What are the Best Tips for Home Fire Safety?

Amanda Barnhart
Amanda Barnhart
Space heaters can cause fires if not used properly.
Space heaters can cause fires if not used properly.

The best home fire safety tips focus on preventing fires and making sure each family member knows what to do in case of an emergency. Scanning the home for potential fire hazards and making a fire prevention plan helps reduce the risk of accidents. Some fires are unavoidable, so knowing what to do in the event of a home fire can minimize the risk of injury and damage.

Being careful with cigarettes can help prevent some fires.
Being careful with cigarettes can help prevent some fires.

Working smoke detectors are extremely important to home fire safety. There should be at least one smoke detector mounted on or just below the ceiling on every floor. Replacing the batteries at least once a year and testing smoke detectors once a month helps ensure the unit is in working order and will sound an alarm in case of fire.

Keeping objects and furniture at least 3 feet (about 1 m) away from heat vents, wood stoves, and portable heaters will minimize the risk of a home fire. Soft material can ignite quickly and pose a fire hazard. Space heaters should be placed on the floor with their cords unobstructed by furniture or carpets. Unplugging or turning off supplemental heaters in other rooms while sleeping reduces the risk of something igniting during the night.

Keep furniture a safe distance from wood burning stoves.
Keep furniture a safe distance from wood burning stoves.

Storing pot holders, towels, and combustible fluids away from stoves, particularly gas stoves, increases home fire safety in the event of a stove fire. Loose clothing can ignite while cooking, so it is important to roll long sleeves up or secure them with elastic bands while cooking. Keep candy, cookies, and other items that attract children away from stoves.

Lighters should be stored in high, secure places away from heat sources.
Lighters should be stored in high, secure places away from heat sources.

Unplugging appliances that are not in use reduces the risk of electrical fires. Do not use higher watt bulbs than what the manufacturer recommends in lamps and wall fixtures. Do not use outlets that spark and stop using any appliances that begin smoking or emit a strange odor. Flickering lights could indicate a wiring issue, and an electrician should be called to inspect the home.

Fire extinguishers should be kept throughout a home near all potential fire sources.
Fire extinguishers should be kept throughout a home near all potential fire sources.

Unattended open flames can also lead to home fires. Do not burn candles or incense in rooms where no one is present. Keep ashtrays in a safe place and empty them frequently to reduce the risk of a fire caused by lit cigarettes. Never smoke in bed to reduce the risk of igniting blankets and mattresses. Store lighters and matches in high, secure cabinets away from heat sources if there are children in the home.

Keeping both the inside and outside of the home free of clutter and debris helps prevent fires.
Keeping both the inside and outside of the home free of clutter and debris helps prevent fires.

Having an escape plan in case of a fire is a vital component of a home fire safety plan. Make sure each family member knows several ways to exit the home and establish a meeting place far away from the house where everyone can meet if they need to evacuate the home. Teach children to exit the home by crawling on the floor to avoid smoke inhalation if possible. Instruct family members to press a hand against closed doors and other obstructions on their way out of the house to check for heat, which could mean there are active flames behind the door.

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Discussion Comments

Animandel

I know it is a simple task to complete, but for some reason I don't check my smoke detectors as often as I should. Actually, the only time I think of them is when they start to malfunction and beep when the batteries are getting weak. A friend recently told me that I should check the smoke detector batteries when the time changes in the spring and in the fall. This is a good way to remember.

Drentel

With so many fires starting in the winter time when people are trying to heat their houses, I think this is an area where most people should be more aware of home fire safety. Not as many people heat primarily with wood fireplaces anymore, but those who do should be extra careful.

With wood burning fireplaces be sure to get a professional chimney sweep to clean the chimneys every couple of years or so. Also, buy a screen to place in front of the fireplace. You might be surprised how easily a fire can start when am ember or piece of coal comes out of the fireplace and lands on a rug or piece of fabric.

Feryll

Of all the home fire safety tips mentioned in this article, the one that hits home wit me is the one that says that pot holders should be stored away from the stove, especially if the stove is a gas stove. One of the reasons I have refused to rent an apartment with a gas stove is that I am afraid they will start a fire. I guess it's the open flame that makes me wary of gas stoves.

I know plenty of people who refuse to cook on any type of stove but a gas one because they say these stoves cook better than any other type. But even so, I have no desire to own a gas stove. I have a gas hot water heater in my new house, and I want to get that replaced with an electric one as soon as possible.

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    • Space heaters can cause fires if not used properly.
      By: Denis Gladkiy
      Space heaters can cause fires if not used properly.
    • Being careful with cigarettes can help prevent some fires.
      By: Николай Григорьев
      Being careful with cigarettes can help prevent some fires.
    • Keep furniture a safe distance from wood burning stoves.
      By: Paul Maguire
      Keep furniture a safe distance from wood burning stoves.
    • Lighters should be stored in high, secure places away from heat sources.
      By: Hugh O'Neill
      Lighters should be stored in high, secure places away from heat sources.
    • Fire extinguishers should be kept throughout a home near all potential fire sources.
      By: isonphoto
      Fire extinguishers should be kept throughout a home near all potential fire sources.
    • Keeping both the inside and outside of the home free of clutter and debris helps prevent fires.
      By: checker
      Keeping both the inside and outside of the home free of clutter and debris helps prevent fires.
    • To prevent fires, candles should never be left unattended.
      By: RTimages
      To prevent fires, candles should never be left unattended.
    • In case of a fire, each resident should be familiar with several ways to exit the home.
      By: bmak
      In case of a fire, each resident should be familiar with several ways to exit the home.
    • Smoke detectors are important for ensuring home fire safety.
      By: shadowchaser
      Smoke detectors are important for ensuring home fire safety.