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Hidden fire hazards in your home

February 16, 2016
There are some fire hazards in your home that may surprise you.

Even if you are responsible and safety-conscious, your home may contain a few fire hazards you are not aware of. Fire hazards lurk in unseen and unexpected places, and the first step to lowering your home's risk of fire is knowing where to look.

Fire hazards you may not see

According to Fox News Magazine, two commonly overlooked fire hazards include an excess of lint in the clothes dryer and faulty wiring. Lint does not only build up on the lint tray. It also collects in the dryer cabinet behind or under the machine. Fox recommended hiring a professional to clean out the cabinet every two years to prevent the lint from igniting.

Because wiring is generally behind walls, you may not notice if a wire has become frayed or worn. In addition, it is possible you could puncture a wire when hammering a nail into the wall. Fox News Magazine suggested installing arc-fault circuit interrupters in place of standard circuit breakers. These interrupters can sense irregularities in the electric system and will be able to stop the electricity flow to prevent fire. The U.S. Fire Administration said about half of home electrical fires are caused by lighting equipment or wiring, so it's important to make sure both are in good shape.

"Because wiring is generally behind walls, you may not notice if a wire has become frayed or worn.”

You have probably installed several smoke alarms in your home, but are they the right kind? MarketWatch explained that the most common type of smoke alarm used in homes are ionization smoke alarms, yet photoelectric smoke alarms are generally the better choice. Photoelectric smoke alarms are more expensive, but they are much quicker at detecting smoldering or slow burning fires. It could take an ionization alarm 20-50 minutes longer than a photoelectric alarm to detect a smoldering fire, and that difference could be life or death.

There is some disagreement over whether all smoke alarms in a home should be photoelectric or if ionization alarms (which are good for detecting fast flaming fires) should still be used in certain places. MarketWatch recommended using photoelectric alarms in bedrooms and hallways and keeping ionization alarms in the kitchen. Still, the publication acknowledged that in 2008 the International Association of Firefighters suggested using all photoelectric alarms.

Other surprising hazards

Fox News Magazine said sawdust burns faster than any other type of dust, and a buildup in your home could be dangerous. You should remove this hazard with a vacuum specifically meant for getting rid of combustible dust. Don't merely blow it off furniture using compressed air in a can, as its presence in the air can be hazardous as well.

According to the USFA, there are a few common household items that can create unnecessary fire hazards. Extension cords can be a problem if they run beneath carpeting or are cracked or frayed. In addition, space heaters, fireplaces, wall heaters and baseboards should be given adequate breathing room—nothing flammable should be within three feet of one. The East Side Fire Department of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, suggested arranging a home inspection specifically to search for fire hazards in your home.

Reducing your home's risk of fire could improve your home insurance premium. Most importantly, it will vastly improve the safety of you and your family.