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November 29, 2022 4 min read

 

How to Improve Fire Safety in Your Home

At Docking Drawer, we pride ourselves on creating smart, simple, and safe electrical solutions for your home—with safety being of the utmost importance. Modern homes boast a variety of potential fire hazards, but the good news is that many house fires are preventable when the right preventive measures are taken. Learn more below about how house fires start and the must-have solution we offer to help reduce fire hazards in your home.

What are the most common household fire hazards?

When you think of household fire hazards, the first scenarios that come to mind likely involve cooking mishaps. While fires can certainly be caused by human error, Consumer Reports performed an in-depth analysis of National Fire Incident Reporting System (NFIRS) data that showed more than half of all house fires (approximately 69,000) throughout a seven-year span had appliances –like dishwashers, refrigerators and microwaves– listed as the primary cause1.

common fire hazards in homes

Image of a dishwasher involved in a house fire

Did you know that your dishwasher poses a potential fire risk?

You may not be surprised that clothes dryers and kitchen ranges are the most common appliances involved in house fires¹, but many other less suspecting appliances pose a threat to fire safety, such as:

  • Microwaves - a common cause of fires is running a microwave without food inside.
  • Refrigerators - fires have started due to a light bulb short-circuiting and staying on when the refrigerator door is shut.
  • Toasters & toaster ovens - these appliances have been known to turn on by themselves. A standard pop-up toaster mechanism may also jam while toasting.
  • Dishwashers - issues with wiring within the dishwasher control panel can be a fire hazard, as can a circuit board compromised by rinse aid leaks.

Modern appliance technology can increase the risk of house fires.

It is no surprise that as technology advances, household appliances become more complex. While high-tech appliance innovations can certainly be convenient, there are risks involved. For example, at a residence in Brooklyn, N.Y., a Maytag gas range was unintentionally turned on because the electromagnetic signals from a mobile device interfered with the microcomputer of the range¹. As technology continues to progress, it is increasingly important to implement safety precautions in the home to help reduce the likelihood of a house fire.

What can be done to help prevent a fire in your home?

According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, almost 40% of house fires between 2017 and 2019 were related to cooking equipment, and appliances such as dishwashers and refrigerators attributed to an additional 10,000 residential fires during that same period2. So, what can you do to help reduce the chances of a fire in your home? 


The U.S. Fire Administration recommends several appliance safety guidelines3, including:

  • Always plug major appliances (refrigerators, dishwashers, etc.) directly into a wall outlet
  • Never use extension cords for large appliances
  • Unplug small appliances (microwaves, toasters, toaster ovens etc.) when they are not in use
  • Use appliance light bulbs that match the recommended wattage
  • If the appliance has a cracked, damaged or loose cord, replace the appliance

In addition to adhering to these recommended guidelines, Docking Drawer has developed a new and innovative product that offers even greater peace of mind when it comes to appliance-fire safety in your home: The Safety Interlock Outlet with Smoke & Heat Sensor.


Ways to prevent house fires

Dishwasher appliance with Docking Drawer’s Safety Interlock Outlet with Smoke & Heat Sensor

Make your home safer with one simple accessory

Docking Drawer’s Safety Interlock Outlet with Smoke & Heat Sensory is the perfect complement to smoke detectors and other fire safety equipment in your home. This single gang electrical outlet, featuring one NEMA 5-15 receptacle and one interlock switch connector, is paired with a remote smoke and heat sensor which mounts near the outlet. As the name suggests, the sensor detects both heat and smoke, de-energizing the electrical outlet if surrounding temperatures exceed 135°F or rise more than 15°F per minute, or at the first sign of smoke. De-energizing the outlet cuts the power completely, turning off the connected appliance that’s showing signs of overheating or fire.


This product provides a layer of safety for large appliances like dishwashers, for any appliance that’s left connected inside of an enclosed space (like toaster ovens that are plugged into a pantry outlet, for instance), for 3D printing enclosures and more. Intended for supplementary protection, this does not take the place of an approved smoke detector, as required by code. See this product in action, here!




From running your dishwasher to heating a meal in the microwave, modern appliances play a large role in our day-to-day activities. By taking small measures (like following appliance fire safety guidelines) and installing protective accessories, you can proactively protect your home and your family from the risk of household fire.


Sources:

1 Consumer Reports. (2012, March). Appliance fires pose a safety concern. Millions of dishwashers, fridges, ranges, and more are on recall lists. https://www.consumerreports.org/cro/magazine/2012/03/appliance-fires-is-your-home-safe/index.htm 

2 Miller, David. (2022) 2017 – 2019 Residential Fire Loss Estimates. U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. https://www.cpsc.gov/s3fs-public/2017-to-2019-Residential-Fire-Loss-Estimates.pdf 

3Electrical and Appliance Fire Safety. U.S. Fire Administration. https://www.usfa.fema.gov/downloads/pdf/publications/electrical_appliance_fire_safety_card.pdf