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These tips help prevent house fires

Burns are one of the leading causes of accidental death and injury in the United States. Nearly three-quarters of these injuries occur at home and the risk of injury caused by fire increases during the winter months. Heating, fireplaces, candles, generators and cooking all contribute to the increased risk at this time of year.  

To keep your home and your family safer, here are 10 ways to prevent a fire at home:
  1. Keep anything flammable, including curtains, furniture, bedding and paper, away from fireplaces, candles, stoves and heaters.
  2. Don't leave candles burning when no one is watching. For added safety, use battery-operated flameless candles to create the same look without the danger.
  3. Make sure portable heaters have safety guards and automatic shut-offs in case they are knocked over.
  4. Get rid of electrical cords that are frayed or cracked. Don't overload electrical outlets.
  5. Check the wattage of lightbulbs. Don't use a higher wattage than recommended by the light fixture.
  6. Do not smoke in bed or on the couch. Better yet, don't smoke inside the house at all. Dampen butts and ashes before throwing them away.
  7. Make sure matches and lighters are kept out of reach of children.
  8. Have your heating system inspected. Yearly maintenance makes it more likely that safety concerns are identified before they become a problem.
  9. Clean chimneys. If you use your wood-burning fireplace regularly, have your chimney inspected and cleaned each year.
  10. Never leave cooking unattended in the kitchen.

To protect your family in case of fire:

  • Working smoke detectors cut your chances of dying in a house fire in half. Install smoke detectors on every floor and in each bedroom. Replace batteries at least once a year and test alarms monthly. 
  • Plan your escape route. Each family member should know two ways to get out of every room in the house. Set up a meeting point outside. Practice your escape plan at least twice a year.
  • Tell kids their first priority is to get out of the house – and stay out. Stress the importance of not spending time to find pets or gather favorite belongings.
  • Check door handles. If the handles are hot, don't open the door.
  • Practice stop, drop and roll. If your clothes catch on fire, this can help put out the flames.
  • Leave the house first before calling for help. Once outside, call 911.

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Date Last Reviewed: December 4, 2018
Editorial Review: Andrea Cohen, Editorial Director, Baldwin Publishing, Inc. Contact Editor
Medical Review: Perry Pitkow, MD
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