Accidental house fires remain a serious threat to the safety of owners, tenants, and their families. Each year, approximately 3,400 people are killed in home fires or burns, making it the third leading cause of accidental death in the home. Eight in ten fire-related deaths occur at home, the place that embodies comfort and safety.

“Unfortunately, people often think that an accident is inevitable,” says Meri-K Appy, president of the Home Safety Council. “But we know that almost all accidents are preventable.” In an interview with US News, Appy described the most common ways home fires ignite and provided a list of simple steps homeowners can take to prevent them.

Warning: In addition to the steps listed below, all households should have at least one smoke detector on each floor and preferably in each bedroom. New smoke alarms should be installed every 10 years and if you don’t know the age of your smoke alarm you should buy a new one. Families should also plan and practice a home fire drill at least twice a year so everyone in the house knows how to get out quickly in the event of a fire. If you don’t already have one, the Home Safety Council has resources to create such a plan available. here.

Fire threat 1: cook

Fire safety begins in the kitchen. Cooking, especially stovetop cooking, is the leading cause of household fires. Many of these fires happen after residents put something on the stove, but get distracted and forget about it. “They lose track of it, and then before they know it the fire is very big,” says Appy.

Solution: stay close to your pot Because the kitchen causes many home fires, it is essential that you give your full attention to everything on your stove. “I sometimes make a joke on Tammy Wynette’s song [“Stand by Your Man”]: ‘Stand by Your Pan’, “said Appy.” If you have to go [the kitchen], to put out the fire [the burner] before you answer the phone or leave the room. “

Fire threat 2: Heating

The second leading cause of home fires is heating, although during the winter months it becomes the main concern. Portable electric heaters cause a lot of trouble as sheets or window curtains accidentally come in contact with the unit and ignite.

Solution: give space to radiators People using space heaters must ensure that they are far enough away from other objects to avoid any danger. “A heater needs 3 feet of free space all around it in all directions, keeping it away from drapes, furniture, bedspreads, people and pets,” says Appy. Additionally, homeowners should have their central heating equipment professionally inspected and serviced each heating season. And if you regularly have logs burning in your fireplace, have your chimney inspected and cleaned every year as well.

Fire threat 3: smoking

In addition to its health hazards, smoking is the third leading cause of household fires and the leading cause of death from household fires. Such fires can occur when smokers lose track of their still smoking cigarette butts, which then come in contact with flammable surfaces such as sofa cushions.

Solution: take it outside If you have a smoker in your home, the best way to prevent cigarette-related home fires is to have an indoor no-smoking policy. “Do it outdoors, as it will usually keep people away from dangerous places like upholstered furniture. Most people don’t have that many combustible objects outside,” says Appy. In addition, cigarettes should be doused with water before being thrown to ensure that they are completely extinguished.

Fire threat 4: Electricity

Another major cause of home fires is faulty or deteriorating electrical cords. Frayed or cracked cords can spark on flammable surfaces and start a fire.

Solution: check the bead Check all of your electrical cords to make sure they are in good condition and replace any that are worn out. Plus, “make sure you don’t overload the circuits,” says Appy. “It should be take by take – you don’t want this octopus thing to happen.” “

Fire threat 5: Candles

As they have open flames and are found in many households, candles are also among the most common sources of household fires.

Solution: think about batteries Instead of using traditional open flame candles, consider switching to battery operated candles that look and function like real candles. If you are using traditional candles, make sure there is always an attentive adult in the room when a candle is burning. (The flame should be extinguished when the adult leaves the room.) “Get rid of the habit of lighting a candle in a room and letting it burn,” says Appy. “You invite disaster.” Finally, candles should not be lit in your bedroom.

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