How to help prevent a house fire

It can take less than five minutes for fire to overwhelm your home and threaten the safety of your family. While most insured homes are protected with a standard home policy, it's important to practice fire prevention methods.

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Three ways to help prevent house fires

1. Prepare and cook meals safely

Cooking is the leading cause of home fires. Preventing a house fire includes properly cooking your meals. It's important to remain in the kitchen while cooking at the stove or stay nearby when grilling. Barbecue grills should be at least 10 feet away from your home or trees to reduce the risk of a fire.

2. Properly use portable heaters

All combustible materials should remain three feet or more away from portable heaters. Maintaining this safe distance is crucial given the dangers of flammable materials like clothing and certain liquids. You can benefit from a heater with a thermostat control feature that will automatically turn off the device if it falls over while in use.

3. Monitor electrical malfunctions

Some common electrical issues are signaled by flickering lights, frequent power outages, power surges, burning odors, or worn-out outlets. Though outdated wiring is a common problem with older homes, electrical wiring issues can also be a problem for newer homes. Be mindful of overloading your outlets with power devices like your phones, TV, and computer. If you're experiencing electrical problems, contact an electrician to address the issues and keep your household safe. Learn about how to get a home fire inspection and how home insurance may cover fire damage.

Fire safety tips

  • Create an evacuation plan for your family and follow it during an emergency. If the smoke is heavy during your exit, stop and crawl to safety.
  • Immediately call 911 when you have made it to safety or if you are trapped. When trapped in a room, cover vents to prevent smoke from entering the room. If your clothing catches fire, immediately stop, drop, and roll! Get medical attention as soon as you can.
  • Store important documents in a fireproof safe. Create digital copies of important files as backup.
  • Check smoke alarms monthly and replace batteries as needed. Most batteries should be replaced twice a year.
  • Rinse and clean chemical stains from clothing before washing or drying. If a dryer fire occurs, keep the dryer door closed to eliminate oxygen flow and call 911.
  • Hand sanitizer, rubbing alcohol, and aerosol cans are common household items that are flammable and should be stored away from open flames.

How to properly use a fire extinguisher

Remember to store fire extinguishers properly on every level of your house. An easily accessible extinguisher can stop a fire from burning out of control. There are many different types of fire extinguishers. Common ones used most often in homes are multipurpose fire extinguishers rated for Class A, B, or C fires.

  1. Class A fires include common combustibles such as wood, paper, or plastic.
  2. Class B fires include flammable liquids, such as oil, gasoline, or paint.
  3. Class C fires are classified as electrical and include fires caused by electronics, faulty wiring, or appliances.

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