Main causes of house fires

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Main causes of house fires
House fires are ordinarily preventable disasters. (Getty Images)

Although nearly all house fires are preventable, many causes can't be detected beforehand by the homeowner. Make sure your house has up-to-date wiring and that you have a fire safety plan. Periodic fire drills, with all members of the family meeting in one designated location, can prevent a death.

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House fires are devastating

Although nearly all house fires are preventable, many causes can't be detected beforehand by the homeowner. Make sure your house has up-to-date wiring and that you have a fire safety plan. Periodic fire drills, with all members of the family meeting in one designated location, can prevent a death.

Kitchens

The majority of home fires start in the kitchen. Never leave the stove unattended while any of the hobs are on. After you finish cooking, check once more to make sure all hobs are in the "off" position. Paper towels, hand towels, dish towels, pot holders, oven gloves and curtains should be kept far enough away from the stove so they won't catch fire.

Bad wiring

Many houses built before current fire regulations wouldn't pass inspection. Bad switches, exposed wires and overloaded outlets can cause a fire. Another dangerous situation is having carpet or furniture covering extension cords. As soon as possible, you should have a fire inspection and install safety switches that will instantly stop the flow of electricity to any point that is dangerous.

Electrical appliances

Appliances and electric blankets should be used according to the instructions from the manufacturer or they could become fire hazards. When appliances are not in use, they should be turned off at the source, and if practical to do so, unplug them. Bad plugs or frayed wires are fire hazards and should be replaced by a licensed electrician. Electric blankets should be turned off and unplugged as soon as they achieve the desired temperature. Heavy objects placed on top of an electric blanket can cause a fire. Clothes dryers can cause a fire if the lint filter isn't cleaned after each use of if isn't allowed to cool down after each cycle.

Smoking

Cigarettes, cigars and pipes pose another fire hazard. Smoking in bed is dangerous because a tiny ember in bedding is combustible. Disposing of ashes in a dustbin filled with paper products is also a fire hazard. Before tossing ashes and cigarette butts into the dustbin, leave it in a covered container until you are sure there are no live embers. Another danger of smoking is having cigarettes roll off the ashtray. The best ashtrays have the holders in the centre to contain the cigarette and prevent it from falling onto another surface.

Heaters and fireplaces

Space heaters and fireplaces are dangerous if left unattended. Space heaters need to be well-ventilated, with space between them and all carpet, draperies, walls and clothing. Before going to bed, heaters should be turned off and unplugged. Fires in fireplaces need to be attended at all times, and you should never go to bed when live embers are in the fireplace.

Candles

Anything with a flame poses a fire risk. Never leave a candle unattended while it is burning. Make sure you keep all curtains, clothing and other combustible items away from the candle.

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