Appliance Fires – How Safe Is Your Home

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Provided by the Prince William Department of Fire & Rescue

Appliances simplify our lives, but they also pose a fire and injury risk if not properly maintained. Each year, according to the U.S. Fire Administration (USFA) (www.usfa.fema.gov), there are approximately 9,600 residential fires involving appliances. To keep you and your family safe, USFA suggest 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.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 (32%).

Clothes Dryer

  • 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.

  • 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.

Washer

  • Avoid overloading the machine.
  • Make sure the machine is properly grounded.

Cooking Equipment

In 2007 – 2011 fire departments responded to an average of 156,600 home structure fires that involved cooking equipment resulting in 400 deaths, 5,080 injuries and $853 million in property damage. During this period, cooking equipment was the leading cause of home structure fires and associated injuries (38%) and the third leading cause of home fire deaths (15%). The leading contributing factor in these fires and deaths was unattended cooking. (www.nfpa.org)

Oven Ranges

  • 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.

Microwave Ovens

  • 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) urge residents to protect themselves and their loved ones by following these safety tips:

Smoke Alarms

Working smoke alarms increase your chances of surviving a fire by 50% (www.pwcgov.org/smokealarms); be sure to:

  • 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 (NFPA)(www.nfpa.org), only 33% of U.S. households have developed and practiced a home fire escape plan and 75% of Americans have an escape plan but more than half never practiced it. 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.

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