Fires can be devastating, putting your health and property in danger simultaneously. The good news is that most fires can be prevented. Understanding the most common root causes of fires can help you reduce your risk factors, avoid dangerous situations, and ultimately minimize the threat of a fire in your home or business.
Important Fire Prevention Strategies
Before we start covering the most common sources of fires, let’s talk about fire prevention.
The best strategies for preventing and minimizing the impact of fires include:
· Avoidance. Ideally, you’ll avoid some of the most dangerous sources of fire. We all want to continue using our ovens and fireplaces, but we can avoid certain activities – like leaving candles unattended.
· Attention. It’s also important to pay attention to any sources of heat or fire in your home. Vigilant monitoring can prevent most sources of fire.
· Alerts. If a fire does break out, you need to be alerted to it. Smoke alarms and other detection systems can warn you in ample time to evacuate the premises.
· Suppression. Investing in a fire suppression system can deploy powder, foam, or other materials to snuff a fire out (or at least stop it from spreading). In a best-case scenario, it can stop a fire in its tracks. In a worst-case scenario, it will help firefighters accomplish their job easier.
· Escape. Of course, you also need to have an escape plan in place, in case you need to leave the building in a hurry.
The Most Common Causes of Fire
So what are the most common causes of fire? And how can you prevent them from causing a fire in your home or business?
· Cooking equipment and kitchens. As you might imagine, a large percentage of home fires happen due to the irresponsible use of cooking equipment in kitchens. If you leave the kitchen unattended with something in the oven or the stove left on, your food (or other items) could catch fire. If you don’t respond quickly, it could easily spread to consume the kitchen and begin spreading through the house. Always make sure to use your cooking tools responsibly – and never leave them unattended.
· Heaters and furnaces. Heaters, furnaces, and other appliances meant to heat the home (or a small area) can easily be misused. If the heater is close to a combustible material, or if it malfunctions after being left unattended, it can start a major fire.
· Smoking. Smoking cigarettes is a known health risk, but that doesn’t stop people from doing it regularly. If you fail to put a cigarette out properly, or if you drop a cigarette on the ground, it can spark a fire.
· Candles. Most of us love the appearance and scents associated with candles. When used responsibly, they’re relatively safe – but even a small mistake can lead to a raging fire. If the candle is tipped over, if the flames become too large, or if the candle is near combustible materials, a fire becomes almost inevitable.
· Electrical issues. Frayed wires, old electrical wiring practices, and faults in the electrical system of your home can all create sparks, leading to fire. Replacing old systems and avoiding the use of obviously damaged electrical equipment can prevent this.
· Flammable liquids. Certain liquids, such as gasoline, paint thinner, and other solvents, are highly flammable, and even a small spark can cause them to combust. Keep these materials stored properly, away from potential fire hazards.
· Fireplace issues. Home fireplaces can be warm, cozy, and inviting – but they can also be dangerous. If you fail to put out a fire, or if you’re not using the protective equipment correctly, a fireplace fire can quickly spiral out of control.
· Lightning. Lightning is a powerful force of nature, and a familiar one. Fortunately, lightning striking homes is relatively rare, and many homes are built with protective measures to prevent lightning-related fires. That said, lightning strikes still cause thousands of fires every year.
· Playing with fire. We were all told as children to never play with fire, but that doesn’t always stop children from doing it. In fact, more than 20,000 fires each year are started by children playing with matches, lighters, and other fire-starting materials; ultimately, these incidents result in more than 150 deaths and 1,000 injuries. It’s important to teach your kids the importance of fire safety – and supervise them closely if they’re going to use any fire-related materials in or around your home.
As you can see, some sources of fire are largely unpreventable; you can’t guarantee that lightning will never strike your home or that your electrical wiring will never malfunction. However, even a bit of prevention can rule out most of these fire hazards and keep your home or business safer. Take the threat of fire seriously and your entire building will be safer.