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Reducing Fire Hazards

Even though stories about home fires appear regularly on TV and in the newspaper, it’s easy to think that it won’t ever happen in your organization. But the simple truth is, a fire can easily occur, regardless of your organization's age, location, or condition.

To help avoid a potentially devastating and deadly fire, it is critical to reduce and eliminate as many fire hazards as possible. While this may sound like common sense, there are certain fire hazards that many people are either not aware of or do not take seriously.

For instance, do you know where and why most home fires occur? More fires start in the kitchen than anywhere else. 

Following safe practices, such as monitoring food when it’s cooking, is essential. Just as important, it’s also wise to thoroughly inspect your property, appliances, and equipment on a regular basis to identify fire risks and correct them.

The following checklist provides tips on how to reduce fire hazards.

  • Kitchen – When cooking, watch food carefully, prevent oil and grease fires, and never leave food cooking unattended. Follow instructions and warnings on labels.
  • Appliances – Inspect the electrical cords and plug-ins for damage on your toaster, toaster oven, coffee maker, stereo, TV, computer, space heater, and all other appliances and electric components.
  • Furnace and Water Heater – Clean the furnace filter regularly. Keep all combustible materials away from the furnace and water heater, and have them professionally inspected and serviced annually.
  • Portable Space Heaters – Place the heater in a safe location and away from combustible materials. Do not leave the heater running unattended. Most portable space heater product guides stress that the units should not be used with an extension cord. Check the owner’s manual or contact the manufacturer to verify what is appropriate for each individual unit.
  • Gasoline Powered Equipment – Store oil and gas in Underwriter’s Laboratories (UL) approved containers that are located a safe distance away from any sources of heat or sparks, such as the gas pilot of an appliance. Check and maintain your lawnmower, snow blower, and other equipment to make sure they do not leak gas and oil.
  • Candles – In recent years, more than 15,000 home fires were caused by candles. To prevent this, use dripless candles, never leave candles unattended, and do not set them near any combustible materials.
  • Chimney Sweep – Have a certified chimney sweep person inspect and clean the flue and check the fireplace damper. Soot and creosote can build up inside the chimney and ignite when a fire is lit in the fireplace.
  • Extension Cords and Outlets – Use only high quality UL listed cords that are properly rated for the intended purpose. If cords show damage or wear, discard them; and do not patch with tape. Never overload electrical outlets with too many appliances. Never place an extension cord under a carpet or rug.
  • Hair Dryers, Irons, and Other Heat Generating Appliances – All appliances that generate heat should be stored carefully after they have fully cooled. Unplug them after every use.
  • Lamps and Halogen Lights – Position all lamps away from combustible items, such as curtains. Avoid placing lamps where they can be tipped over. Be especially careful with halogen bulbs, which become extremely hot. Halogen lights can ignite materials near them, so do not place them under shelving.
  • Cigarettes, Cigars, Pipes – Smoking is the leading cause of home fire deaths. If you are a smoker, never smoke in bed. Handle and dispose smoking materials carefully. Keep matches and lighters away from children.

© 2024 GuideOne Insurance. GuideOne® is the registered trademark of the GuideOne Insurance Company. All rights reserved. This material is for informational purposes only. It is not intended to give specific legal or risk management advice, nor are any suggested checklists or action plans intended to include or address all possible risk management exposures or solutions. You are encouraged to retain your own expert consultants and legal advisors in order to develop a risk management plan specific to your own activities.