The U.S. Fire Administration reports that more than half of all house fires are cooking-related. Issues related to heating equipment, carelessness and electrical problem round out the list. Incorporate the following fire safety tips for to reduce the possibility of fire tied to these four broad categories.
- Cooking. Keep flammable materials like potholders, towels, paper or plastic bags and utensils away from the stovetop. Avoid wearing loose clothing, especially sleeves, that might catch fire while preparing food. Stay in the kitchen to monitor cooking progress. Position the barbecue grill at least three feet away from the house. Never use the oven to heat your home. Keep children away from the stove. Peak days for home cooking fires are Thanksgiving Day, the day before Thanksgiving, and Christmas. Be cautious! Place a fire extinguisher in the kitchen near the stove.
- Heating. Service your furnace before cold temperatures arrive. Get rid of oily rags, newspapers, and trash that may accelerate a fire. Store flammable liquids in approved containers away from the furnace or other heat source. Place a wood or coal burning stove, kerosene heater, space heater, electric heater at least three feet away from flammable materials like curtains, home decor, papers, etc. Units should be cleaned and checked for safety each year and burn only manufacturer fuel. Place a screen in front of the fireplace to keep sparks inside the firebox. Place cooled ashes from a fireplace or woodstove in a designated metal container. Turn off the space heater when you leave the room or go to sleep.
- Carelessness. Keep matches and lighters in a locked cabinet, out of the reach of children. Be sure cigarettes are properly extinguished and cooled before discarding ashes. Never smoke in bed. Remove lint from the clothes dryer filter before each use. Extinguish candle flames when leaving the room.
- Electrical Issues. Never use outlets or plug-ins that are hot to the touch. Replace cracked, frayed, or damaged wires as needed. Do not overload extension cords or run them under rugs. Plug appliances directly into wall outlets. Have an electrician evaluate the breaker box and wiring if your home is over twenty years old. Consider upgrading circuitry to accommodate current electrical needs.