- Avoid smoking in bed. Bed linens are highly combustible. It is easy to be burned, and it's highly likely individuals will suffer severe burns when a fire starts in bed. Drowsy or medicated people may forget lit materials, resulting in fire.
- Provide smokers with deep, sturdy ash trays. Douse cigarette and cigar butts with water before disposal. Smoking materials are the leading cause of residential fire deaths in the United States.
- Keep matches and lighters up high, away from children, preferably in a locked cabinet. Children are fascinated by fire and may play with matches and lighters if they are not kept out of reach.
- Make sure your home heating source is clean and in working order. Many home fires are started by poorly maintained furnaces or stoves, cracked or rusted furnace parts, or chimneys with creosote buildup.
- Use portable heaters in well-ventilated rooms only. Keep blankets, clothing, curtains, furniture, and anything that could get hot and catch fire at least three feet away from all heat sources. Plug heaters directly into the wall socket and unplug them when they are not in use. Portable heaters use oxygen and produce potentially toxic gases. It is best to keep them well-ventilated to avoid gas build-up.
- Use kerosene heaters only if permitted by law in your area. Refuel kerosene heaters outdoors only, after they have cooled. Kerosene has a low flash point. If mistakenly dripped on hot surfaces, it can cause fires.
Have chimneys and wood stoves inspected annually and cleaned if necessary. Chimneys and wood stoves build up creosote, which is the residue left behind by burning wood. Creosote is flammable and needs to be professionally removed periodically.
- Keep the stove area clean and clear of combustibles, such as towels, clothing, curtains, bags, boxes, and other appliances. Combustible materials near stoves may catch fire quickly when your attention is elsewhere.
- Cook with short or restrained sleeves. Loose sleeves can catch fire quickly.
- Conduct a home hazard hunt. Many things around the home can be fire hazards. Taking time to look for and eliminate hazards greatly reduces your risk.
- Check electrical wiring in your home. Fix frayed extension cords, exposed wires, or loose plugs.
- Make sure wiring is not under rugs, over nails, or in high traffic areas.
- Outlets should have cover plates and no exposed wiring.
- Avoid overloading outlets or extension cords.
- Only purchase appliances and electrical devices that bear the label of a testing laboratory such as Underwriter's Laboratories (UL), Factory Mutual (FM), etc.
- Store combustible materials in open areas away from heat sources.
- Place rags used to apply household chemicals in metal containers with tight-fitting lids.
- Buy only testing laboratory-labeled heaters and follow the manufacturer's directions. Heaters that have gone through rigorous testing and are approved for use in the home are less likely to cause fire.
Information compiled from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.