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These 20 Hidden Things in Your Home May Be a Fire Hazard

This article comes from Family Handyman.

Keep your family and property safe by being mindful of these hidden fire dangers in your home.

1. Smoke Detector

Every year people die because their smoke detectors didn’t go off during a fire. That’s usually because the batteries were dead (or had been removed to stop false alarms) or the detector was past its useful life or was located where occupants couldn’t hear the alarm.

2. Potential Cooking Fire

A towel or curtains hanging too close to an unattended stove can ignite. The statistics: Cooking fires cause 23 percent of home fires and 9 percent of deaths. The grease in an unattended frying pan catches on fire and ignites nearby combustibles, which in turn ignite curtains, cabinets or anything else in the vicinity.

3. Potential Extension Cord Fire

Overloaded extension cords, bad connections and other careless use of electrical devices can melt wire insulation and cause a fire. The statistics: Electrical equipment causes 9 percent of home fires and 10 percent of deaths. Overloaded extension cords, hidden electrical shorts, bad connections, and oversized bulbs and fixtures can ignite nearby combustibles and burn down your house.

4. Potential Gas Water Heater Fire

Clothes piled too close to a gas water heater can ignite when the water heater comes on. The protective doors for the gas burners are missing. Appliances (clothes dryers and gas water heaters) cause 7 percent of home fires and 4 percent of deaths. After problems with stoves and heaters, the biggest culprits in appliance fires are lint in dryers and combustibles near gas water heaters.

5. Turning the Heat Too High When You Cook

Cranking up the heat too high can be lethal, even if you’re in the kitchen while you cook. Kevin Kelley, senior director of community preparedness programs for the American Red Cross, recommends paying close attention and turning off the burner if you see smoke or grease starting to boil while frying food. This is the real reason most recipes have you bake at 350 degrees.

6. Having a Dirty Stove While You Cook

If your stove is covered with grease and other flammable grime, a small kitchen fire can get out of hand quickly. Clean and clear the area around the stove before turning on the heat.

7. Fireplace Safety

Your home’s chimney should be swept at least once a year, according to the National Fire Protection Association. This fire safety measure will help remove soot and debris which could become a fire hazard. And when using the fireplace, keep any flammable materials, such as blankets, curtains and rugs away from the fireplace and never leave children unattended near a working fireplace.

8. Sawdust

Sawdust is highly combustible and shouldn’t be left around the garage or in the shop. There are a lot of components like electrical wiring, a short spark from metal objects colliding and chemicals during woodworking projects that can quickly ignite a sawdust pile.

9. Loose Outlets

The constant movement of loose electrical outlets can loosen the wires connected to the outlet and create dangerous arcing.

10. Antiques

The old wiring of antique appliances make them a safety risk because the wiring dries and becomes brittle, which could fuel a fire. For those who especially love shopping for vintage light fixtures it’s imperative to know how old the wiring is, if the wiring has been replaced and whether the wiring is European or from the U.S. Look for a UL (Underwriters Laboratories) label somewhere on the wiring for a quick reference to see if it’s safe. UL tests lighting fixtures for safety.

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