Why, Where, and How to Store Flammables at Home

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Look around you. Can you see rubbing alcohol, nail polish, or hand sanitizer? Then you’re a typical homeowner who has flammable liquids inside your house. 

The National Fire Protection Association estimates that 51,000 home fires each year are caused by combustible or flammable liquids. It resulted in 168 fatalities, 1,029 injuries, and a $644 loss in properties. 

match on fire

What Are Flammables?

Simply put, flammable liquids are liquids that can burn. While they don’t burn or explode themselves, they evaporate and form flammable mixtures in the air. These vapors can travel for long distances and catch fire when exposed to a certain temperature.

Every homeowner should store their flammable liquids safely to reduce the risks of fire. In addition, safely keeping your flammables at home protects the well-being of your family. Some common household items that are considered flammables include:

  • Non-dairy creamer
  • Aerosol cans
  • Linseed oil
  • Rubbing alcohol
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Gasoline and turpentine
  • Paint thinner, paint, varnish
  • Oranges
  • Nail polish and nail polish remover
  • Stain removers

How to Safely Store Flammable Liquids 

1. Keep Highly Flammable Liquids in a Well-Ventilated Area

If you have highly flammable liquids at home, keep them in a well-ventilated space that is detached from your house. This removes flammable vapors, reducing not only fire but also health problems. Some homeowners make a mistake by storing them in their basement, garage, or storage room, but this is a dangerous idea.    

2. Never Store Flammables Near Other Sources of Ignition

Flammable liquids need to be kept away from open flame or other ignition sources, including your car or cigarettes. In other words, never smoke near the storage of highly flammable liquids. Have a “no smoking” sign around where you store your flammables.

Also, keep a safe distance between your flammables and the HVAC systems in your home. Be aware that some household appliances, like dryers and washers, can cause flammables to spark. Other possible ignition sources include:

  • Lit cigarettes
  • Sparks from pilot lights on gas boilers, gas cookers, and ovens.
  • Welding equipment
  • Any electrical appliance with a motor
  • Hot surfaces, like lamps, light bulbs, wood burners, and furnaces

3. Pay Attention to Your Storage Area’s Temperature

The storage area of your flammables must be away from high heat, including direct sunlight and hot summer temperatures. If you don’t have a space in your home with these requirements, you can build a storage cabinet. You may also consider buying flammable liquid storage from local hardware stores near you.

Remember to make your storage area not accessible to children and pets, or it should always be locked.

4. Store Kitchen Flammables in Airtight Containers

There are items in your kitchen, such as flour or instant coffee, which are hazardous in certain conditions, especially around children. Keep in mind that anything that can form a dust cloud is ignitable. For instance, it’s risky to store flour over a gas burner, which can spill over a naked flame because this can cause a fire.

To prevent this from happening, store these items in airtight containers with durable and secure lids that won’t accidentally release. In case of spilling, use a brush and shovel to pick up most of it, finishing it with a vacuum. Other safe household flammables storage are:

  • Dark cupboards since they’re out of sunlight and away from ignition sources.
  • If you’re using shelves, make sure that they’re heavy-duty to support the weight. 
  • If your property has two or more floors, it’s always safer to store your kitchen flammables (as opposed to highly flammables) on the lowest floor since it’s the most accessible location for firefighters to access.

What to Do in Case Flammables Caused Fire

Always have a fire extinguisher within reach but make sure it’s away from the stove. It can help you suppress flames quickly. But in the event of a disaster, evacuate your home immediately and call your local fire department. When it’s safe to go back home, take pictures right away to document damage and call your insurance for your claims. 

If you think your kitchen can still be saved, it’s important to clean up all the smoke and soot particles to avoid health risks. If the damage is severe, consider contacting fire restoration professionals like PuroClean, who are available 24/7 with specialized tools and experience to restore your home.

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