates on active plugs you have a fire hazard. Your more lived in areas like your kitchen and living room naturally accumulate the most dust. Between meals, movie nights, and dogs running around, dust piles up daily. These are also the areas where you have big items like flat screen televisions, video games, refrigerators, microwaves and more. Make sure to regularly dust behind all of these appliances, and dust off their chords. Getting behind the refrigerator to clean can be a pain, but it can save your home from a fire. If you have an elaborate entertainment area with large speakers, a big TV, gaming systems and more, keep these chords clean.
Space heaters and extension chords
Space heaters are very convenient but unfortunately also very dangerous. Do not plug these in on a carpeted area, as loose pieces of the carpet can get caught in the heater and catch fire. Keep the heater away from floor length curtains, which could blow in the direction of the heater and catch fire. But the most surprising risk of a space heater is how you plug it in. Always plug space heaters directly into the wall. Most standard extension chords are too weak to handle the immense amount of power a space heater sucks up, and they can catch fire or melt from the heat.
Depending on how much you use your fireplace, your chimney can become jammed with all sorts of flammable deposits. Even if you rarely do use your fireplace, keep in mind that things can come in from the outside and get trapped in your chimney, like a bird’s nest. Have your chimney professional cleaned and inspected annually. Also, don’t burn anything other than firewood in your fireplace. If you throw old newspaper or other types of trash in there, flaming particles can fly out of your chimney and land on something in your yard, setting it on fire.
Cleaning out the lint trap isn’t just to keep unsightly lint balls off of your clothing. The lint trap is also a heat trap, accumulating highly flammable lint and dust that reaches very high temperatures every time you run your dryer. It is important for your safety that you thoroughly clean the lint trap before every run of the machine. You also want to look behind your dryer as most modern models ventilate outside of the machine. Behind your dyer you have large electrical chords, all tangled up and crisscrossing; if these get covered in lint, they become a major fire hazard every time both your machines run (washer or dryer) because the chords heat up while in use, thereby heating up the lint and dust on top of them. Clean that area thoroughly and regularly.
Your stove isn’t just dangerous because of the flame on top of it or hot plates; think of all the crumbs, grease and pieces of food that fly off a pan or pot every time you cook. It’s tempting to think, “What’s the point of cleaning it if I’m just going to get more food on it at the next meal?” but food debris and grease left on a stove are huge fire hazards. If you have an old fashioned stove with an open flame, that flame could reach some grease left on the stove top and set off a grease fire in an instant—these spread rapidly and can be dangerous. Even if the flame catches a small crumb, which then catches on fire, with nobody around to see that, that crumb can become a big fire. Even if you don’t have flames on your stove, the area surrounding the hot plates heats up when the stove is in use, which can set leftover crumbs on fire. Clean your stove daily if possible.
If you think about it, you’re constantly surrounded by heat in your home, between appliances you intentionally heat up (like curling irons) and those that heat up incidentally during use. Installing a smoke and fire detection system with your home automated system could save your life.