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A hair straightener has become an essential household item for most women. Almost every girl or woman owns a hair straightener, but do you know how dangerous this popular hair styling tool can be?
Hair straighteners can start a fire if it is left switched on and unattended. Hair straighteners can heat up to 235°C (455°F), which is high enough to ignite flammable materials like cotton clothes, leather, and paper. Faulty wiring in the hair straightener can also cause an electrical fire.
This article explains how a hair straightener starts a fire and includes some cases of fires caused by hair straighteners. You may be surprised by the alarming statistics presented here. Read on to know more about these incidents, and learn how you can avoid the risk of letting your hair straightener start a fire.
How Do Hair Straighteners Start a Fire?
Hair straighteners can heat up to high temperatures within minutes and take around forty minutes to cool down. Hair straighteners will not catch fire by being this hot, but they can set ablaze any object touching them before they have cooled down. This is possible because of heat radiation.
When a hair straightener is left switched on, the hot plates will begin to emit heat waves. When these heat waves come in contact with a flammable object, it will absorb that radiant heat. As soon as the object’s ignition temperature is reached after absorbing the radiant heat, it will instantly catch fire.
This explains why leaving a hair straightener on the floor or on the bed can prove to be extremely dangerous. Many people have vinyl or laminated floors in their house, and both of these materials are combustible.
Most bed sheets are made of cotton, and cotton’s fire point is 210°C (410°F). Considering the fact that hair straighteners can reach temperatures as high as 200°C (392°F) to 235°C (455°F), they can set beds and clothes ablaze in no time.
Fires Caused by Hair Straighteners
According to the research conducted by the organization Electrical Safety First, 650,000 house fires in the United Kingdom were caused by hair straighteners and similar devices. This figure shows how common it is for hair straighteners to start a fire, and to highlight this issue, Electrical Safety First initiated a nationwide campaign called Pull the Plug.
In this campaign, they are encouraging people, especially women, to ensure that they switch off their devices and literally pull the plugs once they are done using them. This simple precaution will prevent any electrical appliance or hair styling tool from starting a fire.
One of the main reasons behind hair straighteners starting fires is the fact that they were left switched on for prolonged periods. The evidence for this lies in the fact that one in twelve women have admitted to leaving their hair straighteners switched on.
In addition to this, one in six women has admitted to being stressed about leaving an electrical beauty device powered on when they are not home.
These figures from research conducted by Electrical Safety First show most women’s negligent attitude towards hair styling tools. The organization’s research also shows that more than 200,000 individuals between the ages of 18 and 24 have experienced house fires caused by beauty appliances left switched on.
How to Prevent Your Hair Straightener From Starting a Fire?
Now that you know that hair straighteners can start a fire, here are some steps you can take to make sure yours never does:
- Always switch it off after you have finished using it. When you are styling your hair, you know when you’re done. At that point, always pull the plug and then move on to doing other things.
- Never leave your hair straightener on the floor or the bed. There are chances that your hair styling session may be interrupted by a phone call or some other distraction. In light of this possibility, invest in some safety devices.
- In the case of a hair straightener, buy a heat resistant mat for your straightener to rest on when you are not using it or when it is left to cool down. Heat resistant mats will shield any combustible surface such as clothes or laminated floors from absorbing the straightener’s radiated heat.
- Buy straighteners with an automatic turn off button. After all, you are only human and can sometimes forget to switch your hair straightener off. Be prepared for this possibility, and invest in a hair straightener with an auto shut off button. A good example is the Xtava Infrared Hair Straightener, which shuts off automatically after 60 minutes.
What Should You Do When Your Hair Straightener Starts a Fire?
Despite being super careful and taking all precautions, accidents can happen. It may not be your fault, or it may be a very honest mistake. Regardless of why the fire starts, if your hair straightener started a fire, don’t panic and follow the actions listed below.
- Get a fire extinguisher. In the chances of your bed sheet or a pile of clothes catching fire, you can easily run and get your fire extinguisher. Waste no time in panicking or gathering belongings such as your phone or notebook. Focus on putting out the fire first.
- Stay low and leave your house. In the case of a fire, another aggravating agent is the smoke. The smoke spreads faster than the fire does and can seriously intoxicate you. Stay low and cover your nose with your shirt or a random piece of cloth as you run out of the house.
- Close doors. As you run out of your house, close the doors behind you. A closed door can contain the fire for some time.
- Stay out. Once you are out of your house, don’t run back into a burning house. Don’t go in to save your belongings, and as heartless as it sounds, not even your pets. Call the fire protection service and leave the rescuing and salvaging to them. They are professionals and trained for these moments.
Hair straighteners can start a fire and this is possible when they are left unattended and switched on for a long time on combustible surfaces.
There are many cases of fire hazards caused by hair straighteners. However, it is easy to prevent your hair straightener from starting a fire. Always remember to switch it off or buy a hair straightener with an automatic switch-off button. Never leave your hair straightener on combustible surfaces such as your bed or floor and invest in a heat resistant mat or pouch for your hair straightener.
In case a fire starts, do not panic and act quickly. If it is a small fire, get the fire extinguisher and put it out, and if the fire has spread in your room or house, leave immediately. Don’t worry about your belongings or pets. Close the doors on your way out to contain the fire for some time. Stay out of the house once you are out and call a fire protection service immediately.