According to the National Fire Protection Association, in the U.S. there are over 350,000 household fires that resulted in 2,500 deaths per year. While some of these are caused by negligence or faulty equipment, there are many hazards that can start fires in your home you might be ignoring. Here are some common household fire starters that you may have overlooked.
Worrying about leaving the oven on may keep some of us up at night, it could be the things you don’t think about that start a fire. Did you know that non-dairy creamer can catch fire if left close to a heat source? Flour can explode if there is enough in the air, and dried orange peels are extremely flammable. Aerosol sprays are incendiary and can spread a fire quickly. Take care when working in your kitchen to store these items far from heat sources and to keep an eye on them when cooking.
Lurking by your washer and dryer are many combustible substances. In fact, most detergents and fabric softeners can ignite if exposed to a naked flame. Store these safely, and out of reach of children since they are often toxic if swallowed. The real threat in the laundry room, though, is the lint trap. Lint is a dangerous fire hazard when it builds up. This is one of the top reasons house fires start. Check and clean out your lint trap before every load to reduce your risk.
Out of sight and out of mind is most people’s attitude towards the garage. This makes it an ideal place for fires to start without being noticed. Gasoline’s vapors are explosive, and it is often stored in the garage. Additionally, plastic bins are made with petroleum and can be good fuel as they get older. Turpentine and linseed oil (used in polishing wood) are dangerous and can heat up when drying, plus paint thinner can self ignite. Most of these chemicals are stored together, and not often used. Make sure you are properly using and disposing of chemicals in your garage to ensure safety.
While the bathroom isn’t the first place you would think a house fire would start, there are plenty of dangers hiding in those cabinets. Nail polish remover and rubbing alcohol are potential accelerants to a house fire, and tissues burn quickly and are good ignitors. All of these factors in the same room can make a lethal equation. Practice proper disposal, and when lighting candles in the bathroom, never leave them unattended and make sure all matches are properly extinguished!
Around the House
There are some obscure hazards in your house that might surprise you. Black shoe polish uses charcoal for coloring, making it very combustible. Another strange fire starter is ping pong balls. The chemical used to make them is flammable, and as it gets older it gets more volatile.
The best way to make sure your home isn’t in danger is to perform regular safety checks. Change your fire alarm batteries and make sure all hazardous materials are properly stored. To learn more about fire safety and prevention, contact the Maple Plain Fire Department at 763-479-0520.