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story.lead_photo.caption Outlet decorations may become a dangerous fire hazard if they are too close to the outlet. Photo by Liz Morales/Democrat photo

When it comes to fire safety, some home features often go overlooked. Most items a household uses on a daily basis potentially can cause a fire in one way or another.

A more obvious home feature that attributed to two percent of home fires from 2011-15 is the candle.


The National Fire Protection Association states that each year, 25 home fires are caused by a candle. In order to keep this number down, the association provides a few helpful tips to candle burning for residents.

  • Keep candles in sturdy holders and make sure those holders are placed on a level surface.
  • Do not burn a candle all the way down. Put it out before the wax gets too close to the holder or container.
  • Never use a candle, if oxygen is used in the home.
  • Never use candles for light during power outages. Have flashlights and other battery-powered lighting handy.
  • Nearly one-third of home candle fires start in the bedroom. A great majority of all candle fires are sparked from flammable objects that are too close to the lit candle.


Laundry is a normal part of keeping a household. However, they can easily start a home fire, according to the association, which lists several important maintenance facts to prevent such an event:

  • Make sure the dryer is installed and serviced by a professional.
  • Do not use a dryer without a lint filer.
  • Ensure the lint filter is clean before and after each load of laundry. Also, remove lint that has gathered around the drum.
  • Rigid or flexible metal venting materials need to be used to prolong proper air flow and drying time.
  • Gas dryers should be inspected by a qualified professional to make sure the gas line and connection are always intact and free of leaks.
  • Keep the surrounding area of your dryer clear of any flammable or otherwise hazardous materials such as boxes, cleaning supplies and clothing.
  • Clothes that have made contact with flammable substances before washing such as gasoline, paint thinner or similar chemicals must be laid outside to dry before they are washed and dried.
  • Make sure to always turn your dryer off, if you need to leave home or before you go to bed.


California Fire Department Fire Chief Allen Smith has seen a lot of changes in how residents heat their homes in the past 35 years he has spent with the department. One heating mechanism that has become more popular during the past few years is the emergence of portable ethanol burning fireplaces.

In order to keep the public safe, the National Fire Protection Association lists key points in keeping these new types of fireplaces from causing home fires:

  • Clean up any fuel spillage and make sure all liquid has evaporated before lighting the fireplace.
  • An adult always should be present when a portable fireplace is burning. An adult should also be the only home resident that uses such a heating device.
  • Make sure the portable fireplace is burning on a sturdy surface.
  • Never move a lit fireplace or one that is still hot.
  • Allow at least 15 minutes for the portable fireplace to cool down before refueling.
  • Never pour ethanol fuel in a device that is lit or not completely cool. This may result in a fire or injury.

The main theme for fire safety is simple. Keep all devices properly maintained and always stay alert when home for any signs of a potential fire.

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