how to prevent house fires

You may be able to recite, "Stop, drop, and roll," but how much do you know about preventing fires in your home? Check out our fire prevention and safety tips for you and your family.

reduce your risk

House fires are the most common disaster in the country, resulting in more than 2,500 deaths and 12,600 injuries each year. The good news is, most house fires are easily preventable. Here are some simple fixes to your everyday routine that can significantly reduce your risk of having a house fire.

Kitchen safety

  • More than 60 percent of cooking fires begin on the stove, so never leave your range unattended and always pay attention to what you're cooking
  • Clean all kitchen surfaces regularly to avoid dangerous grease buildup
  • It's helpful to keep a fire extinguisher in your kitchen, just in case of emergency. Be sure to read the instructions or contact your local fire department for info on using it properly.

Thwart electrical threats

  • Don't place wires and cords under rugs or over nails (or anywhere someone could trip) and don't overload electrical outlets or extension cords
  • If an appliance sparks or has an unusual smell (like a microwave that begins smoking, for instance), immediately turn it off, unplug it, and dispose of it or have it repaired by a professional
  • Give your space heater, well, space. Make sure it's in a place where it can't tip over and keep flammable objects (like clothes and blankets) at least 3 feet away.

Avoid obvious fire hazards

  • Smoking is the leading cause of home fire deaths. One of the biggest fire risks smokers face is a still-lit cigarette butt, which can make contact with flammable objects in your home. Avoid smoking indoors and always use an ashtray.
  • If you have a fire roaring in your fireplace, always leave glass doors open or use a metal mesh screen to keep embers from escaping
  • It's also important to protect your home's exterior, namely by keeping firewood at least 30 feet from your house (not just on your porch or by your backdoor) and making sure your roof is always clear of pine needles, leaves, and other possible forms of kindling
  • Never burn anything other than firewood in your fireplace, including household trash or cardboard, which emit toxic chemicals when burned

make a fire plan

The only thing as important as preventing a fire is learning how to escape one. But according to the Red Cross, 74 percent of families don't have a fire escape plan. It's about time to change that. Here are a few things to have figured out before disaster strikes:

  • You should have several escape routes — be they by fire escape, a window onto a neighboring roof, or your front door — and at least 2 ways of getting out of every room in your house
  • Make sure to revamp any exit that doesn't help you make a clean getaway, like windows and doors that stick or screens that don't come out easily
  • Smoke can quickly compromise your senses during a fire. Practice getting out of your house in the dark or with your eyes closed.
  • If you have young children, teach them to crawl under smoke, to feel if doors are hot before opening them (and if they are, to use another exit), and not to hide from firefighters

more fire safety tips

These tips are straightforward, crucial, and provide a major fire-free payoff in the end:

  • Install smoke alarms on every floor (even your basement), especially inside and outside of sleeping areas. Test the batteries monthly, change them yearly, and follow the manufacturer's instructions carefully.
  • If your clothes catch on fire, you want to know how to safely put out the flames. According to the National Fire Protection Association's "Stop, drop, and roll" technique, here are the steps to follow:
  1. Stop right where you are and drop to your knees
  2. Cover your nose and mouth with your hands
  3. Roll over and over until you're no longer on fire

Smoke alarms, fire extinguishers, in-home sprinklers, and other fireproofing tools can help protect your house and your family. But for the best in protection for your belongings, make sure you have homeowners insurance. When you're a part of the Esurance family, you can count on our agents 24/7 to help you along the way.

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