15 Hidden Fire Hazards in Your Home

You know better than to leave candles burning in unattended rooms and you always empty the dryer lint trap after you take clothes out of the dryer. But even if you take basic precautions against house fires, there’s still a chance you might experience one in your lifetime. Of all fires reported in the United States each year, 31% occur in residential homes. It’s enough to scare even the most diligent homeowner.

Keep your home protected against a house fire by learning about the most surprising hidden fire hazards lurking around the house. How many do you have?

1. Wires

electrical wiring

Electrical wiring | daoleduc/iStock/Getty Images

You may not think about your home’s electrical wiring very often — after all, it’s hidden behind the walls. But if you have an old home with knob and tube wiring or if you accidentally nail into a live wire while you’re hanging up that new picture frame, you may have a fire hazard on your hands.

A licensed electrician can assess your wiring and may even suggest replacing your circuit breaker with an arc-fault circuit interrupter (they cost about $30) for added fire safety.

Next: Here’s another great argument to avoid this in the kitchen.

2. Kitchen clutter

stainless steel stove with oven

Stainless steel stove with oven | dpproductions/iStock/Getty Images

So many home fires start in the kitchen. Keep cooking areas clear by removing flammable items such as cookbooks, towels, and pot holders and leaving a space of at least 3 feet between your cooktop and the nearest item. Another key piece of advice? Never leave the stove unattended while you’re using it.

Next: Many house fires start here.

3. Dryers

Clothes Dryer Lint

Lint | pastorscott/iStock/Getty Images

Ah yes, dryer fires, the ones you always hear about. But one thing you may not realize is that emptying the removable lint trap sometimes isn’t enough. Check for lint buildup deep inside the vent and inside the tube. If you’re unsure, you can always hire someone to clear it out and ensure you’re totally safe.

Next: This item needs your immediate attention.

4. Smoke detectors

Smoke detector

Smoke detector | AdrianHancu/iStock/Getty Images

The thing about smoke detectors is that they only protect you against fires if the batteries are working. Experts recommend that you test the batteries every month, replace them twice per year, and replace your entire unit every 10 years. Your life — and your family’s lives — could depend on it.

Next: These are cheap to replace and can save your life.

5. Loose outlets

plugging cord into outlet

Outlet | tab1962/iStock/Getty Images

Electrical outlets can loosen over time with use, which is not just annoying when you’re trying to plug something in — it’s also a major hidden fire hazard. Once you notice your electrical cords falling out, head to the home improvement store and pick up a new outlet. It’s an easy way to prevent a house fire.

Next: It’s unsafe to plug this in.

6. Antiques

Vintage antique fan

Antique fan | ArisSu/iStock/Getty Images

Who can forget the infamous slow cooker scene from the hit show This is Us? Outdated appliances and other household items like lamps, fans, and electronics are much more likely to have damaged wiring that can spark and cause a fire. Either keep these items unplugged and just use them as decoration or pay to have them professionally rewired.

Next: Anyone taking on projects needs to be wary of this.

7. Sawdust

Sawdust pile

Sawdust | halfpoint/iStock/Getty Images

Undergoing a renovation? All that sawdust floating around in the air can be a real fire hazard. Sawdust burns faster than other kinds of dust and it accumulates quickly. You’ll need to use a vacuum that’s equipped to handle this type of dust to get the area clean and fireproof.

Next: This may save you time, but it can start a fire.

8. High heat


Burner | Tim Boyle/Getty Images

Turning up your gas burner too high while you’re cooking can have some major drawbacks. Besides just making you likely to burn dinner, it can make grease or other food matter bubble over and may even start a kitchen fire. Use the lowest heat setting you can and keep a close eye on the stove while you’re cooking.

Next: This is the leading cause of home fire deaths.

9. Cigarettes

Ash tray

Ashtray | VladyslavDanilin/iStock/Getty Images

Sure, maybe you don’t smoke, but what about your party guests? Keep an ashtray handy for anyone lighting up outside and make sure that all cigarettes are fully extinguished before you head to bed. Kitchen fires are the most numerous, but it’s cigarettes that cause the most home fire deaths each year.

Next: These are risky to use at home.

10. Candles

Candle burning in a glass jar

Candle | Rena-Marie/iStock/Getty Images

These days there are so many options for candle loves that don’t involve open flames. But if you’re set on burning your favorite candles at home, take the proper precautions before you do. Always keep candles in proper holders and in open areas away from flammable items like curtains and furniture. Also, put them up high where kids and pets can’t knock them over.

Next: Trust a professional to check these once per year.

11. Chimneys

Fireplace with fire burning

Fireplace | DigitalVision/Getty Images

A working fireplace is such a nice feature to have in your home. It’s also a huge fire hazard.

Schedule regular cleanings and inspections with a professional if you have a fireplace, chimney, or woodstove in your home. Never go to bed or leave the house before the fire is fully extinguished.

Next: You’re better off not using these at all.

12. Space heaters

space heater

Space heater | Svedoliver/iStock/Getty Images

It’s vital to keep space heaters at least three feet away from anything flammable including bedding, curtains, furniture, carpets, and stuffed animals. Use these extra heat sources sparingly, but if you must, always use them safely.

Next: Many people are guilty of ignoring this problem.

13. Electrical cords

Power strip with plugged in cords

Cords | artisteer/iStock/Getty Images

Use an item like your phone charger too often and the electrical cord may bend and fray, leaving exposed wires. It goes without saying that this is a huge fire hazard that you should always avoid. Replace any charging cords immediately when you see exposed wires.

Next: Make sure this item is functioning.

14. Fire extinguishers

Fire extinguisher

Working fire extinguisher | Pavel Byrkin/iStock/Getty Images

If you’ve had a fire extinguisher sitting around for years, it’s probably time to replace it. These are so important to have in your home and could save your house from burning down. The best place to keep one? In the kitchen where a file is most likely to break out.

Next: Never put this away hot.

15. Lawnmowers

Mowing the grass

Lawn mower | Bryan A. Jackson/iStock/Getty Images

Putting your lawn mower away while it’s still hot from use can be disastrous. Give it plenty of time to cool before you store it in the garage or shed or you risk starting a fire that could have been prevented.

Read more: Never Ignore These 15 Signs of Danger in Your Home

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