We’re all guilty of multitasking around the home, and we often overlook the ways we’re unintentionally putting our homes and families at risk.
Home fires are a major concern, especially as 78% of fire deaths occur in home fires[i], and fire is the sixth leading cause of unintentional injury in the home[ii]. But there are simple things you can do around the house to help reduce your chance of a home fire.
We’ve gathered 5 home fire safety tips to help you better protect your loved ones and your home in every season.
Be a safe grill master
Summer means sunshine, fireworks, and barbeques. While you’re enjoying the weather, it’s important to remember that grills can spread fire quickly – and remain hot for a long time after use.
Make sure you never leave your grill unattended and place it at least 10 feet away from other objects, such as your house siding, shrubs, decorations, etc. Be sure to keep children and pets at least 3 feet away from a grill, even after the meal is done, as it will stay hot for quite some time and can cause burns. Plus, use long handled utensils when grilling.
Clean your grill. Simple enough, a dirty grill is one of the leading causes of grill fires according to the National Fire Protection Association. And don’t forget to read your grill’s safety and use instructions to make sure you’re using it correctly.
Slow down in the kitchen
Dinnertime is often one of the most hectic times of the day. Unsurprisingly, cooking is the leading cause of home fires. Tempting as it might be, never leave the kitchen when cooking. If you have to leave, be sure to turn off burners and the oven.
When you’re prepping a meal, slow down a bit and be sure to keep objects that can burn, such as dishtowels, paper, recipes, and curtains at least 3 feet away from the range top. And protect yourself – roll up your sleeves, use oven mitts, and make sure that you’re not wearing loose fitting clothes that can touch a burner and catch on fire. It’s also a good idea to keep a fire extinguisher in the kitchen, just in case.
Keep warm in winter safely
Winter means blankets and holiday cheer, but it also means that we ward off the freeze with potential fire risks like space heaters.
Keep space heaters at least 3 feet away from things that can burn, such as curtains, loose paper, etc. Remember to always turn off the heater when leaving the room or when going to bed, as unattended heaters pose a great danger.
If you’re planning on cuddling up by the fire, hire a service person to inspect your chimney, fireplace, wood and coal stoves and/or central furnaces once a year. Don’t forget to have these cleaned when necessary to further protect your home.
As with space heaters, keep things that can burn away from your fireplace and place a glass or metal screen in front of it to keep any flying embers contained. Always be sure to keep children and pets away from space heaters and fireplaces to prevent burns or other injury.
Blow out the candles – not just on your birthday
Candles can make a home feel very cozy, but need to be enjoyed safely. Always use stable candleholders made of material that won’t catch fire (i.e., glass or metal).
Children are drawn to fire out of their curious nature, so only light candles when an adult is in the room and blow them out when you exit. Start teaching children fire safety early on, stressing that they should never touch lighters, matches, or candles, and don’t allow children to keep candles or incense in their rooms.
Store matches and lighters in a locked cabinet out of the reach of children, and avoid keeping matches or lighters in your jacket or purse where they can be unintentionally accessed by little hands.
Avoid storing gas at home
Gasoline is very dangerous, yet we often have it on hand for our lawn tools. Inside a garage or home, gasoline vapors can explode with a tiny spark. While it’s best not to keep any gasoline at home, if you must, use a special safety container. If possible, keep the container in an outdoor shed away from your home – and be sure to close all the openings. Gasoline should never be brought indoors.
When storing any dangerous or hazardous products, be sure to follow all of the safety instructions and always close the lid and put the products away after use. It’s best to store them away in a safe place with a lock for not only your protection, but also to protect children or pets.
Whether it’s summer or winter, you can better protect your home and loved ones from home fires by practicing these tips. You can also contact your local Fire Department for more fire safety information.
Learn how Clarke’s process for fire damage and repair restoration can restore your home to pre-fire condition.
[i] National Fire Protection Association
[ii] National Safety Council
 U.S. Fire Administration
Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in January 2012 and has been revised for accuracy and comprehensiveness.