Every year, approximately one in every 320 households has a reported home fire resulting in an estimated average of 2,570 deaths, 13,210 injuries and $7.2 billion in direct property damage.
Home fires are one of those incidents we never assume will happen to us yet they are extremely frequent, especially in the months of December and January when most fires occur due to holiday decorations and Christmas trees.
Along with Christmas trees there are several overlooked fire hazards that everyone should be aware of:
Faulty wiring behind the walls
Remarkably, over 80% of residential electrical fires occur because of wiring that’s behind your walls. December and January are the most dangerous months for electrical fires due to using more lighting, heating and appliances. If a light switch is hot to the touch or flickers immediately have it checked by an electrician. Also, replace any wires that might be frayed or damaged. Finally, if your lights short circuit frequently, that could signal a problem.
Using blankets properly greatly reduces the risk of fires. Most electric blanket fires are related to bad cords or overheating and igniting materials nearby. Avoid using any electric blanket which has a broken or exposed cord. Don’t put another blanket on top of an electric blanket or allow your cat or dog to sleep on top of it when it’s on as this could also present a fire hazard. If you’re electric blanket is older than 10 years it’s time to replace it. According to the NY City Fire Department, blankets over 10 years old cause 99% of the electric blanket fires.
Overloaded extension cords
The CPSC estimates that extension cords cause about 3,300 residential fires each year. The greatest danger is overloading extension cords which can cause overheating. Check extension cords regularly to be sure there not damaged or broken in any way and, if it feels hot to the touch, stop using it immediately.
There are over 10,000 dryer fires every year. While I knew to clean out my lint trap I didn’t realize the danger of the dryer hose attached in the back. This can clog up with lint and moisture and, as the hot air is coming out of the dryer, cause a fire. If you notice that your clothes are suddenly taking longer than normal to dry, clean out your vent pipe or hire a service to do it. Also, be sure that outdoor vent flap is not blocked in any way.