Skip to main content

8 ways to keep your house safe from a fire

Image used with permission by copyright holder

Fire Prevention Week runs from October 3-9, 2021, so take this time to learn everything you can to protect your family from house fires. A fire can engulf a home in a matter of minutes, and many fires are preventable, so be sure to keep these home fire safety tips in mind and share them with friends and family.

Pay attention when cooking

When you’re preparing a meal, minimize distractions.

  • Kids: Have someone keep an eye on young kids if they’re in another room, or have them sit at the kitchen table with an activity that will keep them engaged while you cook.
  • Pets: Keep pets out of the kitchen if you can, and turn off your cellphone or leave it in another room.
  • Turn off the stove: If you must leave the kitchen for any reason, even if it’s just for a few seconds, turn off the stove. If there’s a chance that food in a pan could burn while you’re out of the kitchen, remove it from the burner.

Keep flammable objects away from the stove

Keep potholders, oven mitts, and dishtowels a safe distance from the stove when you’re not using them so they don’t catch fire. If you use a cookbook, set it on a table or counter where it will be out of harm’s way.

Have family members and guests smoke outdoors

Many house fires start when someone smokes inside and the embers come into contact with something flammable. This can also happen when a cigarette isn’t completely extinguished. Have people smoke outside – no exceptions – and provide an ashtray or a metal container for ashes and cigarette butts.

white candles

Keep an eye on candles

When you burn candles, make sure there are no flammable objects nearby. Never leave a burning candle unattended, either. A pet or child can knock it over, and the room can quickly become engulfed in flames. If you leave the room for any reason, blow out all candles first.

Keep matches and lighters out of kids’ hands

Children are curious and often don’t understand how dangerous common household items can be. Store matches and lighters on a high shelf or in a locked cabinet where your kids can’t reach them. When they’re old enough, explain the danger, but don’t expect a warning alone to be enough. Continue to keep matches and lighters out of reach.

Don’t use damaged electrical devices or plugs

A damaged electrical device is a fire hazard. If an appliance, laptop, or any other device in your house has a damaged cord or plug, don’t use it until it’s repaired. If it can’t be fixed, replace it. If an outlet is damaged, hire an electrician or a qualified general contractor to repair or replace it. Even if the outlet is in good condition, don’t overload outlets or connect extension cords to each other.

people relaxing in front of fireplace

Be careful with heaters

If you want to buy a space heater to keep your house warm in the winter, make sure it’s certified by Underwriters Laboratory (UL), then read and follow the instructions carefully. Like candles, keep the heater several feet away from any flammable objects, such as curtains and furniture. For other heat sources, inspect them regularly and engage in routine maintenance to reduce the risk of a fire. Hire an expert to inspect your furnace, wood stove, or fireplace regularly and make sure it’s cleaned and repaired as necessary.

Take care of your clothes dryer

House fires often start because of excess lint in a dryer or a dryer vent. While many people remember to remove lint after each load of laundry, that’s not always enough. Some lint and other particles can still make their way to the dryer vent where they can accumulate over time and eventually become a fire hazard. Have your dryer vent professionally cleaned at least once a year, more often if you have a large family and use it frequently.

Other ways to keep your family safe

  • Your home should have at least one smoke detector on each level and near each bedroom. If you have young kids, explain what a smoke detector does and let them hear the sound it makes so they’ll recognize it if a detector goes off because of a fire. Check each smoke detector every month and replace the batteries twice a year.
  • Keep at least one fire extinguisher in your house, plus one in the garage and any other area where there is a risk of a fire. Make sure that all adults and children who are old enough to handle a fire extinguisher know how to use one.
  • Create a plan so every family member knows what to do if there is a fire. Identify at least one way out of each room, and point out escape routes to your kids and explain how to get out if there is a fire. Choose a location for all family members to meet after evacuating the house. It should be far enough from your home that everyone will be out of danger, but close enough that everyone will be able to get there quickly. Practice with monthly fire drills.
  • Explain to your younger kids that a fire can spread quickly and that they should evacuate the house immediately and not try to take any possessions with them.
  • Since smoke rises, it’s best to stay close to the ground during a fire. Children may want to hide, but you should stress that hiding would make it harder for firefighters to rescue them. Add to your fire safety plan that children should stay close to their beds so firefighters can find them.

No one likes to think about house fires, but they’re an unfortunate reality. Simple precautions can prevent a tragedy. Discuss home fire safety with your family and follow these important steps to stay safe.

Editors' Recommendations

Jennifer Supernaw
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Jennifer Supernaw is a freelance writer who has produced home-related content for RISMedia, as well as blogs and articles for…
What colors go with gray? How to make a neutral hue pop in your home
Make gray walls work for your home decor with complementary colors
Modern living room with gray walls and yellow furniture

Neutral colors like gray and taupe are always popular options for your home's interior design. Both are versatile shades that can go with a plethora of other hues, which means you can easily change up the look of your decor with gray walls and a rotating rainbow of accessories like colorful throw pillows. With all the different shades of gray paint available, from matte to glossy, warm to cool, and brownish to blueish, it's certainly possible to find the one that's perfect for you and your home.

Of course, you can always have too much of a good thing. While gray can be a sophisticated and elegant shade, too much gray can wash out a room or make it feel dull and dingy or cold and unwelcoming. Think of gray as the neutral backdrop on a canvas that lets your color palette shine, and you can't go wrong. So, it’s important to incorporate other colors into the decor, whether it be with pieces of furniture, art, or throw blankets -- but what colors go with gray? If you're looking for the best options to brighten up your current decor, keep reading to find out how to accent this elegant tone.

Read more
10 amazing ways to hide a clunky printer in your home office
The best DIY solutions for hiding a large printer in your home office
Modern home office layout

Printers are a functional and sometimes essential part of any home office. But one thing’s for sure — they don’t exactly blend into the background. A clunky printer may ruin your vision of a simple Scandinavian home office or coastal-themed reading room. If you're unsure where to hide a printer in your home office so it's not an eyesore, try these tips. You don't necessarily need a hidden printer cabinet (though that works, too) — just a little ingenuity.
Invest in an armoire or secretary desk
Traditional desks are practical, but they’re not exactly discreet. An armoire desk keeps your desk supplies and miscellaneous gadgets out of view while saving you much-needed space. This white and natural oak-colored armoire has an overall measurement of 67.3 inches in height, 31.5 inches in width, and 20.3 inches in depth. More importantly, the interior cabinet measures 33.1 inches in height, 30.2 inches in width, and 19.7 inches in depth.

If you want a smaller desk, consider a secretary desk like this manufactured wood desk that you can place in any part of the home. It measures 30 inches in height, 31.49 inches in width, and 20.07 inches in depth, while the cabinet interior is 19.55 inches in height, 26.54 inches in width, and 18.98 inches in depth. Note that accurate printer measurements will help determine if it fits inside a specific desk cabinet you’re considering. 
Hide it in a rolling file cabinet
For even greater portability, a rolling file cabinet is an ideal choice. Think about it: You can move the cart with the printer in tow anywhere around the house. If you ever need to make extra space for parties or want to rearrange your workspace on a whim, you’ll find that a wheeled cabinet is a worthy investment. This modern rolling file cabinet comes with a cubby box measuring 15.5 inches long, 12.25 inches wide, and 9.9 inches high. The whole box measures 16.4 inches long, 14.25 inches wide, and 13.8 inches high.

Read more
25 stellar staircase ideas to freshen up the look of your home
Not ready for an entire remodel? Update your staircase with one of these ideas
Young woman on stairs in a loft caring for potted plants.

If you want to change the interior of your house, you can change out throw pillows and invest in new furniture, but your stairs are a set thing, right? Not quite. You may not be able to move stairs or rip them out entirely, but you can get creative about your stair design.

Changing up your staircase can be one way to upgrade the look of your home and it isn't as difficult as you may think. If you aren’t sure how to accomplish this, we’ve got 25 ideas ranging from subtle to dramatic to help you figure it out. Keep reading for inspiration on how to update your staircase.

Read more