No one ever thinks that they'll be the victim of an apartment fire, but the reality is that thousands of these kinds of fires occur every year, leaving residents homeless, seriously injured, or worse. While there are obviously circumstances outside of your control when you live in a shared space like an apartment, you can do things to help ensure that your personal space won't be the place a fire starts or spreads from. As a start, spend some time making sure you're not guilty of any of these fire hazard risks in your apartment. If you are, it's time to make some changes, to protect your own safety and that of the other residents in your building.
- Too many plugs in an outlet. If you live in a older apartment, chances are good that it doesn't quite have the number of outlets you need to plug in all of your gadgets and electronic devices. That's no excuse for jamming as many plugs into outlets as possible, as you could be asking for a fire with that kind of arrangement. Only leave items that you're actually using or that are a pain to unplug plugged in or use a power strip that you turn on and off to limit your risk.
- Furniture and personal items too close to radiators. Radiators get hot. Really, really hot. Flammable items left too close to them could ignite and could potentially lead to a pretty serious apartment fire. Keep all items in your apartment at a safe distance from your radiators, especially dry wood and paper.
- Unattended candles. Candles are a great way to help your space smell nice and get a bit of a glow, but they can turn on you if you forget to blow them out. Unattended candles are responsible for more than a few fires every year, so if you're going to light a candle make sure to keep an eye on it and never leave your house with it burning.
- Old, worn out appliances. While most toasters, coffee makers, and other small appliances aren't going to suddenly burst into flames and set your place alight, the reality is the risk of something like that happening increases as appliances get older and more worn out. Replace old appliances that show any signs of shorting out and always leave all small appliances unplugged.
- Stacks of paper or other flammable items. If there is a fire in your home, nothing will help it to spread more quickly than a pile of highly flammable items nearby. Don't keep extra boxes and papers you don't need in your apartment; it's not only takes up space, but it's also pretty risky.
- Dead smoke detector battery. Haven't bothered to check to see if your smoke detector is working? You are taking a very serious risk. Batteries cost very little and most building supers will replace them for you if you ask. Never let yours go dead.
- Frayed or damaged wires. One of the most common causes of apartment fires is frayed or otherwise damaged electrical wires. Whether your cat has been chewing on them or you accidentally damaged one, don't let it go thinking it won't be a big deal. It might be. Replace damaged cords and notify your landlord of any wires or electrical outlets in your place that are acting up.
- Flammable substances. It should go without saying, but don't store gasoline, lighter fluid, or other flammable substances in your apartment. They might not start the fire, but they can turn even a small spark into a flaming disaster in minutes.