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 September, 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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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.