Measures to Prevent Home Fires - Step To Health
 

Measures to Prevent Home Fires

Preventing fires in the home is vital. It's especially important in the homes of older adults who live alone or have problems with vision, hearing or mobility.
Measures to Prevent Home Fires

Last update: 15 October, 2021

The risk of domestic accidents is probably something that’s always at the back of your mind. Bumps, falls, poisoning, electrocutions, fires… In this article, we focus on home fires and share the best tips on how to prevent them.

To prevent fires in a home with children, one of the most effective and recommended measures is to have smoke detectors. Other useful rules are to always supervise children while they use the kitchen, and having circuit breakers for electrical ground faults.

On the other hand, when it comes to older adults, domestic accidents often occur due to the natural wear and tear of the in our sight and hearing. Muscle weakness and balance problems are also a risk factor.

The most common causes of home fires

With home fires, it’s not only the fire itself that’s harmful; the smoke and toxic gases it gives off are also a hazard.

A good way to prevent fires is to know what can cause them. Among the main domestic causes are the following:

Kitchen hazards

You need to be especially careful to minimize fire risks in the kitchen. Not only are matches, lighters and stoves a danger, but also the grease accumulated in pans and pots can ignite easily.

A kitchen with a metal stove and extractor.
Kitchens have many potential fire hazards. Keeping everything tidy and free from dirt helps reduce the risk.

Fireplaces and heaters

These are very useful to combat the cold in winters, but they also represent fire risks if they aren’t managed carefully. To be sure, you should always use a spark guard in front of a fire. And with heaters, it’s important not to go near them with flammable materials like paper or cloths.

Electrical fires

On occasion, surges in the voltage of the electrical grid can cause fires in homes. As such, you should install circuit breakers as a precaution.

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Incorrectly storing flammable products

A buildup of different flammable substances, such as kerosene, ethyl alcohol, acetone, gasoline or ammonia, can unleash real fire disasters if you don’t take adequate precautions.

It’s important to realize that a spill of even a small quantity of any of these products can be enough fuel for a fire to take hold.

Candles

These useful, aesthetic, and even romantic lights can be real traps. Harmless at first sight, candles start fires if you forget to put them out and a gust of wind brings a curtain, pillows or any kind of flammable fabric or material close to them. Be very careful in order to prevent home fires caused by candles.

Home fire prevention tips

Sometimes, there are situations in life that can’t be avoided or controlled. Fortunately, many of the situations that cause fires in the home can be prevented.

Take special care when using gas

Make sure you turn off the gas after using it. In addition, all the rooms in the house that have gas heaters, ovens or stoves should have appropriate vents that lead outside.

If you smell gas in your home or suspect that there may be a leak, open all windows immediately. In such cases, you should never turn on any lights, as this may cause an explosion.

Prevent home fires: be very careful with electrical fittings

If possible, you should check the electrical fittings in your home with a licensed electrician. It’s also important not to overload sockets or use too many extension cords.

To take extreme precautions, all electrical appliances should be unplugged when not in use. And remember never to use water to try to extinguish an electrical fire.

How to prevent home fires: an extension cord with several plugs.
Extension cords with multiple plugs increase the risk of fire-related accidents in the home.

Keep emergency phone numbers at hand

The Argentine Chamber of Security recommends not only having a telephone close by, but also the relevant emergency contact numbers. These may include the fire department, the police, ambulance services, or civil defense.

The special case of electrical fires and elder care

María Fernández Vigil Iglesias, in her paper “Fire safety in homes for the elderly in Spain: characterization of the problem and proposed solutions”, presented at the University of Navarra, warns that the risk of fire is three times greater in the case of older adults. Because of this, she warns of the vital importance of taking preventive measures in this regard.

In addition, Dorindo Cardenas draws attention in his study “Modeling of sources that cause electrical fires by thermoconduction”, presented at the Technological University of Panama, to the number of fires caused by poor electrical connections. And he wonders what price citizens will have to pay for the sake of scientific advancement and technological progress.

In this regard, older adults need help and advice from their children or people close to them to check home fittings and reduce the associated risks. It’s an unhappy truth that the health problems associated with aging make accidents likelier.

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  • Universidad de Navarra. Fernández Vigil Iglesias, María. Seguridad contra incendios en viviendas de personas mayores en España: caracterización del problema y propuesta de soluciones. España 2020.
  • Universidad Tecnológica de Panamá. Cárdenas, Dorindo. Modelado de Fuentes Generadoras de Incendios Eléctricos por Termoconducción. Panamá 2011.