House fires aren’t all started by candles, stove or chimneys. We explore some of the stranger causes, so you can help prevent them...
Fire and Rescue services in Great Britain were called to over 200,000 fires between April 2013 and March 2014, according to official government data – once again underlining the importance of home insurance cover.
How many of these unusual causes of house fire were you aware of...?
The surprising source of many a fire, loose batteries – even the little tiddlers (AAA) – are a potential danger in our homes. If they still carry some charge and are left to jostle around together (in a bag, for example), their terminals could touch causing a short-circuit effect leading to combustion. Keeping them in metal containers, or where they can easily overheat in the sun is also highly dangerous.
Battery cases can be bought to house heavier duty models, but the least you can do is cover up the ends of your spares with tape. Batteries need to be properly discarded. More and more shops have recycling drop-offs where you can safely dump your old cells.
Another crazy one, but sunlight reflecting off a mirror and onto something like curtains or a sofa, can quite easily spark a fire. Reflective surfaces intensify the sun’s rays, so it’s crucial to ensure they’re never placed in direct view of sunlight in the home.
Convex mirrors or spherical glass of any sort can have this effect, so bear it in mind when arranging your home.
An alarming amount of household objects are potentially flammable - think deodorant, sunscreen, bathroom cleaner, nail polish, even oranges contain a flammable chemical - and must be kept a safe distance from heat at all costs.
Simple, obvious measures must be taken, so always keep the cap on anything you believe to be flammable and of course clean away any spillages quickly and effectively. If you get liquids on your hands don't be tempted to wipe on your clothes either, as these could just as easily catch light.
OK stay with us – over the years there’s actually been plenty of incidents traced back to a pet or animal from the outside world unwittingly triggering a blaze. These unthinkable tales include cats or dogs leaping onto kitchen sideboards, accidently hitting the toaster controls, or even pigeons absent-mindedly dropping discarded cigarettes down chimneys.
Mice too are never far away from blame, particularly when it comes to nibbling through electrical wiring. If they attack an appliance like the fridge freezer, it can prove highly dangerous.
Finally, never underestimate our capacity for loss of concentration. Fire brigades report endless cases of blazes being started through moments of sheer madness. One, for example, resulted from a homeowner trying to dry off a toilet roll that had fallen down the loo… in a microwave.
Washing machines, dishwashers and fridge freezers too prove a hazard for many – particularly after sloppy installation or poor upkeep. It doesn’t take a lot to keep important appliances like this properly maintained, and if you’re unsure about anything, never hesitate to get the pros in.