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How to Prevent a Fire at Home

The very concept of a house fire is scary, and there’s no disputing the fact that devastating house fires do occur. To help prevent this tragedy in your family home, here are some tips.

Outlets  In this day and age of electronics, outlets are often used to the utmost. Don’t overload an outlet; if you need to plug in multiple plugs, use a surge-protected power strip, not extension cords. Make sure all cords are in good repair, with no fraying or tears. Remove and replace any cords that are hot.

Candles  The romantic glow of a candle adds ambience to a home, but make sure they are not fire hazards. Keep them well away from curtains and furniture, and out of the reach of children and pets. (Cats are especially prone to igniting their fur as they tend to jump on tabletops and into bay windows.) Never light candles and leave the room; you might forget about them and go to bed without snuffing them out.

Space Heaters  Tragically, space heaters account for a fair number of house fires during the winter months. Make sure that the space heater is well away from the wall, and do not put shoes or clothing on top of or too close to the space heater. Turning off the space heater when it’s not in use is not necessarily safe enough; unplug it instead, so that it does not get turned on accidentally.

Fire Extinguisher  Experts recommend a fire extinguisher in the home, particularly in the kitchen where many house fires start. Learn how to use it by reading the directions before there’s an emergency.

Clean Your Dryer  Your clothes dryer’s lint screen should be cleaned after every load of laundry. Every few months, the screen should be removed and cleaned and scrubbed thoroughly with soap and water. Long, flexible brushes and vacuum attachments can be purchased and used to clean the vent insert.

Stovetops  Never put anything on a stovetop that isn’t cookware. This is especially tempting with ceramic-top stoves; their flat surface makes them seem like just more counter space. Mail, boxes, hot pads, and so forth should not be placed on the stove, even if it’s not on.

Furnace Filters  Change your furnace filters regularly. Professionals recommend at least every 3 months or 90 days. During heavy use or if you have a lot of dust and airborne particles in your home, changing the filter every 30 to 60 days is recommended.