Support Salvation Army California Wildfire Relief

Firefighter highlights bad habits that start fires

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

ST. LOUIS, MO (KTVI)- Mike Underwood, firefighter and paramedic for the Professional Firefighters of Eastern Missouri, joined us on FOX 2 News in the Morning to discuss bad habits that could start a fire. He also shared safety tips that could help along the way.

Overlooked causes of fires:

1. Dryer Lint
• Try to Clean the Dryer vent before each use.
• Not only does it make your dryer safer, it will run more efficiently. You should also clean the dryer hose one a year and check it for blockages every 6 months.

2. Letting Your Laptop Overheat
• When you leave your computer on your bed, couch, rug, or other soft, flammable surface you run the risk of restricting airflow through the cooling vents, which can cause your laptop to overheat and possibly catch fire.
• To prevent this keep it on a desk or table instead

3. Improper Use of Extension Cords
• Many people don't realize extension cords are meant to be a Temporary response to a lack of electrical outlets.
• Connecting a large number of cords for a significant amount of time can cause an overload that leads to a short circuit-which could cause a fire.
• Use a power strip or have a qualified electrician install additional outlets.

4. Storing Batteries Improperly
• This is something most people overlook
• It is very common to have a 9 volt and other batteries loose in our junk drawers at home.
• When loose batteries roll around with other metals such as screws or paper clips, the two terminals could short out and generate enough heat to ignite nearby flammables.

5. Forgetting to Have Your Chimney Swept
• Bird nests, dead animals and built up creosote are all common causes of chimney fires.
• The National Fire Protection Association recommends having your chimney swept every year.

6. Overlooking the Range Hood
•Ovens and cooktops are the most common source of kitchen fires, however, range hoods also pose a potential threat.
•Over time grease can build up on the vent hood filter.
• That grease could drip down onto the cooktop, possibly causing a fire.
• With the close proximity of cabinets to the cooktop, a small grease fire can quickly turn into a large kitchen fire and a visit from some of our crews to extinguish it.

7. Neglecting Appliance Recalls
• Home appliances cause an estimated 150,000 fires each year nationwide.
• A significant number of those fires were caused by defective appliances.
• We recommend you either register your appliance with the manufacturer or visit www.recalls.gov and check their list for any of your appliances.

8. Piling up Dirty Rags
• Oil soaked rags, whether it be from wood stain, paint or another do it yourself project, disposed of improperly can spontaneously combust causing a house fire.
• Dispose of them in an airtight metal can or lay them flat to dry.