The Heat Is On!
We’re coming up on the final month of summer, but the heat isn’t letting up just yet. Many people think that summer is the worst season for fire danger, but according to the NFIRS, summer is actually when the lowest dangers exist. I know it’s hard to believe that when we keep reading about the huge wildfires in California, but only about 8% of all house fires that happen occur in the summer. Most house fires happen in December and January – often due to faulty space heaters and wood burning stoves/fire pits. But don’t let that make you think that summer is a time you can overlook fire safety. Here are a few things you should consider to make sure your house doesn’t go up in smoke.
By far, the most common cause of house fires is cooking and that doesn’t stop during the summer. Nearly 32% of all house fires are caused by cooking accidents. Never leave stoves and ovens on, even briefly, when you can’t be there to attend them. It only takes a second for them to overheat and start a fire and if you aren’t close enough to stop it, it’ll quickly spread. Grease and oil are particularly bad offenders on that front. Dishrags left too near the heat are also a danger. To reduce the risk of danger, make sure you clean the cooking surfaces regularly to prevent grease from building up on them.
While faulty heating systems cause many fires, air conditioning units cause their fair share as well. Portable and fixed AC units will sometimes have inadequate wiring for their heavy power loads, which causes short circuits. The peak time for AC fires is between 2 and 8 PM, when they see peak usage. Be sure to have an electrician check your AC unit to make sure the wiring is properly installed and can handle the load.
Look for ways to avoid needing to use the air conditioner all day so it won’t overheat. Consider turning on a small fan in the room you’re using rather than running the AC all through the house if you can. Check the AC’s filter regularly to make sure it doesn’t build up dust or debris. And never, ever run a cord powering an AC unit under a rug or through a door. This increases the chances of the cord being damaged, which is guaranteed to start a fire sooner or later.
Yard and Vehicle Maintenance
You’d be surprised how much this goes overlooked. During the summer, a poorly kept yard is a prime target for fires. Loose brush and debris are highly combustible. Be sure to clear them from your yard. While you’re at it, trim the bushes and trees, as poorly kept branches and brambles are also prone to catching fire. Check up on your vehicles to make sure that no hot metal parts dangle from under it. Mufflers and exhaust pipes are chief offenders here. Keep them raised away from the ground as much as possible and avoid parking your cars near dry brush or grass. Be sure to avoid dragging chains, or other metal objects that could create sparks. Keep a shovel somewhere in the yard that you can access quickly to bury a fire if you catch one starting early.
Attic fires peak in both summer and winter. While in the winter, the cause is often faulty wiring; during the summer the cause can be just the heat itself. Attics are often closed-off spaces with poor ventilation. Combined with the insulation surrounding them, they are prone to getting very, very hot. Do not overstuff your attic with items, especially not combustible ones like paper. Not only does this increase the number of things that can catch fire if it gets to hot, it provides more fuel for the fire if it does start.
It can also make it impossible for you to get at the fire with an extinguisher if you catch it early enough to stop it. The summer months are also prone to lightning storms. While there’s not much you can do to stop lightning from striking, you can mitigate the damage. Unplug appliances during thunderstorms to prevent short circuits and consider installing a lightning protection system if you live in an area where lightning storms are particularly common.
The general fire safety rules are as good in summer as any other time. Don’t overload power sockets. Install smoke alarms and check up on their batteries regularly to make sure they work. Keep fire extinguishers in accessible places near known fire risk areas. And in case the worst happens, always have a fire safety plan. Make sure your children know it and practice following through on it. The more you practice, the less likely you are to panic if a fire actually breaks out.
We’re Here To Help
We at Alpine Cleaning and Restoration are on call 24/7, ready to respond at a moment’s notice. If something should go wrong and a fire starts, get in touch. Fire prevention starts with you, but fire cleanup starts with us. If your home is damaged by fire, we can not only clean it up, but also restore to just as good a condition as it was before the fire. There won’t even be the scent of smoke to remind you that a fire ever happened.
That’s a promise.