Every year thousands of families around the country are affected by house fires. Not only do such events cause property destruction and loss, but lives can be lost, and health damaged forever.
As a mama, it’s important to learn everything you need to know about the causes of these fires, so you can protect your family and be prepared. Here is the lowdown on what you need to know today.
Common Causes of House Fires
One of the most common situations that leads to a house fire is when a spark is dropped and turns into a flame. Candles are one of the main culprits here. People often light them and then fall asleep or forget they’re lit, leaving them burning with no one to monitor them. This open flame can lead to disaster.
Similarly, smokers who forget to extinguish their butts, or who light cigarettes or pipes and then get drowsy and drop them can cause fires. Unfortunately, too, sometimes people think they’ve done the right thing and put their cigarette out, but the butt continues to smolder and the embers set furniture, paper, curtains, or other flammable things alight.
Faulty wiring is a big issue, too. While this is most often a problem in old houses, even new homes can have a bad wire if work wasn’t done correctly during the building and installation phase. Fires start via internal wiring, directly at power points, or on the leads of appliances. Over time electrical cords become loose, or they crack and fray. They can even be chewed on by mice and other animals. When this happens, sparks may fly, reach flammable items, and start a blaze from there.
Heaters are often the source of fires, too. Wood-burning fires get out of control if not contained properly, and electric heaters that come into contact with flammable goods can cause those things to ignite. Faulty electric blankets and other heating units also often are to blame.
With children being curious and often entranced by matches and flames, another issue to be aware of is young ones setting things alight in and around the home.
How to Stay Safe
There are many things you can do to protect yourself, your loved ones, and your property. For example, never leave candles unattended (and supervise children around them), blow candles out if you’re getting drowsy, and ensure they’re sitting on an even, stable surface so they won’t fall over. You might want to consider using battery-operated candles instead of regular ones.
If you or anyone in your household smokes, be careful with lit cigarettes and pipes when tired, drowsy from medication, or if you’re drinking and not thinking clearly. Use large, deep ashtrays to keep butts contained, and check for fallen embers.
As for wiring, if you have an older home, get an electrician in ASAP to check the status of the wiring throughout your property. Have them remove and replace anything that poses a risk. Don’t try to do this work yourself, or replace any power points or do other electrical-related tasks, unless you’re trained and licensed. Check out the electrical safety tips provided by AHS.com for more details. Also, keep a close eye on the cords of appliances and stop using them immediately if they look worse for wear. In addition, don’t overuse extension cords or overload circuits.
When it comes to heating options, have your chimney/furnace serviced at least once per year by a qualified technician, and get an electrician to inspect your central or other installed heating systems for potential issues. Situate space heaters and the like well away from flammable things, too.
As for your children, teach them as early as you can about the dangers of playing with fire. Don’t leave them unattended around matches or flames of any type, and lock lighters and matches away if you think they might be tempted to play with them.
Another protective step is to install smoke alarms. Plus, if a fire does start, use a fire extinguisher to put it out where possible, but if not, get yourself and your loved ones out of the property quickly. Remember that the smoke caused by a fire can be more dangerous than the flames, as inhaling it for only three minutes can be enough to cause permanent injury or death.
It’s also important to raise an alarm ASAP. Call the fire brigade and alert neighbors. Leave your valuables behind, even though it’s tempting to grab what you can. If your clothes catch on fire, follow the “stop, drop, and roll” instructions. That is, stop what you’re doing, drop to the floor, and roll over to extinguish the fire. When you’re amidst smoke and flames, crawl along the ground to escape the thick smoke and high temperature.
House fires are scary things that none of us want to think about having to deal with. However, by learning what you need to know and following the tips above, you can reduce the risks to your family and property and stay safer as a result.