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14 Tips for Preventing Household Appliance Fires

Blog / February 4, 2015

Most of us use many different household appliances every day without ever thinking twice about it.  The majority of the time, these appliances work properly and safely without ever causing a problem.  However, appliances can sometimes pose a risk for fire.  There are two keys to preventing appliance-related fires:  use the appliance as it is intended, and keep it well-maintained.  Read on to learn more about how you can prevent household appliance fires.

General Appliance Safety Tips

  1. Be careful with spark. If an appliance sparks or shocks you when you use it or unplug it, have it repaired or replaced immediately.  These sparks and shocks are a clear sign of a dangerous electrical problem.
  2. Do not use or store appliances in areas that tend to be wet.  In particular, avoid using appliances near sinks or in basements or garages where water may collect.
  3. Never try to force an electrical cord into an outlet where it doesn’t fit.  Three-pronged cords should never be pushed into two-prong outlets.
  4. Use caution with extension cords.  If the cord is torn or damaged or wiring is exposed, do not use it.  An extension cord should never feel hot to the touch.  Large appliances should only be used with heavy-duty extension cords intended for higher amperage.
  5. Be aware of issues with your electrical wiring.  If you notice that your lights flicker, an outlet doesn’t work, or a switch feels hot when you touch it, you should contact an electrician right away.
  6. Be very cautious with space heaters.  Don’t place space heaters near other items that could potentially catch fire.  Store all flammable items, such as clothing or curtains, at least three feet away from space heaters.
  7. Keep stovetops clean and free of grease or cooking oil, which are flammable.  Do not store towels, oven mitts, or other flammable items near the stove.
  8. Always monitor the stove when it is in use.  Make sure that the handles of pots and pans are turned inward so that they don’t get bumped.
  9. When cooking, be mindful of your clothing.  Push up long sleeves and tuck in loose shirts so that they don’t catch a flame.

Clothes Dryer Safety Tips

  1. Don’t do it by yourself. All clothes dryers should be installed by a professional technician. All repairs and maintenance to your clothes dryer should be performed by a professional technician.
  2. Always use the lint trap supplied with your clothes dryer.  Empty the trap of lint between every load of laundry so that flammable lint does not collect in the dryer.
  3. Regularly check the exhaust vent pipe. Check exhaust vent pipe that leads from your clothes dryer to the exterior of the house.  The outdoor vent flap should not be blocked by anything and should be able to open fully when the dryer is running. In additional to regularly emptying the lint trap, the vent pipe itself should be cleaned to remove lint yearly.  If you notice that your laundry is taking longer than usual to dry, it is probably time to clean the lint out of the vent pipe.
  4. Unplug your clothes dryer. Do not leave the clothes dryer running when you go to bed at night or while you are not at home.  A fire could occur without your knowledge and quickly spread to other areas of the home.
  5. Do not put laundry items that have been soiled with a flammable material into the clothes dryer.  This includes gas, paint thinner, alcohol, and cooking oil.

So, in what other ways can you prevent your household appliances from fire?