Five ways to protect the inside of your home from fire dangers

PHOENIX - Houses burn down all the time and most people never see it coming until they're standing in the street looking at the flames -- if they're lucky enough to get out at all.

ABC15 is taking action to look at the top five hidden fire dangers you can easily fix right now. 

1. Cooking fires

Cooking fires are the cause of nearly half of all home blazes. But the hidden fire danger is much sneaker than burnt dinner. Instead of looking at the stove, experts say look above it - at the exhaust fan. 

"Eventually there's so much buildup of grease that if you did have a cooking fire, it would ignite the grease and cause a much bigger fire and cause it to spread a lot quicker," said Peter Earls, a firefighter with the Scottsdale Fire Department. "If there's enough grease, eventually while you're cooking it heats up and drips down onto the cooking surface and causes a problem." 

The fix is simple: clean the fan filter or screen often.

2. The dryer

Everyone knows the lint trap needs to be cleaned but did you know that lint buildup in the exhaust hose is actually the main danger?

"People don't notice that it's back there but it does build up with quite a bit of lint and that causes a problem because it doesn't allow the dryer to vent properly and that'll cause it to overheat," said Earls. 

If clothes aren't getting dry in a normal amount of time, that could signal a blockage. But it's safer to check before there's a major problem and the best way to do that is looking at the place where the dryer vents to the outside. 

The fix: clean out the vent hose or have a professional appliance tech do it for you. 

3. Water heater

The main concern here is keeping the pilot light clear and making sure there isn't flammable material stacked up next to the water heater. 

"If you get dust, debris, lint, anything that would ignite there's a pilot light that's going to kick on every time your water heater kids on," said Earls. 

The fix: clean the area around the water heater and keep three feet of clear space around the appliance. 

4. The bathroom exhaust fan

"They're only designed for short use. So if they run over an extended period the fan itself starts to heat up," said Earls. "It starts to get hot and over time it will ignite the wood [that it's attached to]."

The fix: Turn off the fan when it's not needed. 

5. Wood piles around the property  

"It's just a way for, a conduit, for wildfire to get to your house if you have wood up against the home," said Earls. 

The fix: Clear firewood piles or make sure they're at least 30 feet away from the house.  

RELATED: 5 tips to keep your home safe from brush fires

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