10 Causes of Fire Damage in Homes: What to Look Out For
A fire can cause significant damage to a home and its contents. The size of the blaze and the materials burned will determine how much destruction is caused by a fire, but there are several other factors that can contribute to how bad the outcome is for your property.
If you’re thinking about purchasing homeowners insurance, knowing what could trigger fire damage in your home is key to getting the right coverage.
1. Cooking Fires
Cooking fires are the leading cause of structure fires in the U.S., according to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA). They usually start when food or cooking equipment is left unattended, and can quickly spread if not extinguished properly.
2. Heating Equipment
Fires caused by heating equipment are more common in the winter months, when people are using their furnaces and fireplaces more often. Make sure your furnace is properly maintained and that any flammable materials are kept away from your fireplace.
3. Electrical Issues
Faulty electrical wiring is a common cause of house fires. If you have old wiring in your home, it’s important to have it checked by a professional to make sure it’s up to code. Also, be careful not to overload outlets and extension cords.
Cigarette smoking is one of the leading causes of fire deaths in the U.S., according to the NFPA. If you smoke, always use a deep, sturdy ashtray and never leave lit cigarettes unattended.
Candles are a common cause of house fires, especially during the holidays when they’re used more often. Always blow out candles before leaving the room or going to bed.
Children are curious by nature and can cause fires in the home by playing with matches or lighters, or by putting flammable items like paper into the stove or fireplace. It’s important to teach your children about fire safety and to supervise them when they’re in the kitchen or near other potential fire hazards.
Pets can cause fires in the home by knocking over candles, lamps, or other sources of heat or ignition. They can also chewing on electrical cords, which can lead to a short circuit and start a fire.
8. Dryers and Washing Machines
Fires can start in clothes dryers and washing machines when lint builds up in the exhaust ducts and ignites. Be sure to clean the lint trap after every load of laundry, and have your dryer vent professionally cleaned at least once a year.
9. Lawn Care Equipment
Flammable liquids like gasoline and oil are often used in lawn care equipment, and spills can easily ignite if they come into contact with a heat source. Be sure to store flammable liquids in proper containers and keep them away from any potential sources of ignition.
If you have a gas or charcoal grill, it’s important to use it safely to avoid a fire. Be sure to keep flammable materials like paper plates and napkins away from the grill, and never leave it unattended while it’s lit.
How to Avoid Fire Damage in Your Home
To help avoid fire damage in your home, the Insurance Information Institute (III) recommends taking the following precautions:
Cooking: Don’t leave food unattended while cooking, and keep flammable items like paper towels and potholders away from the stove.
Heating: Have your furnace serviced regularly, and keep flammable materials like rugs and furniture at least three feet away from your fireplace.
Electrical: Don’t overload outlets or extension cords, and have faulty wiring checked by a professional.
Smoking: Use a deep, sturdy ashtray for cigarettes, and never leave lit cigarettes unattended.
Candles: Blow out candles before leaving the room or going to bed.
Children: Teach children about fire safety, and never leave them unsupervised near potential fire hazards.
Pets: Keep flammable materials like paper away from pets, and never leave them unsupervised near potential sources of ignition.
Dryers and washing machines: Clean the lint trap after every load of laundry, and have your dryer vent professionally cleaned at least once a year.
Lawn care equipment: Store flammable liquids in proper containers, and keep them away from any potential sources of ignition.
Barbecues: Keep flammable materials like paper plates and napkins away from the grill, and never leave it unattended while it’s lit.
Taking these precautions can help you avoid a fire in your home, but it’s also important to have adequate insurance coverage in case of a fire. Make sure your homeowners' insurance policy covers the cost of repairing or rebuilding your home, and consider purchasing additional coverage for personal belongings like clothing, furniture, and electronics.
A fire can cause extensive damage to your home, but there are ways to prevent it. Be sure to practice safe cooking, heating, and electrical habits, and always use candles, grills, and other potential fire hazards with caution. If you have a fire in your home, make sure you have adequate insurance coverage to help rebuild or repair your home and replace your
However, no matter how many precautions you take, accidents can still happen. That’s why it’s important to have an escape plan in case of a fire. Be sure everyone in your family knows how to get out of the house quickly and safely, and practice your escape route regularly.
With a little bit of knowledge and preparation, you can help prevent fire damage in your home.
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