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LOOK for places fire could start. Take a good look around your home. Identify potential fire hazards and address them. If necessary, have a qualified professional correct hazards.

 

Cooking is the leading cause of U.S. home fires, causing nearly half (47%) of all home fires each year, on average. Leaving cooking unattended is the leading cause of home cooking fires.

Here are some simple ways to minimize the risk of having a home cooking fire:

  • Remove clutter from the cooking area, keeping anything that can burn (i.e., towels, oven mitts, wooden utensils, food packaging, loose papers/mail) away from the stovetop.
  • Keep a close eye on what you’re cooking. Stay in the kitchen while you are frying, grilling, boiling or broiling food. If you are simmering, baking or roasting food, check it regularly. If you need to leave the kitchen, use a timer to remind you that you’re cooking.
  • Be alert! Avoid cooking if you are sleepy or have consumed alcohol or other substances.

Heating is the second-leading cause of U.S. home fires, accounting for 15% of all reported home fires, on average each year. Failure to clean heating equipment is the leading cause of home heating fires.

To safely heat your home during the colder months, follow these tips and recommendations:

  • Have heating equipment and chimneys cleaned and inspected each year by a qualified professional.
  • Keep anything that can burn at least three feet away from heating equipment, including furnaces, fireplaces, wood stoves and portable space heaters.
  • Turn space heaters off when you leave the room or go to sleep.

Electrical distribution or lighting equipment was involved in the ignition of 34,000 U.S. home fires, on average each year. These fires involved equipment such as wiring, lighting, cords and plugs.

Follow these guidelines for safety using electrical equipment and appliances in your home:

  • Have all electrical work done by a qualified electrician.
  • Only use one heat-producing appliance (such as a coffee maker, toaster, space heater, etc.) plugged into a receptacle outlet at a time.
  • Major appliances (refrigerators, dryers, washers, stoves, air conditioners, microwave ovens, etc.) should be plugged directly into a wall receptacle outlet. Extension cords and plug strips should not be used.
  • Extension cords are intended for temporary use. If needed, have a qualified electrician add more receptacle outlets so you don’t have to use them.
  • Check electrical cords to make sure they are not running across doorways or under carpets.

Candle fires are reported to U.S. fire departments an average of 24 times a day. More than half of all candle fires start when things that can burn are too close to the candle.

Use these tips and recommendations for using candles safely:

  • Blow out all candles when you leave the room or go to bed. Avoid using candles in the bedroom and other areas where people may fall asleep.
  • Keep candles at least one foot away from anything that can burn.
  • Use candle holders that are sturdy and won’t tip over easily; put candle holders on a sturdy, uncluttered surface.
  • Don’t burn a candle all the way down — put it out before it gets too close to the holder or container.
  • Consider using battery-operated candles, which are widely available in stores, and look and smell like real candles.

Smoking materials, including cigarettes, pipes and cigars, are major causes of U.S. home fires. In addition, fires have occurred while e-cigarettes were being used, the battery was charging, or the device was being transported; battery failures have led to small explosions.

Reduce the risk of smoking-related fires by following these recommendations:

  • If you smoke, use only fire-safe cigarettes and smoke them outside. (Most smoking-related deaths result from fires that started in living rooms, family rooms, dens and bedrooms.)
  • Keep cigarettes, lighters, matches, and other smoking materials in a locked cabinet that’s up high out of sight and reach of children.
  • Use a deep, sturdy ashtray and place it away from anything that can burn.
  • Before you throw away butts and ashes, make sure they are out by dousing them in water or sand. Do not discard cigarettes in vegetation such as mulch, potted plants or landscaping, peat moss, dried grasses, leaves or other things that could ignite easily.
  • Use e-cigarettes with caution; never leave charging e-cigarettes unattended.