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. It’s easy to adopt daily rituals that may not seem dangerous, but it’s important to be aware of what habits can lead to a house fire and work to mitigate them. Here are some bad habits to take note of that, when corrected, can help you prevent a fire in your home.


These 13 Bad Habits Could Cause a House Fire in Minutes:


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. 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 did you know a dirty range hood could pose a fire risk? 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 in damages. Add this to your spring cleaning list to keep you, your family, and your home safe.


4. Improperly storing 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 fire to nearby flammable objects. Try putting a piece of electrical tape on the end of the battery or keep the batteries in their original packaging.


5. Choosing the wrong 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 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.  This 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 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. 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 fireplace—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. Taking on DIYs Meant for Professionals

Many homeowners quickly learn that a number of 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 be left to 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 when it comes to avoiding a fire in your home could save your life.




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