Avoid Appliance Fires with This Advice

"Did I leave the oven on?" It's a thought that everyone has had at one point or another, and for good reason! After all, there is perhaps no other home disaster with the same combination of frightening consequences and ease of occurrence as a house fire. Our many appliances make our lives much easier, but they are also a common source of fires in our home. Keep reading for advice about how you can identify potential fire hazards and prevent them from going up in flames.

If there is one time when you should be most concerned with starting a house fire, it is when you are cooking. Cooking fires accounted for 48% of all house fires between 2012-2016 and 21% of home fire deaths. The majority of these fires, 63%, were caused by a range/cooktop, but any kitchen appliance with a heating element, including ovens, hotplates, toasters, etc., has the potential to start a serious blaze if left unattended. For this reason, the single best thing you can do to prevent a house fire is to stay in the kitchen while cooking. If you do have to leave the room, such as during a long bake, make sure that you set a timer on your phone to remind yourself to check the appliance regularly. 

Of course, kitchen appliances aren't the only ones that can start a house fire. Other common fire-starters include dryers, space heaters, and anything with a frayed or broken power cord. In general, older and cheaper appliances are more likely to start a fire, as they are more likely to lack safety features and have some kind of damage or defect. Here are some tips for minimizing the risk of an appliance starting a fire:

  • Never use something with a damaged power cord, especially if the wiring has become exposed.
  • Always keep appliances clean and free of debris. Keep your dryer's lint trap clear and check the exhaust duct for lint build-up on a regular basis.
  • Always keep flammable objects, such as cloth, paper, or chemicals, away from any appliance with a heating element.
  • Never leave an appliance with a heating element turned on and unattended, especially a space heater or range.
  • Regularly check the batteries in your smoke alarms.

By following this advice, you can help contribute to the trend of reducing house fires in the United States. In fact, while the number of residential fires was over 1.3 million in 2017, that number was 6.2% lower than in 2008! Stay safe!