Dry Iowa Weather May Increase the Chance of House Fires

In light of the recent fire at the landmark Younkers department store building in Des Moines, ServiceMaster by Rice is providing some simple tips to help avoid home fires and the damage they cause. Although house fires can be caused by many different sources: candles, cooking and home appliances, electrical and wiring mishaps, chemicals and gases, heating equipment, etc. they are generally easy to prevent as long as you take certain steps to help avoid them.

ServiceMaster by Rice is here to provide water restoration, fire damage services and advice for cities all around Iowa including Storm Lake, Ankeny, Okoboji, Cedar Rapids, Fairmont, Milford and the surrounding areas.

Kitchen and BBQ Fires

Easy to use and just as easy to forget; kitchen stoves are one of the most common sources of house fires. The kitchen stove should always be monitored when in use, especially in the case of gas stoves. Stay in the kitchen while you are cooking food on the stove, and be sure to remember to turn it off when you are done with it.

Barbecues are often considered to be the quintessential summer must-have. They certainly can be, but they also require regular maintenance and cleaning to keep them from building up grease and other flammables. It’s also important to use your barbecue where it’s supposed to be used – outside. They should be used away from the exterior walls of your home, as well as away from deck rails and decorative shrubbery.

Fires Caused by Washing Machines and Clothes Dryers

According to the National Fire Protection Association, dryers and washing machines were involved in one out of every 22 home structure fires reported to United States fire departments from 2006-2010. Clothes dryers alone accounted for 92 percent of the reported fires, washing machines by themselves were the cause of 4 percent, and washing machine/dryer combinations lead to another 4 percent of reported house fires. For the washing machine fires, the leading cause attributed to fire ignition was some type of electrical failure or malfunction, while the main cause for dryer fires has been linked to the simple fact that the lint trap or chute had not been cleaned properly or thoroughly.

Fires Started by Candles

The top three days for home candle fires are generally Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and New Year’s Day. These particular fires are usually caused because of seasonal decorations placed too closely to the open flame of holiday candles. The simple remedy would be to keep combustible materials away from open flame.

Candles can cause fires regardless of whether or not it is the holiday season. They are usually caused when some form of flammable material is too close to the flame, although there are cases where candle fires started because they were knocked over onto something or because a person or people were playing with one. The National Fire Protection Association has easy suggestions for avoiding fires started by candles: never leave a burning candle unattended and blow out candles when you leave a room. Also important is to keep candles securely placed in a holder away from children and pets and away from flammable materials.

Electrical Fires and Fires Caused by Inadequate Wiring

According to the National Fire Protection Association, the most inclusive and direct interpretation of an electrical fire is a fire involving some type of electrical failure or malfunction. Any equipment powered by electricity can have such a failure.

You can help prevent fires caused by electrical equipment by checking to make sure your electrical appliances don’t have loose or frayed cords or plugs, your outlets are not overloaded with plugs, you aren’t running wires under furniture or rugs, and you aren’t over-using extension cords.

Regarding poor or inadequate wiring, there are warning signs to watch out for that include the need to disconnect one appliance to plug in another to avoid tripping the circuit breakers, the necessity of using many extension cords, fuses blowing or circuit breakers tripping frequently, or lights dimming when using more than one appliance. These are all signs that your wiring may need updating.

Chemical and Gas Fires

There are many flammable liquids that may ignite simply because they are not being stored properly and the escaping vapors experience high temperatures or a spark of static electricity. Store your flammable liquids (paint thinners, cleaning supplies, fuels, etc.) according to the directions on their containers; ideally you would store them in a ventilated, cool area outside the home.

Fires Started by Heating Equipment

Especially for those cold Iowa winters, our furnaces and/or fire places see a lot of use. It’s very important to annually have your furnace inspected by a properly certified technician, as well as to have your chimney cleaned and inspected. Keep space heaters and other portable heaters away from draperies, furniture, blankets, etc. to avoid fires caused by the over-heating and ignition of these materials.

Central Iowa Fire Repair Experts

While some fires just seem to come out of nowhere and are almost completely unavoidable, there are occasions when the warning signs are clear. ServiceMaster by Rice believes that taking these simple steps now may save you and your family from a lengthy and difficult experience with a home fire later. Contact the experienced and professional staff at ServiceMaster by Rice with any questions about our fire restoration services, help with water damage, or other disaster restoration services you may need.


Used for reference: https://www.nfpa.org/research/reports-and-statistics/fire-causes