In 2013, there were a reported 369,500 home fires, resulting in more than 2,500 civilian deaths and 12,000 injuries, according to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA). Direct property damage was estimated at 6.8 billion dollars — too many deaths, and too much money.
House fires are commonly started due to electrical equipment malfunctions and poor heating behaviors. As the cold rolls on and heating equipment is used more, and more, we thought it would be best to share with you the top causes of heating and electrical fires, and how you can take the necessary precautions to avoid them.
In 2011, heating equipment was involved in an estimated 53,600 U.S. home fires, and accounted for 14 percent of all home fires, second only to cooking. These types of fires can happen due to misuse of heating equipment and a lack of proper maintenance. Two major causes of heating fires are:
Chimneys and Fireplaces
Wood-burning stoves and fireplaces pose a serious threat to your safety if not properly maintained. According to the Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA), there were an estimated 22,700 home fires caused by chimneys. fireplaces, and chimney connectors from 2010-2012. There is no excuse for these fires with proper maintenance and annual inspections. An ongoing chimney fire is generally identified by:
- Loud cracking or popping noises
- A lot of dense smoke
- An intense hot smell
If you don’t want a chimney fire, take the proper measures to avoid them by having a CSIA Certified Chimney Sweep annually. Make sure they clean and repair any damage. A certified sweeper is properly trained on all venting systems and will do the job right the first time. To find a CSIA Certified Chimney Sweep in your area, click here.
Stand Alone Heaters
Space heaters, stationary and portable accounted for 33 percent of all home heating fires based on annual averages from 2007-2011. They also accounted for 4 out of 5 heating fire deaths. The majority of space heater fires were started as a result of units being too close to flammable material, such as furniture, clothing, and bedding. Here are some tips when using space heaters to prevent fires:
- Keep it level
- Keep the heater 3 feet away from anything that can burn
- Don’t leave it running
- Make it kid-free zone
The most basic interpretation of “electrical fire” is a “fire involving some type of electrical failure or malfunction,” according to the NFPA. In 2011, there were 47,700 fires reportedly ignited by some sort of electrical failure or malfunction, resulting in 418 deaths and more than 1,500 civilian injuries. Sixty-three percent of these fires were ignited as a result of failure in wiring or related equipment. Here are some ways to best prevent home electrical fires, according to Safe Electricity:
- Check electrical outlets for loose fitting plugs which can be a shock, or fire hazard
- NEVER force plugs into outlets, and never remove a prong in order to fit a cord into a two-conductor outlet.
- Use extension cords on a temporary basis
- Check light bulb wattage and match bulbs to fixture requirements
- If an appliance repeatedly blows a fuse, repair and replace it immediately
There will, of course, be times when fires happen due to accidents or unforeseen events. Kelmann Restoration specializes in fire damage restoration and is standing by to give you an estimate and repair the damage quickly and professionally. Contact us here for assistance and to receive more information.