How to Prevent House Fires:
1: Check and monitor Electrical Appliances, Cords, and Outlets
- Are your electrical appliances in good condition, without loose or frayed cords or plugs?
- Are your outlets overloaded with plugs from the TV, computer, printer, video game system, and stereo?
- Are you overusing an extension cord?
- Do the light fixtures in your home use bulbs that are the correct wattage?
- Does your home contain GFCIs (ground fault circuit interrupters) and/or AFCIs (arc fault circuit interrupters), which prevent electrical shock and fire by shutting off faulty circuits?
Tips for using appliances, cords, and outlets:
- Replace or professionally repair any appliances that spark, smell unusual, or overheat.
- Don’t run electrical wires under rugs.
- Make sure lamps and nightlights are not touching bedspreads, drapes, or other fabrics.
- Use caution when using electric blankets.
- Don’t let kids use kitchen appliances by themselves and supervise any art or science projects that involve electrical devices.
- Cover any outlets that are not in use with plastic safety covers if you have toddlers or young children in your home.
2: Portable Heaters
Before plugging in your space heater, make sure you know how to use it safely:
- Carefully read the directions for its use.
- Never place a space heater where a child or pet could accidentally knock it over.
- Never place a space heater too close to a bed, especially a child’s bed.
- Keep newspapers, magazines, and fabrics from curtains, clothes, or bedding away from space heaters, radiators, and fireplaces.
- Heaters should be at least 3 feet from anything flammable.
3: Kitchen Appliances
Cooking is the leading cause of home fires in the United States. A fire can start from food left unsupervised on a stove or in an oven or microwave
- grease spills
- a dish towel too close to a burner
- a toaster or toaster oven flare-up
- a coffee pot accidentally left on
Tips for using the stove:
- Always supervise kids while cooking.
- Turn all pot handles in so they can’t be knocked over.
- Don’t wear loose-fitting clothing that could catch fire around the stove.
- Keep fireplaces clean and covered with a screen to stop sparks from jumping out.
- Only wood should be burned in the fireplace — paper and other materials can escape while burning and start a fire on nearby items.
- Never leave a fire burning unattended.
- Make sure a fire is completely put out before leaving the house or going to bed.
- Have the chimney professionally cleaned once a year.
According to the National Fire Prevention Association (NFPA), cigarettes are the No. 1 cause of fire deaths in the United States, killing about 1,000 people per year. Most fires start when ashes or butts fall into couches and chairs.
If you smoke:
- Be especially careful around upholstered furniture.
- Never smoke in bed.
- Make sure cigarettes are completely out before you toss them into the trash.
6: Matches and Lighters
Playing with matches is still the leading cause of fire-related deaths and injuries for kids younger than 5.
- Always keep matches and lighters out of children’s reach.
- Store flammable materials such as gasoline, kerosene, and cleaning supplies outside of your home and away from kids.
Tips for using candles:
- Keep them out of reach of kids and pets.
- Keep away from curtains and furniture.
- Extinguish them before you go to bed.
- Make sure candles are in sturdy holders made of non-flammable material that won’t tip over.
- Don’t let older kids and teens use candles unsupervised in their rooms.
8: Smoke Alarms
Having smoke alarms may be the most important thing you can do to keep your family safe.
Tips for using smoke alarms:
- Install them on every level of your home and in each bedroom.
- If possible, choose alarms with a 10-year lithium battery.
- If your smoke alarm uses regular batteries, remember to replace them every year (hint: change your batteries when you change your clock back from Daylight Saving Time in the fall).
- Test your smoke alarms monthly, and be sure your kids are familiar with the sound of the alarm.
- Because smoke rises, smoke detectors should always be placed on ceilings or high on walls.
- If a smoke detector near the kitchen goes off while you’re cooking, don’t take the battery out of it — you may forget to replace it. Open the doors and windows instead.
- If you’re having a new home built or remodeling an older home, you may want to consider adding a home sprinkler system. These are already found in many apartment buildings and dorms.