13 Bad Habits that Could Cause a House Fire - NYCM Insurance Blog

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Mar 8, 2019

13 Bad Habits that Could Cause a House Fire

Bad Habits—we all have them. But some are far worse than others and these 13 bad habits could cause a fire in minutes. It’s important to take note and squash these habits to prevent a fire in your home. 

1. Forgotten dryer lint
Cleaning out your lint trap before every load can be a tedious task, but lint is flammable and any excessive heat buildup could end in a disaster. Frequently cleaning out your dryer’s lint trap also increases its efficiency and life span. 

2. Putting off appliance recalls
Defective home appliances cause over 150,000 fires per year. The majority are related to washer and dryer units and kitchen appliances. When purchasing a new home appliance, be sure to register it with the manufacturer or visit www.recalls.gov  to see if any of your appliances are on the list. 

3. Overlooking your stove’s range hood
We all know the danger of ovens and stovetops, but neglect our range hoods. They too, can put your home at risk of a fire. Overtime, grease builds up on the ventilation hood and trickles down onto your stove. This poses a risk of igniting a fire. From there, it can spread throughout your kitchen and leave you with thousands of dollars’ worth of damage. Add this to your spring cleaning list to keep you, your family, and your home safe.

4. Improperly stored batteries
Most—if not all—of us have a kitchen junk drawer and it’s safe to assume we all have batteries in there. This could be a huge risk to your home. When batteries roll and interact with other metals in the drawer like paper clips and loose screws, it could generate enough heat to attract and catch nearby flammable objects. Try putting a piece of electrical tape on an end of the battery or keep the batteries in the original packaging.

5. Choosing the wrong wattage
Installing a bulb that is too high for a fixture or lamp in your home is one of the leading causes of electrical fires. Be sure to check the light fixture’s maximum wattage before heading to purchase replacement bulbs. You should never go over the wattage rating as this could be detrimental to your safety.  

6. Using too many extension cords
Extension cords should never be a permanent solution in your home. An abundance of connected cords could cause a short circuit and ignite a fire. Hiring a qualified electrician in your area to install more receptacle outlets in your home can reduce the use of extension cords.

7. Carelessly letting your laptop overheat
They all do it—but knowing what to do when your laptop overheats can reduce the risk of a fire. Leaving your laptop on a flammable surface such as your bed, rug, or couch can restrict the airflow your laptop needs to vent. This causes your laptop to overheat, smoke and ignite. Try a laptop fan or set your laptop on a desk or table to reduce the risk of overheating. 

8. Ignoring your uninvited guests
Electrical wires are the perfect “snacks” for mice and other rodents to gnaw on. These can lead to exposed wires and in turn, create short circuits. Without the protective casing, the exposed wires can generate heat and ignite. 

9. Misusing your electric blanket
We all love the coziness of heated blankets but don’t realize the potential fire hazard they pose. It’s always best to keep it at the lowest setting and always remember to turn it off in the morning or after use. 

10. Poorly arranging furniture
Chances are, you’ve never heard of Pyrolysis. This is when an object—such as a couch, or coffee table—is exposed to a heat source—like a wood stove or fire place—for a prolonged amount of time causing it to dry out and become easily flammable. Arranging your furniture a good distance away from any heat sources can prevent a fire in your home. 

11. Forgetting to clean the chimney
Creosote buildup, animal nests, dead birds, and broken mortar are a few causes of chimney fires. It’s recommended to hire a professional to do a full chimney sweep at least once a year. This will ensure safe operation of the chimney and prepare you for the cold months to come. 

12. Unqualified DIY’s
Many home owners quickly learn that many things can go wrong in a short amount of time, resulting in DIY projects to save a little money. Any job involving air conditioning, plumbing and electricity should require a qualified and experienced professional. If completed incorrectly, electrical sparks and gas leaks from improper installation can cause house fires. We all love doing things ourselves but sometimes it’s best to leave it to the professionals. 

13. Disregarding dust
Believe it or not, dust buildup can be a potential fire hazard in your home. When it begins to collect around electronics such as TV wiring, and floor heaters, it can be highly flammable from prolonged exposure to heat. Vacuuming and dusting around these trigger areas biweekly can help keep you and your family safe.

Mistakes happen, but being prepared and taking proactive steps could save your life.

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