13 Fire Hazards Hidden in Your Home — and What To Do About Them

Common household items that could pose a fire hazard AI-generated image

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Common household items that could pose a fire hazard AI-generated image
Cheapism / DALL-E 3

Fire Warning

Unbeknownst to many people, certain common objects in our homes can be a fire hazard. To make things trickier, these hidden hazards often go unnoticed — posing a real risk to humans and pets. Many stem from everyday objects or situations that seem innocent but can quickly escalate into dangerous fires. From overloaded electrical outlets to improperly stored chemical products, these hazards lurk in the background and can silently increase the risk of a catastrophic event. 

Here are 13 common fire hazards hidden in your home, plus tips on how to properly fix them to maximize safety and prevent long-term issues. 

Power Strip Full of Electrical Power Cables

1. Overloaded Electrical Outlets

Overloading electrical outlets or power extenders with too many appliances can cause overheating and potentially start a fire. This is especially true with devices like heaters or hairdryers that draw a lot of power. To prevent this, use power strips with built-in circuit breakers to distribute high-energy appliances across multiple outlets.

Cleaning Lint Trap

2. Lint Buildup in Dryer Vents

Lint can accumulate in your dryer's lint trap and in the venting hose, posing a significant fire risk due to the lint's high flammability when exposed to heat. To mitigate this commonly overlooked hazard, consider cleaning  the lint trap after each use and have the venting system professionally inspected and cleaned at least once a year. 

Home fire was caused by faulty electrical wiring.

3. Old or Faulty Wiring

Outdated or damaged electrical wiring that hides within walls or building structures can pose a fire hazard. Signs of faulty wiring include frequent fuse blowouts or flickering lights. If you suspect this to be an issue in your home, consider hiring a licensed electrician to inspect and replace old wiring to prevent potential electrical fires or overheating of circuits — both of which can be extremely costly to repair.

Plastic bottles and metallic tins having with different hazardous warning labels. Illustration of the concept of alert of chemical classification
Dragon Claws/istockphoto

4. Improperly Stored Flammable Materials

Flammable materials and items like paint, industrial solvents, rubbing alcohol, lighters, and gasoline can ignite or explode if stored near heat sources or in areas with poor ventilation. To minimize the fire risk these items pose, store them in well-ventilated areas, away from heat sources, and ideally in a dedicated storage cabinet.

Related: 20 Home Maintenance Mistakes A Responsible Homeowner Should Never Make 

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Liudmila Chernetska/istockphoto

5. Unattended Candles

This one should go without saying, but candles can easily tip over and ignite nearby materials like curtains, furniture, or tablecloths. To prevent this, remember to never leave candles unattended — especially in rooms with drafts, pets, or children. You can also consider using flameless LED candles as a safer alternative.

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Woman preparing quinoa vegetable mix cooked in a frying pan

6. Unattended Cooking

In the U.S., cooking or grease fires are the leading cause of home fires; they cause "thousands of injuries every year," according to the Red Cross. To prevent becoming a statistic, never leave cooking food unattended, particularly when cooking at high temperatures. Always stay in the kitchen and have a fire extinguisher nearby.

Related: 21 Cooking Hazards That Could Have Disastrous Results

Close-up View Of Electric Radiator Heater In Living Room With Blurred Background
Multicolored pillows

8. Clutter Near Heat Sources

Flammable items stored near heat sources like furnaces, fireplaces, and stoves can easily catch on fire if left unattended. To err on the side of caution, consider maintaining a clear space around these areas and remember to regularly check for any items that might have been inadvertently placed too close to these sources. 

smoke detector fire alarm detector home safety device setup at home hotel room ceiling

9. Faulty Smoke Detectors

Smoke detectors are essential for early fire detection and should ideally be installed in every bedroom, common area, and hallway throughout the house. To ensure your smoke detectors are working well, consider testing them once a month and replace batteries annually, or as needed. It’s also important to replace the entire unit every 10 years, or according to the manufacturer's instructions.

Woman Using Fire Extinguisher To Stop Fire

10. Grease Buildup

Over time, grease can accumulate on stovetops and in ovens, which can also create a fire hazard. To stay on top of this, remember to give your kitchen a deep clean regularly to remove grease buildup and check for any damage to structures or appliances. If a grease fire does start while you're in the kitchen, avoid pouring water on it, as this can cause it to spread or splash onto those standing nearby. 

Instead, use a fire extinguisher rated for grease fires — or, in the absence of one, cover the flames with a metal lid or use baking soda to extinguish small fires. 

Young carpenter using sander while working on a piece of wood.

11. Accumulation of Sawdust

Sawdust, which is often found in garages or basements where wood is cut or sanded, can be a significant fire hazard. This is due to the fine particles' propensity to ignite from even small sparks, or from high heat emitted from power tools, smoking, or faulty electrical wiring. To prevent this, remember to regularly clean up sawdust and ensure good ventilation in these areas to reduce the risk of a fire. 

Consider also storing sawdust in a sealed metal container away from any potential ignition sources.

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Vlad Yushinov/istockphoto

12. Blocked Air Vents in Electronics

Dust and debris can accumulate in the air vents of electronic appliances like TVs, computers, and gaming consoles, leading to overheating and a potential fire hazard. Regularly inspecting and cleaning these vents to ensure proper ventilation is suggested to prevent overheating and keep your devices running at their best. 

incandescent lamp and energy-efficient LED lamp in your hands.
Olena Vasylieva/istockphoto

13. Exposed Lightbulbs in Closets or Storage Areas

Exposed or uncovered lightbulbs — particularly incandescent bulbs — can generate a good amount of heat that can ignite nearby flammable materials. This is especially hazardous in closets, storage areas, or other confined spaces where clothes, linens, or other combustible items might come into contact with the bulb. 

To mitigate this risk, use light fixtures with covers or shades, or consider switching to LED bulbs, which generate significantly less heat.