Across the United States, fire departments respond to a report of a house fire every 24 seconds, with over 47,000 home fires reported annually to the National Fire Protection Association. Unsupervised frying pans, faulty wiring, and unattended candles — these are all the usual suspects when it comes to house fires, but there are even more unlikely sources of a house fire that homeowners need to be wary of.
Although fires can happen at any time, and for various reasons, it pays to reduce the risk of serious blazes whenever possible. Besides being mindful of the most common causes of house fires, here’s a list of the hidden home fire hazards to also keep an eye out for.
The National Fire Protection Agency reports that between 15,000 and 18,000 fires are caused by an accumulation of lint in dirty dryer vents annually. This is due to multiple factors, including clogged dryer vents that trap heat, an excess build-up of static electricity, and overloaded dryers that are overheating. It’s important to regularly check lint filters and invest in professional dryer vent cleaning services at least once a year to prevent this from happening.
Leaves Accumulating in Gutters
If the recent wildfire outbreaks in California, Washington, and Oregon earlier this year are anything to go by, wildfires and bushfires are extremely dangerous and quite common if you live in particularly dry and arid states. While these larger forest fires are out of the regular homeowner’s control, it’s still wise to manage the risk of wildfires happening in their own backyard. This can be done by sweeping away dry branches on the lawn, trimming overgrown bushes, and making sure that leaves don’t accumulate in gutters.
Just like dryer lint, dust can be highly flammable, especially if they’re located near floor heaters, cables, and electrical sockets. It’s important to keep these areas free from dust build-up by regularly sweeping and vacuuming the floors as well as dusting or wiping down hard-to-reach areas of the home.
Scraps Of Food In The Toaster
Tiny crumbs and scraps of food that accumulate over time inside a toaster is another unlikely fire hazard that most people overlook. These negligible odds and ends of food usually collect in the bottom of the toaster and don’t cause much of a problem, except when they start to smoke. However, at some point, these can also catch fire and potentially cause the toaster to blow up and lead to a house fire. Regularly cleaning out the toaster can reduce the likelihood of this happening.
Stacks Of Paper, Magazines, And Newspapers
Papers, magazines, and newspapers that are placed near electrical sockets, kitchen appliances, dryer vents, gas tanks, and heaters can easily catch fire and lead to a serious blaze. This is because paper is highly flammable, especially if they’re old and dry, like leftover newspapers. It’s important to get rid of these as soon as they aren’t needed anymore, or store them away in tightly-sealed containers, away from common sources of heat.
Laptops are extremely convenient because of how portable they are. However, their portability is one of the reasons why they’re an unlikely source of house fires. Many people take their laptops with them to bed or on the sofa, which blocks proper airflow from the vents and causes the laptop to overheat. In some cases, this heat may be enough to start a fire. Keep laptops well-ventilated by making sure they’re elevated when placed on a hard surface and not leaving them on the bed or couch for too long.
Empty glasses that are left near sunlight can refract these rays onto highly flammable materials like paper and fabric, thus causing a fire. It’s necessary to keep things like glass jars, glass wind chimes, and glass cups stored away in the cupboard and away from sources of intense heat and sunlight.
This is by far one of the more bizarre sources of house fires. Rodents like rats and squirrels are usually the most common culprits of animal-caused fires since they’re prone to burrowing in attics and walls and chewing on electrical wires. Exposed wires are more susceptible to igniting a flame, which makes this very dangerous. A more unlikely arsonist would be a pigeon that tosses a lit cigarette into a chimney, although that has happened before.
To prevent these animal-caused fires from happening, it’s important to seal up all possible entrances for rodents and pests, leave traps near possible entryways for rodents, take out the trash often, and of course, regularly clean the chimney.
Fireproofing the home doesn’t just end with eliminating the most common triggers for house fires. These are some of the most surprising and hidden home fire hazards that diligent homeowners should also be mindful of.