Most in-home fires are caused by ordinary things like a stove burner, candle, space heater or extension cord. Mental lapses, poor judgment and carelessness make these things dangerous.
Thankfully, by exercising good safety habits and taking simple prevention steps, you can cut down on deadly and damaging fire risks.
First, always be sure your smoke alarms are working. Test them monthly and replace those that are more than 10 years old.
Cooktops. Never leave the kitchen while something is cooking on the stove. Keep combustibles, such as curtains and wall hangings, at least three feet from the stove.
Space heaters. Keep them at least three feet away from drapes and bedding, and plug them directly into outlets, not extension cords. Don’t use space heaters while sleeping.
Wood stoves and fireplaces. Empty ashes in a metal container and store them outside away from combustibles for at least a week before disposing of them in the trash. Be sure your chimney is inspected and cleaned annually. Keep any combustibles at least five feet away from the stove or fireplace.
Electrical equipment. Replace undersized or frayed extension cords. Never run an extension cord under a rug. Call an electrician if circuit breakers regularly trip or if your electrical box has a warm cover. Don’t use light bulbs that exceed a fixture’s recommended maximum wattage.
Appliances. Ensure combustion chamber covers are in place on water heaters. Clean all lint from a dryer’s back service panel and from the vent line. Replace vinyl vent lines with smooth, metal ducts.
Smoking. Don’t smoke in bed. Use large ashtrays on tables. Soak ashtrays under the faucet before throwing cigarette butts in the trash.
Candles. Use tip-proof containers. Burn candles only while you’re awake and in the same room. Keep candles at least three feet away from combustibles.
Matches and lighters. Store out of the reach of children.