Most injuries and accidents around the home are just that: accidents. Sometimes it’s inevitable that the picture frame falls off the wall and hits your head, or you slip on the wet tile in your bathroom and fall down.
Sometimes accidents just happen and they’re completely unavoidable. It’s the accidents that are avoidable that we most often regret. A common avoidable accident around the home is accidental fire.
Fires can start for a number of reasons. Some are inescapable, others can be completely avoided with a little education and steps taken in precaution.
Many house fires start from an accidental cooking error. A prime example would be leaving the stove on while cooking or boiling water. While using the stove, electric or gas, it is never a good idea to leave it unattended. It takes only a few seconds for the heat to transfer to a fuel source and for a fire to become out of control in the kitchen.
The same rules apply while using the barbecue. Both propane and charcoal barbecues give off a lot of heat from their flames, and if left unattended for a long time can spread to walls, overhanging roofs or other sources of fuel for the fire around the base of the barbecue
Proper maintenance of your cooking equipment can decrease your chances of having an unintentional fire start in your kitchen or at the barbecue.
Children have been a common source for accidental home fires, which are a leading cause of death for children. Children are curious, and the idea of something dangerous and forbidden is all the more attractive.
Take the time to talk with your children and educate them on the importance of avoiding such things as lighters and matches. Teach them that lighters and matches are tools, not toys, and much like every other tool in the house, they are for grown-ups.
Take a tour of your house and identify potential fire-starters that would be at an easy grab for a young child. Lighters and matches should be kept out of reach of any child.
You should also be mindful of candles and slow-burning incense. Although most candles are confined to glass jars or similar materials, that does not mean that the flame will always be contained to such. Keep candles away from any walls, curtains or loose paper. These are easy fuels for the fire to jump to.
Another not so commonly known fire-starter around the house is your dryer. The lint catcher in your dryer is responsible for catching the little pieces of lint floating around in your laundry. Over time the screen that acts as a “filter’ becomes full with flammable material. The heat from the circulating dryer air, or an accidental spark from an electric wire on the dryer can hit your lint screen, which can become an easy fuel source for a house fire.
Take the time to inspect your house, and identify any potential hazards that could lead to any unwanted accidents. Educate your children on the importance of fire safety and the potential damages that playing with lighters and matches can cause and use added caution in the kitchen and around the barbecue. You don’t want to have to look back and say, “I wish I would have done something different.”
If you have any questions regarding home fire safety, or if you would like some helpful tips in helping make your home fire safe please feel free to contact me at the fire house at 293-9228. Thank you.
Brian Shea is a Boulder City paramedic/firefighter.