6 lesser known fire hazards in the home

Lesser known fire hazards

From dust, glass, paper stacks and more

Most of us recognize the dangers of leaving cookware unattended on the gas or electric stove. You may even how many electronic devices you put into a socket. While you may be privy to the perils of neglected candles, or scrupulous about smoke alarm maintenance, it’s also critical for homeowners to be aware of the furtive hazards hiding around the house. Here are some risks you may not be aware of (and how you can avoid them).

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Personal Safety

Fire damage can cause structural damage so the less people in the property, the better. Be aware of obstacles and sharp objects within the property and wear personal protective clothing. We highly recommend that you DO NOT enter the property unless instructed it is safe to do so by supporting authorities. Soot and smoke are hazardous to health. If you do enter the building you need to take precautions. Do not eat or drink anything that has been in contact with the flames, soot or smoke as certain contamination will have occurred.

Environmental Safety

Ensure gas, water and electricity supplies are switched off at the mains, do not touch any electrical sources whilst in contact with water. Remember that the fire services may use large quantities of water to extinguish the fire. Contact utilities suppliers and glaziers if necessary. Secure the property if possible. Although fire damage can be devastating you need to be aware that you are still responsible for the security of the property and you should act to keep your property safe and not compromise the safety of it.

3. Limit Secondary Damage

If it is safe and easy to do so you should try and remove valuable items to protect them from secondary damage caused by soot and smoke. It is also a good idea to make a quick list of items that have been damaged. Contact your insurance company and inform them of the situation. Be clear and concise with them. Offer them a list of items that have sustained damage and salvage what you can. Once you have contacted your insurance company, call Tempest Restoration on 0845 052 4522 and arrange for us to visit the property to provide expert advice and service to return your home to its pre-incident state as quickly and as efficiently as possible.

Please note that Tempest Restorations services are not a replacement for the Emergency Services and should only be contacted after them and your insurance company.

Dust Buildup

Dastardly dust bunnies aren’t only a surface nuisance or a breach to your sinuses. The dust that gathers near sockets, floor heaters and electronics could also pose a fire hazard. All it takes is a single spark to ignite a clump of dust, at which point a fire could potentially spread to nearby furniture. So as you conduct your regular sweeping and vacuuming rounds, be sure to check those hard-to-reach places, including behind bookshelves, desks and dressers, and around electronics, underneath beds and any nooks where dust is likely to gather.

Electrical Wiring

Electrical wiring is an obvious fire hazard, but one most people don’t even think about, since it hides behind the walls unseen. But although out of sight, wiring shouldn’t be kept out of mind—the NFPA reports that electrical fires cause over $1 billion of property damage every year.

Electrical fires often stem from old or faulty wiring, so if your home has seen over a century of events, a professional inspection of your system might be in order. Also, make sure your abode is outfitted with 12 American Wire Gauge (AWG) solid wiring to accommodate the demand of modern appliances.

If you do live in an older home, switching out an outlet or switch could create an added burden on an already taxed system. Please consult a professional before starting any electrical project.

Additionally, there are tasks that can accidentally puncture wire, like driving nails through the wall. So consider upgrading your circuit breaker to an arc fault circuit interrupter—a device that disrupts the circuit when it detects loose connections or abnormal sparks, thereby preventing a fire.

Glassware

It may sound like urban lore, but glassware can (and does) cause fires. In the same way a magnifying glass can focus the sun’s rays to the point of smoldering, normal glass fixtures can also ignite under the right conditions, and abundant sunlight isn’t necessarily required.

Across the pond, the London Fire Brigade reported 125 fires caused by glassware between 2010 and 2015. Not really known for prolific sunshine to begin with, London saw seven of those fires during the winter. So, to be extra cautious, keep mirrors, crystals, fishbowls and other glass ornaments away from sunny (and even not-so-sunny) window sills.

Loose Electrical Outlets

Loose-fitting plugs are more than just a slight annoyance. Over time, the blades inside your wall outlets can become loose and generate a significant amount of heat, increasing the risk of a fire igniting behind the wall. If you notice any loose electrical outlets in your home, make sure they’re replaced immediately.

Laptops

If you own a laptop, you probably know that it can heat up quite a bit over time. A hot laptop that’s left on a couch, bed, blanket or any kind of soft surface runs the slight risk of igniting a fire, as surfaces like these could hamper sufficient airflow in and out of its cooling vents. To prevent overheating, only leave your laptop on non-flammable surfaces, such as a laptop stand, countertop or desk.

Stacks of Paper

Whether you’ve purposefully amassed that stack of newspapers, or it’s just neglected clutter, paper that’s too close to electrical sockets or a heating source, like a vent or portable heater, could easily serve as kindling for a blaze. You’d be surprised by how many fire claims are the result of old newspapers being kept in the garage alongside propane tanks or the lawn mower’s gasoline container—creating the perfect conditions for combustion.

So, if you have a cache of news items that you absolutely have to save for future historical insight, it would behoove you to digitize, digitize, digitise.

It’s important to note, too, that even your most prudent efforts aren’t completely immune to the unpredictability of fire hazards—after all, things can and do happen. But you might be happy to know that most renters and homeowners insurance policies offer financial protection against fires and a multitude of other perils.

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FAQs

A. We aim to be on the scene as soon as we can. With technicians located acrosss the UK, you are never too far away from the expert help of Tempest Restoration. The longer you delay after your property has been affected by fire, the worse the damage will be. From the moment of arrival on site, we will begin the decontamination process. We work around the clock to ensure that fire damage and your losses are kept to a minimum. We aim to safely return your business to normal, as quickly as possible.

A. Damage caused by fire may look superficial but its the effects on materials that are not visible that can have lasting consequences to health and to the structure of a building. Potential hazards include asbestos and lead among others. Your home is full of porous materials and smoke can penetrate these materials beyond what is viewable by the naked eye. Our bespoke equipment and understanding of the uniqueness of each fire gives us the ability to detect fire damage and deal with it safely and effectively. Hired machines in the hands of inexperienced operators will cost unnecessary time and money in the long term. We understand the urgency of returning your home to its pre incident state and we operate quickly and efficiently to do so for you.

A. From your point of view, the quicker the process starts, the quicker you can be back in your home. Restoration work following a fire can be lengthy, it would be wrong to assume its a quick fix. Secondary damage caused by fire begins within minutes but can be minimised if dealt with promptly by a professional. During a fire, chemical reactions produce chemicals that are toxic and potentially fatal. During the time that the fire services are extinguishing the flames, the use of water (although required for putting out the fire) can unfortunately cause further structural damage and additional hazards. The contaminated area needs to be neutralised and rendered safe to prevent further damage and degradation. Potentially, every minute is costing you money.

A. During the combustion of a fire, chemical changes occur and environmental pollutants are created, many of which are harmful to human health. This seems fairly straight forward but natural and synthetic materials in your home produce a vast array of chemicals, depending on their makeup. Here at Tempest, we thoroughly assess the entire area using state-of-the-art testing equipment to detect any traces of hazardous substances.

A. Of paramount importance and priority is safety. Fire can, however big or small, cause structural damage to your home. Even past the point of the emergency services approving the site safe for entry, you should still proceed with caution. Every fire is different and unique. The location of a fire in your home can cause a chain reaction to other rooms, and sometimes it can be contained, either way the process of restoration is variable depending on many different factors. We assess each site to ascertain the extent of the damage and the precise actions required. We undertake a comprehensive risk assessment and survey of the property along with safety checks of power supplies to isolate any further damage. Ventilation of the home then removes trace of odour. Contents are assessed for renovation/removal and damaged surfaces are decontaminated and cleaned, neutralising odours.

A. During a fire the heat produced can reach thousands of degrees. The corrosive smoke produced is forced into every space and becomes trapped in porous materials, most surfaces will almost certainly suffer corrosion. Combustion will create chemical products that will be toxic long after fire is extinguished. During the fire, fumes and chemicals produced such as carbon monoxide are potentially fatal. It is essential that your home is decontaminated by a professional following a fire, you could be ricking your health if you don't.

A. Yes. A fire produces chemical residues during combustion. The combustion process releases harmful chemicals into the environment. In older buildings materials such as asbestos and mercury have fatal side effects when subjected to fire. These chemicals penetrate porous materials and surfaces within the building itself. Smoke particles can penetrate some places you probably didn't think of, such as your heating system. If left, they can remain for months in the atmosphere which can result in lung irritation and respiratory problems, a major reason for having a professional undertake the restoration work.

A. Given that each fire is individual and unique based on many different factors including location, time and combustibles, the damage caused and cost to restore is also variable. In order to limit these costs, it is essential that fire damage remediation commences as quickly as possible. The secondary damage caused to properties begins following the fire being extinguished and will cause costs to escalate if not stopped. Our swift response teams located across the UK can be on site speedily and act quickly and efficiently to ensure your losses are kept to a minimum and your home can be back to normal in a short space of time.

A. Our technicians are trained to the highest standards and are equipped to decontaminate fire and soot-damaged properties. We have been restoring, renovating and repairing domestic and commercial premises for over many years and have served hundreds of customers in across the UK, helping them get back to normal. We are trusted providers to many insurance companies who come highly recommend.

A. We operate across the UK with technicians available in major towns and cities. Our head office is based in Swaffham, Norfolk where we undertake all our training.

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