10 Tips to Help Prevent a House Fire

The Christmas season is underway and many homes are already decorated with live trees. Christmas trees are usually the focal point for every decorated home, but they also quickly burn if there is ever a fire. Some causes of these fires are the electrical distribution or lighting equipment as well as some type of heat source (such as a candle) being too close to the tree. One of the most common causes of real tree fires is a dried-out one. Check water levels daily and keep them hydrated.

Stay safe all year round – there are many fire safety tips you can use to protect your family and home and avoid a tragedy, here are 10 to get you started.


Smoke detectors are your first line of defense against fire because of their early warning capability. These days, they’re hardwired into homes to monitor smoke and carbon monoxide and have the ability to send alerts to your phone.

If you’re using a battery-operated one, do a routine check every six months to be certain it is still working. All it takes is pressing a button on your alarm. A weak beep means it’s time to change its batteries as soon as you can.


The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) says heating equipment is the top cause of fire in American homes. Any faulty heating sources like space heaters, central heating systems, and fireplaces could trigger fire when ignored or left unchecked. Have a professional check-up once a year to be sure they are working safely and optimally.

In the meantime, do some prevention maintenance like cleaning the air filters regularly. If you are using a space heater, position it away from flammable objects. These little details are critical if you consider how debris and dust can be fire hazards when they get too close to a heat source.

3. Keep your oven/stove clean

Make sure to clean your stove and oven after every use. In particular, cooktops and gas stoves should be wiped after cooking. Modern ovens have a self-cleaning function that you should take advantage of every few months.


More than half of kitchen fires are caused by cooking disruptions. Remember that all it takes is a few seconds before things in the kitchen begin to catch fire.

Avoiding minor to major interruptions while cooking is a top priority to ensure the safety of your home. Some things you should remember:

  • Stay in the kitchen while cooking — if you must leave the house for any reason, turn the stove or oven off until you return.
  • For food that takes a long time to prepare, check back frequently. This will help prevent potential causes of fires, for example, if the liquid has boiled away and food is cooking dry.
  • Keep items that can easily catch fire — oven mitts, paper towels, cloth towels, food packaging, wooden utensils — away from the cooking source.
  • Be especially careful with oils and grease. These combustibles can’t be extinguished with water. Either smother the flames or use a kitchen-rated fire extinguisher.


Dryer fires occur in 2,900 homes in the United States each year due to clogged vents or a filter buildup that can cause a fire. However, this situation is highly preventable if you follow best practices.

Get your dryer inspected annually or every few months – there is no substitute for this. Next, always check if your lint trap is clean before putting in a new load of laundry.

Lint or small clothing items like socks can also get stuck at the back of the machine. So make sure to look for those and remove them prior to operating your dryer.

6. BE CAREFUL WITH CORDS, appliances & Outlets

Make sure that you don’t have too many appliances plugged into an outlet, which can cause it to overload. If this is the case, you should immediately lessen the load and keep things manageable for each of your outlets. Unplug countertop appliances like toasters or air fryers when you’re not using them.

Another instance to avoid is ignoring frayed or chewed cords. One spark from the exposed wires is all it takes for a fire to start. It’s a necessity to replace damaged wires as soon as you notice them, to avoid the risk of fire.

Check your cord placement. Cords tend to get hot so you want to avoid running them under a rug or between your wall and furniture.

Often, homeowners can see signs of potential electrical problems long before a fire actually occurs. Here’s what you should watch out for:

  • Lights dimming or flickering
  • Wall plates sooty or turning brown
  • Hissing sounds in the wall or in fixtures when they turn on
  • Switches or outlets feel hot while operating


Common hair products, cosmetics, and household cleaners can all be classified as flammable products. They all tend to combust when placed too close to a large heat source.

To err on the side of caution and avoid fire and smoke damage, you should always check the label of items you purchase, to know which products are prone to catch fire when exposed to heat sources like space heaters. Then, ensure you keep your flammable products in a cool, dry place.


Scented candles are commonly used in households, especially around the holidays. But if you don’t use them carefully, they could cause fire and smoke damage. Handling them with total awareness of their potential fire risk is key. Here are some rules to remember:

  • Always put the candles out if you’re leaving a room.
  • Blow them out before you fall asleep.
  • Place them in a spot that is far away from objects that can easily catch fire like curtains and blankets.
  • Never position them on an uneven surface such as a  carpet to prevent them from tipping over.
  • Keep lit candles away from your pet.


Your fireplace can be a source of fire if not maintained correctly. For safe usage, fireplaces must be maintained properly – they should be inspected and repaired at least once annually (even if you only burn a fire in the fireplace one time per year, cracks in the chimney, or the presence of bird nests can cause fires). Household fires start when chimneys fall into disrepair or when fires are burned unattended. When you have a fire going, it is also advised to stay in the room. Dispose of the ashes properly, giving them more than enough time to cool down. To be sure, put them in a metal container specifically designed for the disposal of ashes.


Fire extinguishers can save lives, making them a worthwhile investment. Having them at home can bolster your feelings of safety. At the same time, they are also genuinely useful in case a fire breaks out. Put them in the high-risk areas of the house, such as the kitchen and laundry room. Also, check if your units are not yet expired. They usually last an average of 5 to 15 years.

A quick inspection of the pressure gauge is also needed. Just check if the needle falls in the fire extinguisher’s green area, and you’re good to go.

The Bottom Line: House fires can be deadly if you’re not prepared. Fortunately, there are many things above and beyond the 10 tips listed here that you can do to protect yourself and your loved ones from fires. Be sure to have a plan in place to evacuate your home in the event of a house fire. Know where all of your fire extinguishers are located, and teach everyone in the home how to use them and where they are located.

Practice fire safety and response to fires with the children in your home. If you have pets, live with very young children, or live with someone elderly, work with people in your home to ensure safe evacuation.

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Most House Fires Are Preventable

There have been many home fires on the news lately where entire families are hurt or killed. The tragedy is most fires are preventable. Actually, 95% of home fires are preventable and almost always caused by user error.

One of the first steps to fire prevention is ensuring that you have the correct number of smoke alarms in your home. You should have a smoke alarm on every level of your home and in every living space, basement included. Your smoke alarms should then be checked monthly and batteries replaced two times a year. Additionally, fire extinguishers should be located on every floor of the home, in a place that is readily accessible in the event of a fire.

A home fire escape plan is essential because when a fire breaks out, every second counts. A fire can turn life-threatening in 30 seconds. And the majority of fires break out late at night or early in the morning when everyone is asleep, so your family needs to know what to do before an emergency happens. Create multiple escape plans and practice them. Your plans should include escape routes from different areas of the house, tools for exiting the building (escape ladders, items to open, break out windows), and a designated meeting place. It’s very important to practice fire safety with your kids, so be sure to familiarize your children with the sounds of the alarms.

Faulty electrical outlets and outdated appliances cause most electrical fires. If your electrical outlets are old, have them replaced by a master electrician. Tips to help identify issues:

  1. Warmth or Heat. Use your hands to feel the outlet. If you detect any warmth or notice signs of scorching or melting on the plastic, replace it immediately.
  2. Smoke. Smoke from any electrical outlet is an indicator it’s a significant fire danger.
  3. Loose Connections. If any outlets are loose in the wall or they no longer hold a plug tightly (the plug falls out when plugged in), replace the outlet.
  4. Sounds. If you hear buzzing or popping sounds coming from an electrical outlet, turn off the power to that part of your home and immediately call a licensed electrician.
  5. Frayed Wires. Take off your electrical outlets’ plastic covers and examine the wiring. Wires can crack or fray from age, heat, or bending. Nails or screws can also pinch them. If you see any damage to the outlet’s wires, call an electrician.

Gas appliances should be maintained. Check your water heater, gas stove, furnace and dryer once a year to make sure all the appliances’ connections to gas lines are in working order, and that the gas lines themselves are in good condition. Many homes use natural gas for cooking, heating water, and powering the furnace. A leak in the natural gas lines or fittings could result in an explosion. Natural gas has no odor of its own, so they add an odorant that smells of rotten eggs for safety.

If you smell natural gas, get your family out of your home immediately and call 911. Never call for help while still inside the home. The sparks generated from the phone could cause an explosion.

2,900 home clothes dryer fires are reported each year and cause an estimated 5 deaths, 100 injuries, and $35 million in property loss. Dryer lint that accumulates in your dryer’s removable filter is flammable. If the lint isn’t removed on a regular basis, it can cause a fire. Also, check for and remove lint buildup around the dryer’s exhaust hose at least once a year.

Cooking fires are a huge cause of home fires as well as home fire injuries. The majority of cooking equipment fires start with the ignition of common household items (i.e., wall coverings, paper or plastic bags, curtains, etc.).

  1. Stay in the kitchen while you’re frying, grilling, boiling, or broiling food. If you have to leave the room—even for just a moment—turn off the stove.
  2. Keep anything that can catch fire, such as food packaging, oven mitts and towels, away from your stovetop.
  3. Make sure you have the correct type of extinguisher and know how to properly use it.
  4. Crumbs in a toaster, built-up grease on the stovetop, and excess dust behind your appliances are fire hazards.
  5. Let grease cool before disposing of it in the garbage. Never pour grease or oil down the drain

Each year, candle fires account for hundreds of thousands of dollars in property damage and hundreds of unnecessary injuries and deaths.

  1. Never leave candles unattended.
  2. Don’t use candles in the bedroom, or anywhere else where you may fall asleep.
  3. Don’t use candles when there are small children or pets around.
  4. Keep candle wicks trimmed to about a quarter of an inch.
  5. Use sturdy candle holders that won’t tip over, and don’t let the candle burn right to the end.
  6. Be very careful if carrying a burning candle. Hold it away from your clothes or anything else flammable.
  7. Make sure the candle is not too close to a window, where curtains can blow near the flame.
  8. Use battery operated tea lights. They look just as good, but aren’t dangerous.

Fires are fast! Protect your house and your family from a fire at all costs. Implementing these fire safety practices around the house is just a start, but protecting your home doesn’t stop here.  Learn how to avoid fires and conduct preventive maintenance the proper way. The first and most important thing you can do is make sure everyone in the household is educated on fire safety measures, including children.

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