As a homeowner or business owner, have you taken the time to assess your environment and identify possible fire hazards? Recognizing fire hazards is a simple but important first step toward achieving a safe home or business. Below are five of the most common fire hazards to watch out for:
1. Electrical problems
When an electrical current is interrupted in a wire or in an appliance or tool, the resulting arc or heat can start a fire. Some electrical fires are caused by worn-out electrical equipment. An old toaster, a dilapidated motor, or just a frayed cord can create a hazard.
Some electrical fires are caused by using electrical equipment or appliances incorrectly. Careless handling of such objects can be very dangerous–make sure that everyone in your home or place of work understands how to properly handle (or avoid!) the electrical equipment around them.
Electrical fires can also happen when flammable materials are left in contact with an electrical device; when an outlet or electrical switch is installed incorrectly; or when a socket is not grounded.
Mistakes do happen, but when it comes to electrical equipment, they can be costly and dangerous. To avoid electrical fires, make sure that all electrical devices and appliances are clean and in good working condition. Take care to handle equipment properly, and when wiring is installed, be sure to test it before using it.
2. Heating appliances and equipment
Heating equipment is a leading cause of fires. Stoves, space heaters, clothes dryers, gas fireplaces, and furnaces are all examples of heating appliances that can create a fire hazard if used improperly.
Taking a few precautions can minimize the danger of fire caused by heating equipment. Keep flammable materials, children, and pets away from heating appliances. Make sure that heating systems are installed properly, by professionals, and be sure to have it inspected regularly.
3. Open flames
Workers in many fields, such as pipefitters, construction workers, iron- and steelworkers, and jewelers, use welding torches and other kinds of open flames to do their jobs. These are important tools, but they can produce powerful, high-temperature flames. If you work in a field that uses welding torches or other open-flame equipment, it is critical to ensure that workers are trained to be experts in using their tools.
At home, candles and stovetops are common causes of house fires. Never leave an open flame unattended. Keep flammable materials far away from candles. Store candles, matches, and other fire-producing materials where children cannot reach them.
Everyone knows that smoking cigarettes can have negative health effects, but it is easy to forget that it can also pose a serious fire hazard. If you smoke, avoid doing it indoors. Use an ashtray to dispose of cigarette butts and make sure they are completely stamped out before you leave the area. This is an important step, even if you are outside! Smoldering cigarette embers can easily start fires on wooden porches and decks, and in mulch or dry plant matter.
5. Storing hazardous materials
Storage units and storage areas, such as attics and basements, are often overlooked as fire hazards. Flammable materials and cluttered passageways can quickly exacerbate a fire started by a frayed electrical cord or any of the other ignition sources listed above. Be mindful about what you are storing, and be sure to keep key passageways clear and free of clutter.
Do you have questions about how you can keep your home or business as safe as possible from fire and other hazards? Contact our knowledgeable team at SIA Insurance Group in Illinois at 630-325-4000 to learn about how to get excellent insurance at the best rates.
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