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Home Improvement

7 Home Fire Hazards You Might Not Be Aware Of

You may have a couple of them lurking in your home. Here's what to check and how to prevent a potential fire.

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Photography: Pixabay (Main Photo)

March—officially Fire Prevention Month—isn’t even over, and we have already had a couple of major fires, the most recent of which was the University of the Philippines Shopping Center.

According to the Bureau of Fire Protection as reported in this article, approximately 1,217 fires have hit Metro Manila in the first quarter of 2017 alone. We try our best to keep our own homes safe from fires, but did you know a lot of harmless-looking items could be potential fire hazards? Here’s what to look out for:

Phones and laptops left charging


Faulty chargers without any quality control or safety checks (usually the budget-type chargers bought from unauthorized sellers or on the sidewalk) have a higher potential to overheat, and if placed on a flammable surface—say for example, on a bed—may cause a fire. To be safe, unplug your charger once the device is fully charged, before you go to sleep, before leaving the house, or if the charger, wire, or phone itself starts to feel unusually warm. Always buy quality chargers that match the brands of your mobile phone or laptop.

Misused extension cords and octopus connections


According to the Electrical Safety Foundation International (ESFI), about 3,300 home fires originate from extension cords each year. This usually stems from the misuse of extension cords, as these cords should only be used on a temporary basis, and not 24/7. The ESFI encourages safe practices such as inspecting extension cords for damage on a regular basis, using cords that are properly rated for specific uses (indoors or outdoors) and avoiding running extension cords inside or through walls and ceilings.

Unchecked gas hoses


A leaky gas hose, broken regulator, or unventilated gas cylinder storage are all potential fire hazards (add an unattended open-flame stove to that list, too). Check out these infographics from Petronas on gas stove safety.

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Haphazard wiring


Is your home’s electrical system a DIY job? Then for your own safety, you must have your home rewired by a qualified electrician. The same goes for old houses with electrical systems that date back to before 1960s (which may still use old-fashioned knob-and-tube wiring); have these inspected by an electrician to see if it is still safe.

Un-emptied ashtrays


Ask all the smokers in your home to clear and empty their ashtrays into a bin with non-flammable materials after smoking. Also check underneath sofas, beds, and tables for stray cigarette butts and ash.

Dried leaves


Are you fond of sweeping dried leaves, wood shavings, and twigs into a big pile in the middle of your garden? It is best to dispose of this type of debris immediately, as these are highly flammable—especially during the dry summer months.

Unattended candles


Those decorative votive or pillar candles can add a lovely glow to your home, but these are potential fire hazards when left unattended, of course. Always place them in fireproof holders and containers (glass, brass, terracotta, or stone), keep them away from children and pets, and don’t forget to put them out once you leave the room.

RL Tip: Keep a fire extinguisher ready and accessible in your kitchen, garage, and on every floor of your home. Teach every member of the household how to use it. 

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