If you’ve ever said to yourself “it’ll never happen to me” about anything, then watch out. Life has a way of surprising us, and no one’s invincible. Sometimes fires can spread because of nature, sometimes because of careless personal accidents or sometimes because of the negligence of our next door neighbors. It’s important to be prepared, and fire is like everything else: sometimes knowledge is power. These are some of the common causes of house fires, so read on to see if you’re making any mistakes that could leave you homeless.
Distraction is the number one cause of house fires. This can remain true in several situations. If you’re a lover of candles, you need to remain absolutely vigilant. If candles are left near flammable materials, a fire may result. However, sometimes store-bought candles come in glass containers. These can crack or break, spilling wax and flame all over the place. Make it a routine to keep candles burning for only so long, then extinguish them. You’re giving your body a break, too: left burning for hours on end, candles can be carcinogenic.
People are also prone to distraction while they cook. We live in an era of kitchen TVs and smartphones that force our attention away from the task at hand. Cooking fires can be even more dangerous because people don’t know how to properly extinguish them. First, extinguish the source of the flame. If you’re cooking with oil or grease, do not use water to put out the flame! Cover the fire with another pot or pan, or, alternatively, dump baking soda on it. For larger fires, use salt!
These two causes of house fires can also result in a pretty terrible burn injury. If you get hurt while trying to put out a fire, seek medical attention right away.
Smoking is also a great way to distract yourself. Many smokers don’t pay attention to where the cigarette lands after they flick it away, and this leads to a number of unexpected fires. Try to smoke outside, and be sure to have a dedicated waste receptacle for cigarette butts.
It’s important to do routine spot checks of any electrical device you own. Make sure the wiring isn’t frayed or defective. All it takes is a single spark to burn your house down, and you’d be surprised how common those sparks can be–especially if you own pets that like to chew on things when you’re not looking. Avoid using water on electrical fires. These are best extinguished by removing the oxygen, but remember to pull the plug first.
If you have kids, teach them about fire safety as early as possible. Inquiring minds want to know, and even as adults–fire can be awesome. For kids, the urge is even worse. How does this burn? How does that burn? Teach them how to get out of the house, and try to keep matches or other fire starting devices well out of reach.