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Prevent Fire Damage in the Attic
By the RestorationSOS Educational Staff
Most homes have attics and usually these rooms or spaces are used primarily for storage of rarely used items and, as such, this area of the home is rarely visited. While the storage space is a definite plus, attics may also be the source for a house fire to ignite and, depending on its size, can allow for the blaze to spread throughout the home in a matter of minutes. Fire departments report an average of 10,000 attic fires in residential structures every year and these blazes are responsible for 30 deaths and $500 million in property damage annually.
Because attics are not commonly occupied spaces, they rarely are equipped with smoke alarms which means that a fire that starts may burn for some time until it reaches the point where it is visible from the outside. Occasionally, smoke may escape downstairs and trigger smoke alarms, but this is the exception rather than the rule.
The most common cause of attic fires is heat from powered electrical equipment along with faulty wiring and electrical malfunction. If the house is an older construction, the wiring should be thoroughly checked for signs of fraying or corrosion. Replace any damaged wiring immediately.
Some dry stored items may ignite if the level of heat in the attic reaches a certain point. It is usually necessary to remove such items and store them in a cooler, dry space. Also, hazardous products such as chemicals, batteries, or flammable liquids should not be stored in the attic due to the risk of possible combustion.
Smoke detectors should be installed in all levels of your home, including the attic. Fires spread rapidly, and you cannot afford to wait until the blaze has reached sufficient size to trigger alarms on lower levels.
Air conditioning or heating units may be installed in the attic. Be sure to conduct proper maintenance and inspection of these units on a regular basis to make sure they are in good working order and repair any defects or malfunctions as they occur.
Attic fires may also start if heat from a chimney becomes great enough to cause items in the attic to ignite. Consider installing a ventilation fan in your attic to cool the area thoroughly. The less heat there is, the less likely the chance for an unexpected ignition.
In the event of smoke in your home where the source cannot be easily determined, chances are it is coming from a fire in your attic. Don't wait, evacuate your home immediately and dial 911. Attic fires can spread rapidly and at some point the ceiling above may collapse.