Fall begins this week, and as pumpkin spice lattes and warm colors emerge everywhere, it is important to consider the fire hazards that also emerge with the change of seasons. Here are five fall fire hazards, and how to prevent them, so you can enjoy the coziness of the season without any emergencies.
1) Space Heaters
Like the dryer vents we mentioned in our house safety post, space heaters are their own fire starters. Everything from dust, lint, and pet hair builds up as the air is filtered through, which means the smallest spark or fume is enough to light a steady fire immediately. They are often turned on and left unsupervised, as people come and go or even fall asleep in the now warm room. If you are going to run a space heater, clean it regularly and turn it off once the chill is gone.
Making smores near a cozy, outdoor fire is a popular fall activity, but can become dangerous quickly. Stirring the fire can cause sparks to fly and catch on surrounding dry leaves or grass. A bonfire lit in an unprepared space can also spread or grow rapidly. If you plan on having bonfires throughout the season, research the proper way to build a fire pit and make that your weekend project. This way a safe, protected area will be ready every time you’re ready to break out the chocolate and marshmallows.
We like to warm our houses with blankets and candles, but put one near the other, and a fire will follow. According to the NFPA, nearly three out of five fires started by candles occurred because they were lit too close to flammable materials, such as curtains or furniture. Most home fires started by candles were in the bedroom, where the candles are easily forgotten. Candles enclosed in glass are much safer than free-standing pillars, and burning one on an open countertop in the kitchen is less hazardous than a bedside candle, tucked next to a tissue box or book. Continue to enjoy them, but do so intelligently.
4) Smoking Materials
Smoking materials have been and will always be a huge fire hazard. Heartbreakingly, one fourth of the victims of smoking-related fires are not the ones who were smoking. Falling asleep with a cigarette at home, or leaving a smoldering one in the pine straw outside your office, can and has burned entire buildings down in the middle of the night. Make sure each cigarette, cigar, even electronic cigarette, is properly extinguished and disposed of, as is fitting. Never leave smoking materials close to flammables, and don’t assume that daily smokers are the only ones at risk. One celebratory cigar can start a fire.
We have warned you about the dangers of turning your back on a frying pan and grilling with too much grease, but reminders are always important. Especially at the beginning of holiday and football season, extra attentiveness to hot surfaces is important. Keep all pot and pan handles turned inward so curious children or hasty family members cannot reach or knock over stovetop cookware, and if the perfect photo opportunity of your children playing in the leaves suddenly presents itself, turn off that burner or grill before leaving it unattended to snap a picture that always takes longer than expected.
Keeping these things in mind, you will be able to enjoy the charm of the season safely! Happy Fall!
September is National Preparedness Month, and in honor of this we will be posting weekly articles about preventative measures you can take to minimize fire hazards around the house, and how to prepare a plan for your family in the event of a fire occurring. Be sure to check Facebook and Twitter, where we will be sharing the latest article every Monday.