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20 Hidden Things in Your Home That May Be a Fire Hazard

Keep your family and property safe by being mindful of these hidden fire dangers in your home.

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Installation of a smoke alarmPhovoir/Shutterstock

Smoke detector

Every year people die because their smoke detectors didn’t go off during a fire. That’s usually because the batteries were dead (or had been removed to stop false alarms) or the detector was past its useful life or was located where occupants couldn’t hear the alarm. See how to check your smoke detector and why you need to write the date on your smoke detector. 

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fire while cooking on stoveFamily Handyman

Potential cooking fire

A towel or curtains hanging too close to an unattended stove can ignite. The statistics: Cooking fires cause 23 percent of home fires and 9 percent of deaths. The grease in an unattended frying pan catches on fire and ignites nearby combustibles, which in turn ignite curtains, cabinets or anything else in the vicinity.

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Extension Cord FireFamily Handyman

Potential extension cord fire

Overloaded extension cords, bad connections and other careless use of electrical devices can melt wire insulation and cause a fire. The statistics: Electrical equipment causes 9 percent of home fires and 10 percent of deaths. Overloaded extension cords, hidden electrical shorts, bad connections, and oversized bulbs and fixtures can ignite nearby combustibles and burn down your house.

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Gas Water Heater FireFamily Handyman

Potential gas water heater fire

Clothes piled too close to a gas water heater can ignite when the water heater comes on. The protective doors for the gas burners are missing. Appliances (clothes dryers and gas water heaters) cause 7 percent of home fires and 4 percent of deaths. After problems with stoves and heaters, the biggest culprits in appliance fires are lint in dryers and combustibles near gas water heaters. Find out the 10 little things that could be making your home a fire hazard.

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Closeup shot of blue fire from domestic kitchen stove. Gas cooker with burning flames propane gas.Bilanol/Shutterstock

Turning the heat too high when you cook

Cranking up the heat too high can be lethal, even if you’re in the kitchen while you cook. Kevin Kelley, senior director of community preparedness programs for the American Red Cross, recommends paying close attention and turning off the burner if you see smoke or grease starting to boil while frying food.

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dirty stoveFamily Handyman

Having a dirty stove while you cook

If your stove is covered with grease and other flammable grime, a small kitchen fire can get out of hand quickly. Clean and clear the area around the stove before turning on the heat. (Learn how to keep your kitchen health-inspector approved in less than 5 minutes.) Make sure you know this home fire drill that could save your family’s life.

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Fireplace safety

Your home’s chimney should be swept at least once a year, according to the National Fire Protection Association. This fire safety measure will help remove soot and debris which could become a fire hazard. And when using the fireplace, keep any flammable materials, such as blankets, curtains, and rugs away from the fireplace and never leave children unattended near a working fireplace.

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sawdustFamily Handyman


Sawdust is highly combustible and shouldn’t be left around the garage or in the shop. There are a lot of components like electrical wiring, a short spark from metal objects colliding and chemicals during woodworking projects that can quickly ignite a sawdust pile. Keep your workspace clean with these handy tips.

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loose outletsFamily Handyman

Loose outlets

The constant movement of loose electrical outlets can loosen the wires connected to the outlet and create dangerous arcing. Luckily, the fix is simple, check it out here.

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Ceiling Lighting FixtureAris Suwanmalee/Shutterstock


The old wiring of antique appliances makes them a safety risk because the wiring dries and becomes brittle, which could fuel a fire. For those who especially love shopping for vintage light fixtures it’s imperative to know how old the wiring is, if the wiring has been replaced and whether the wiring is European or from the U.S. Look for a UL (Underwriters Laboratories) label somewhere on the wiring for a quick reference to see if it’s safe. UL tests lighting fixtures for safety. Check out the other super useful acronyms DIYers need to know.

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Laptops have caused fires in homes in the past. In 2013 a laptop running on a bed for 16 to 18 hours with a recalled battery in a Manassas, Virginia condo contributed to a fire that burned the condo down, according to a NBC Washington report. It seems the battery played the bigger role in igniting the blankets and comforter than the laptop. Most laptops include automatic shutdowns to prevent them from overheating. Find out where you can take an old laptop that you no longer use.

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9 Volt battery regtangle closeup shotJiradet Ponari/Shutterstock

9-Volt batteries in junk drawers

People know a 9-volt battery and some steel wool is a great fire starter. So batteries shouldn’t be kept loose in a junk drawer, especially 9-volt batteries. It’s possible that the metal in the junk drawer could short out a 9-volt battery and spark a fire. It’s best to keep batteries in the packaging or keep the posts covered with tape. Check with local officials on how to best dispose of 9-volt batteries. Just don’t keep a 9-volt battery in your pocket with change like one reader did. Read about what happened and 29 other spectacular fails around the house.

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Dust bunnies

There’s a super important reason why dusting is a vital chore at home. Those dust bunnies when near a spark will ignite and spread a fire quickly. Dust bunnies near a space heater and electrical sockets are a huge fire hazard. Make your home dust bunny free with these 100 essential cleaning hacks for your home.

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Different glassware in a white closet on the shelf. Banks, jugs, glasses, mugs.Olya Detry/Shutterstock


According to a Science Focus article, fishbowls, jam jars and glass door knobs have helped cause home fires in the past. If they stand in direct sunlight the rays from the sun can become concentrated enough to begin combustion. Check out an easy way to reduce the heat in a room coming from direct sunlight.

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Close up of Illuminated light bulb with copy space.Summer Photographer/Shutterstock

Exposed lightbulbs

Those closet lights that don’t have an enclosure around them pose a fire and safety risk in the home. According to Buell Inspections, under normal circumstances a 60-watt light bulb will not get hotter than 175 degrees Fahrenheit but under some conditions it could reach close to between 290-500 degrees, high enough to ignite things likes table tennis balls, which begin to melt around 130-150 degrees, according to Nittaku, a table tennis equipment manufacturer. Find out how to pick LED lights that will help you save on energy costs.

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background of paper textures piled ready to recyclePureRadiancePhoto/Shutterstock


It should go without saying that paper is a huge contributor to home fires but it’s the location of those papers that people don’t pay close enough attention to at home. Newspaper in the garage near the gas tank for the lawn mower is a common ignition source. See how to safely store gasoline. Find a good, secret hiding place for your valuable papers in your home, well away from any ignition sources.

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Dryer lint

In a four-year span, there are nearly 25,000 dryer fires, which cause millions of dollars in damage and hundreds of injuries, some fatal. Dryer fires start when built-up lint near the motor, gas burners or heating elements catch on fire. This fire can then spread to ignite lint in the vent pipe. Make sure you’re regularly cleaning the lint trap in your dryer and the vent pipe.

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Chinese Asian woman in wellness beauty spa having aroma therapy massage with essential oil, looking relaxedKzenon/Shutterstock

Massage oil

According to CTV in Canada, massage oils can pose a hidden risk if they seep into towels that don’t get properly cleaned. Some massage oils contain flaxseed or linseed, which have smoke points of around 225 degrees Fahrenheit, and they can remain on towels that get ran through a dryer without getting washed first or they get left in piles of hot towels.

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Closeup portrait, handsome young guy with big glasses barbecuing yummy food, isolated outside backgroundAshTproductions/Shutterstock


Make sure your grill is not directly underneath any part of the house when grilling and make sure you keep the grease trap clean after uses. If the flame on your grill goes out make sure to wait the proper amount of time suggested by the grill manufacturer before reigniting the grill.

Photo: Via Amazon

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Portrait of guy smoking cigarette. Mixed race man with african hair, dark skin and black beardAnnaTamila/Shutterstock

Garage smoking

Smokers who aren’t allowed to smoke in the house will often seek refuge in the garage. But the garage is not a safe place to smoke because of the various flammable liquids that reside there. Next, find out the everyday emergencies you need to know how to manage.

The Family Handyman
Originally Published on The Family Handyman