5 Common Causes of Fires (and How to Prevent Them)
Hundreds of thousands of fires each year destroy homes, cause harm and disrupt people's lives. Most of them are preventable.
Cooking is the number one cause of preventable home fires! You should not cook when you're tired, if it's the middle of the night, or if you just got home from a late night. If you do cook under any of these circumstances, you need to be extra careful.
You also should not cook while you're drinking, especially if you've been drinking more than one or two glasses of wine, because your full attention won’t be where it needs to be and can lead to something dangerous.
Oftentimes in the event of a grease fire, the first instinct is going to be to get some water to put the fire out. Do not do this - this may cause the grease to splatter and can cause the fire to spread. Instead of that, cover the fire with a pan. Starved of oxygen, it will go out on its own. You can also use baking soda on some occasions.
However, if the fire becomes too much to handle or out of control and you start to get worried for your own safety, get out as quick as possible and call 9-1-1!
Of course, in the winter, you need to keep your home warm, especially in Albany. But heating elements like fireplaces or space heaters can be major causes of residential and commercial fires.
You should keep anything that can burn at least three feet away from that heating source. You should also turn the heater off when you're leaving the room or if you're going to sleep. While it’s always nice to go to bed toasty, it's not safe to do so!
Electrical fires are also all too common, but they can be avoided with a bit of common sense.
You should only plug in one heat-producing appliance at a time. For major appliances like refrigerators, plug those directly into outlets - don't use extension cords or power strips. Finally, use light bulbs with the right number of watts. Those watts are listed on the sticker on the side in most cases
Smoking is less common than it used to be, but it's still a major cause of preventable fires. In fact, according to the National Fire Protection Association, over 17,000 home fires per year were caused by smoking.
Store cigarettes and lighters high up or in locked cabinets so children cannot access them.
Put out your cigarette in a deep sturdy ash tray when you're done. Make sure it's away from anything that could burn.
Candles can be a major cause of home fires, causing over 7,000 fires per year, especially over the holidays. You should ensure that candles are at least one foot away from anything that could possibly burn. Finally, blow your candles out before you leave the room or go to bed. Everybody likes a bit of ambiance, but it's not safe.
It's important to remember that fires are preventable so long as you know the risks. Still, it's important to be prepared for the worst case scenario, so take a look at developing an emergency response plan. And remember if you do have a fire, call SERVPRO of South Albany County at 518-456-1111.