Fire Safety for the Home – Part IV
Continued from last week…
- Consider getting rid of your electric blanket. The fire hazards associated with them make the prospect of trading them in for a thick comforter or multiple blankets much less worrisome. When their embedded cords become bent, the internal wiring can break, causing them to short out and start an electrical fire.
- Be extra-vigilant when using hot pads, hot plates, Bunsen burners and portable cooktops. They can overheat and burn the surface they’re sitting on, or burn through a cup or pot sitting on top, which can lead to smoke and fire. Never leave these unattended, and always unplug (or extinguish) them when not in use.
- Unplug portable electronic devices and other small appliances when not in use. Coffeemakers, blow dryers and other devices we use daily still draw current when they’re plugged in, even if they’re turned off. A faulty device can cause an electrical fire that can be devastating. One family in Boulder, Colo., returned home one day to discover their house burned to the ground; the fire marshal discovered that the cause was a switched-off curling iron that was left plugged into the wall’s receptacle Get into the habit of unplugging, just to be safe.
- Use extension cords sparingly, and always unplug them when not in use. Some electrical devices work best when plugged directly into the wall’s receptacle or outlet, especially if they have a ground wire (which you should never cut off). Devices plugged into extension cords can easily overheat (themselves or the extension cords), damaging wires within walls and weakening your electrical system, potentially causing an electrical fire. Always check for the UL-listed label on extension cords. Remember that they also pose a tripping hazard, which is another reason to minimize their use.
- Clean your clothes dryer’s lint trap after each use. Your dryer should vent directly to the outdoors. Check to make sure that there are no obstructions in the vent hose, such as birds’ nests, foliage or other debris. The vent should have a damper to keep wildlife and debris out, but it should not have a screen, which can trap combustibles, allowing them to accumulate, heat up, and possibly catch fire.
- If you have a fireplace, remember to have it professionally inspected and cleaned periodically by a chimney sweep. Creosote buildup can cause a fire that may unexpectedly back into the living space. Make sure your damper is working properly, and that the chimney lining is in good condition. The next time your InterNACHI inspector inspects your roof, s/he can check for adequate flashing around the chimney, as well as its structural integrity. Make sure the fire is completely out before you leave the home. Keep all kindling and combustibles a safe distance away from the mouth of the fireplace. Make use of a screen at the hearth to prevent embers from escaping. And avoid burning green wood, which doesn’t burn as evenly or safely as dry wood.
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Posted on October 9, 2012, in Inspections and tagged Blow Dryer, Coffeemaker, Comprehensive Building Consultants, Cooktop, Dryer Lint Trap, Electrical Fires, Extension Cords, Fire Hazard, Fire Safety, Fort Myers, Inspections, Inspector Gadget, InterNACHI, Property Guiding, Russ Hensel. Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.