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

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Jun 7, 2023

13 Bad Habits That Could Cause a House Fire

They say bad habits die hard. Unfortunately, certain bad habits can lead to dangerous situations. It’s important to be aware of what habits can lead to a house fire and work to mitigate them as much as possible. Here are 13 bad habits that, when corrected, can help you prevent a fire from starting in your home.

1. Forgetting to Clean Out 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. Ignoring or 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 that ovens and stovetops pose danger, but did you know a dirty range hood could pose a fire risk? Over time, 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 in damages. Add this to your spring cleaning list to keep you, your family, and your home safe.


4. Improperly Storing Batteries

It is not uncommon for junk drawers to contain loose batteries, however, it may surprise you to learn 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 fire to nearby flammable objects. Consider putting a piece of electrical tape on the end of the battery or keep the batteries in their original packaging.


5. Choosing the Wrong Lightbulb Wattage

Installing a bulb with wattage that is too high for a fixture or lamp 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 of the light fixture, 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 to install more receptacle outlets in your home can reduce the use of extension cords.


7. Letting your Laptop Overheat

Leaving your laptop on a flammable surface such as your bed, rug, or couch can restrict the airflow your laptop needs to vent. This can cause your laptop to overheat, smoke, and ignite. Try using a laptop fan or setting your laptop on a desk or table to reduce the risk of overheating. 


8. Ignoring Your Uninvited Guests

Electrical wires are the perfect “chew toys” for mice and other rodents to gnaw on.  This can lead to exposed wires and, in turn, can create short circuits. Without the protective casing, the exposed wires can generate heat and ignite.


9. Misusing Your Electric Blanket

While you may enjoy the coziness of heated blankets, you might not always think about the potential fire hazard they can pose. It’s always best to keep it at the lowest setting and turn it off in the morning or after use.


10. Arranging Furniture Poorly

If you’ve never heard of the term “pyrolysis,” it’s definitely something you’ll want to be aware of. Pyrolysis happens when an object—such as a couch or coffee table—is exposed to a heat source—like a wood stove or fireplace—for a prolonged period of time, causing it to dry out and become easily flammable. Arranging your furniture, a good distance away from any heat source 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. Taking on DIYs Meant for Professionals

Many homeowners quickly learn just how much can go wrong when completing DIY projects. Any job involving air conditioning, plumbing, and electricity should be left to a qualified and experienced professional. If completed incorrectly, electrical sparks and gas leaks from improper installation can cause house fires. While DIY projects can often save you some money, it’s best to leave certain projects 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 when it comes to avoiding a fire in your home could save your life. In the unfortunate event that a mistake does lead to a house fire, you’ll want to be sure your home is properly protected. For more information about a home insurance policy with NYCM Insurance, check out the link below!