Keep Your Home Safe from Fire

Every year thousands of people die or are injured in home fires. In many cases the tragedy didn't have to happen, if only they had taken the time to do some planning and practiced home fire safety. Here's some 'easy to do' ways you can help keep your home and family safe from fire.

Most home fires start in the kitchen

  • Keep stove tops and the area around your stove uncluttered. Pay particular attention to ensuring flammable paper products (paper towels, paper napkins) aren't stored near a flame where they can start on fire.
  • Ensure an adult is always in the kitchen when anyone is cooking and never leave a pot cooking on the stove unattended at any time.
  • Maintain a 'kid-free' zone of about three feet around the stove and keep pot handles turned inward so inquisitive little hands (and much worse- entire bodies) can't get burned by pulling a hot pot off the stove

Heating safety

  • Have your furnace professionally maintained, and if you use a fireplace, be sure the chimney is cleaned at least annually. A chimney fire can start in built up creosote inside the chimney.
  • Be sure your fireplace has doors or a solid spark screen to keep embers in the fireplace.
  • Make sure any space heaters you use have cords in good repair and keep them at least three feet away from furniture and curtains.

Electrical safety

  • Only use UL rated extension cords in your home (avoid the ones from the 'dollar stores') and always check them for fraying in the insulation before plugging them in.
  • Never run an extension cord under a carpet, or in an area where people will walk on it. The insulation could wear through,exposing the wires and causing a short circuit that could cause a fire.
  • Don't over load electric circuits. People will often plug multiple appliances into a single outlets which when they're all turned on, can cause the overloaded circuit to heat up and start a fire behind the walls.

Install the proper warning devices

  • Smoke alarms will save lives by providing an early warning about fire. In many jurisdictions it's mandatory to have working smoke detectors in your home, but even if it isn't in your area, it just make sense to install them.
  • Test your smoke detectors on a regular basis. Smoke detectors usually have a 'test button' so it's easy to check if they're working. Many people replace the batteries in their smoke detectors every six months (when the time changes from Standard to Daylight savings) but it's easy to check a smoke detector any time. - simply push the button or the center of the unit.

Know how to get out of your house

  • Build a home fire escape plan that includes two ways out of every room (if it's possible). Your plan should also include a location outside well away from your home, where every can gather safely.'
  • Don't just create your escape plan, practice it by having a home fire drill and include everyone in your home.

By practicing fire safety every day, you should never have to worry about a home fire, but if the worst happens it's good to know that with your proven escape plan, you'll all be able to get out safely.

Murray Anderson is an experienced freelance writer with over 800 articles published on the web as well as in print magazines and newspapers in both the United States and Canada. He writes on a wide range of topics and is a regular contributor to He can be contacted at [email protected].