Appliances may simplify our lives, but they also pose a fire and injury risk if not properly maintained. Each year, approximately 9,600 fires, 25 deaths, 525 injuries and $211 million in property loss occurs due to home structure fires involving appliances.
To keep you and your family safe, the U.S. Fire Administration suggests the following appliance fire safety tips:
· Immediately fix appliances or lamps that sputter or spark.
· Keep appliances away from wet areas, especially in the kitchen, bathroom, basement, and garage.
· Use laboratory-tested extension cords with built-in circuit breakers instead of a simple extension cord. In addition:
o Don’t overload extension cords or wall sockets.
o Check to be sure connections are secure; poor connections can cause sparks that may start a fire.
o Avoid running extension cords across doorways or under carpets.
· Regularly replace or repair loose or frayed cords.
· Check wiring for outlets that don’t work, light switches that are hot to the touch, lights that flicker. If you are experiencing these problems have it checked by an electrician.
· Keep clothes, curtains, and other potentially combustible items at least three feet from all heaters.
Washers & Dryers
In 2010, approximately 16,800 home structure fires involved washers and dryers resulting in 51 deaths, 380 injuries and $236 million dollars in property damage. The leading cause of these fires was failure to clean them (34%).
· Clean lint filter before or after each use.
o Do not operate the dryer without a lint filter.
o Remove accumulated lint around the drum.
· Make sure air exhaust vent pipe is not restricted and outdoor vent flap opens when dryer is operating.
· Annually, clean lint out of the vent pipe.
· Gas dryers should be inspected by a professional to ensure the gas line and connection are intact and free of leaks.
· Avoid overloading the machine.
· Make sure the machine is properly grounded.
· Make sure the right plug and outlet are used and the machine is connected properly.
Cooking equipment is the leading cause of home structure fires (42%) and associated injuries (38%) and the third leading cause of home fire deaths (15%).
· Keep burners, the stove top, and oven clean and free of grease and other flammable debris.
· Never leave flammable items such as hot pads or towels near burners.
· Don’t leave food cooking. If you must leave the room, turn the stove off.
o Unattended cooking is the leading cause of fires in the kitchen.
· Always turn pot handles inward.
· Never wear long, loose sleeves while cooking.
· Avoid overheating liquids that may erupt causing severe burns.
· Keep the inside of the oven, the door, and all seals clean and free of debris.
· Never use metal pans and utensils.
Should a fire occur in the home, Prince William County Department of Fire and Rescue (www.pwcgov.org/fire) urges residents to protect themselves and their loved ones by following these safety tips:
· Install working smoke alarms on every level of the home including the basement.
· Install smoke alarms outside each sleeping area.
· Test smoke alarm batteries monthly.
· Replace batteries when you change your clock (spring and fall).
Home Fire Escape Plan
Each year fires kill more Americans than all natural disasters combined. Yet, according to the National Fire Protection Association, only 23% of U.S. households have developed and practiced a home fire escape plan. NFPA strongly urges families to:
· Make a home fire escape plan.
o Have at least two escape routes from every room.
o Practice the plan on a regular basis so everyone knows what to do in case of a fire.