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The average person can expect to have five household fires during a lifetime. These fires may be small, causing little or no damage; however, there is a one in four chance that a fire large enough to require fire department response will occur at some point in your lifetime. Fires can be started anywhere in a home, but the fact is, a majority of house fires are completely preventable. Once there is an understanding of what causes fires and how to prevent them, you will be able to make the necessary corrections to make your home safer. Using a checklist to do a room-by-room inspection can decrease the chance of a fire starting in your home.

Throughout the Whole Home

  • Install smoke detectors near sleeping areas on every level of the home.
  • Keep all lighters and matches locked up or out of reach of children.
  • Use the correct wattage light bulbs required by each fixture.
  • Replace all frayed, cracked, or broken electrical cords.
  • Don’t overload electrical outlets.
  • Have two escape routes for every room (example: a door and at least one window).
  • Dispose of cigarettes or cigars in ashtrays, not in a trash can.

  • Keep cleaning products away from heat sources.
  • Do not plug in more than one extension cord per outlet.
  • Do not use electrical appliances or tools near water.
  • If using a portable heater, keep at least 3 feet away from curtains, furniture, bedding, etc.
  • Blow out candles when leaving a room or going to sleep.


  • Clean any grease off the stovetop and oven.
  • Remove dish towels, potholders, or other flammable materials away from the stovetop.
  • Keep appliances and their cords away from the sink.
  • Hang paper towel rack and towels away from toaster, toaster oven, etc.
  • Turn pot handles away from other burners in use.

  • Use only microwave-safe dishes in the microwave.
  • Wear tight-fitting sleeves or roll up sleeves when cooking.
  • Unplug appliances when they aren’t in use.
  • Stay in the kitchen when cooking.

Living Room

  • Clean fireplaces before each cold weather season.
  • Burn only dry, seasoned wood in the fireplace.
  • Keep flammable materials away from the fireplace.
  • Avoid running cords and wires under rugs to prevent overheating.
  • Keep the screen or glass door closed when fireplace is in use to prevent sparks from landing on nearby furniture.


  • Keep appliance cords away from sink, shower, or bathtub.
  • Keep hair dryers and hair styling tools away from items that may burn.
  • Unplug appliances after use.


  • Install smoke detectors inside bedroom or in the hallway near bedroom.
  • Never smoke in bed.
  • Do not use a heating pad in bed for more than 30 minutes, and unplug after use.
  • Unplug electric blanket when not in use.

Basement/Utility Room

  • Have your furnace checked before each cold weather season.
  • Change air conditioner and furnace filters regularly.
  • If a basement is used as a bedroom, make sure windows are large enough to use as an exit in an emergency.
  • Do not store trash near a furnace.
  • Clean lint from dryer before each use.
  • Have a designated outlet for the dryer.
  • Have a dryer vent that leads to the outside, and keep vent clear.
  • Use caution when drying synthetic fabrics, rubber, or plastic.
  • Check electrical panel for proper wiring.


  • Use proper gauge extension cord with any power tool.
  • Store gasoline in approved, tightly sealed containers.
  • Store any flammable substances away from heat sources.
  • Properly dispose of any rags used to wipe up oil or other flammable liquids.
  • Store unused charcoal in a metal container with a lid.
  • Use cordless tools when working near water.
  • Keep paints and chemicals in their original, labeled containers with lids.

Sources: A Few Facts at the Household Level
Photo Credits: Pixabay, Sasha Staton

Joel Muniz Kodmxennaas Unsplash



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