Reduce the chances of damage or destruction with these expert-approved tips.

Having a fire in your home is one of the most frightening thoughts for homeowners. Instead of worrying about the potential damage, turn that fear into preparedness and take steps to make where you live—and the people who live there—less vulnerable right now. Here are seven ways to make and keep your home more fire safe.

hand on smoke detector
Credit: Getty Images

Install multiple smoke alarms.

Having one smoke alarm in your home isn't enough. The fire code requires one on every level of your home, including inside each bedroom. "It also requires that smoke alarms be interconnected, so that when one alarm sounds they all do," says Susan McKelvey, communications manager of the National Fire Protection Association. "If there is a fire in the basement, for example, the smoke alarm nearest that fire would sound, but so would all the other smoke alarms in the home." This will alert people to a fire, even when they're sleeping. If you've got kids, let them hear what an alarm sounds like and tell them what to do if it goes off.

Inspect alarms' battery strength monthly.

Don't wait until you hear the deficient alarm chirping to change its dead batteries. Check each alarm once a month. Develop a schedule that's easy to remember, such as checking the first Saturday of every month or set a monthly reminder on your phone.

Don't abandon the stove while cooking.

Maybe this has happened to you: Just as you start cooking something on the stove, you get a text from a friend. Instead of turning off the burner, you text back and walk out of the room, leaving the stove unsupervised. If the pan burned and went up in flames, so could your entire home. If the stove is on, you should be right there with it.

Keep the dryer's filter clean.

To avoid your dryer catching on fire from a clogged lint filter, wipe all lint from the filter before every load. Check the vent pipe for debris regularly, too. Chemicals in laundry detergents and dryer sheets could make a combustible situation even worse, so don't keep them on top of the washer and dryer.

Stop trashing the fireplace.

A fireplace shouldn't be confused with a garbage can. The only thing you should burn is dry, seasoned wood or artificial logs, says McKelvey. But people throw all sorts of dangerous items into the open flame, including pizza boxes, magazines, wrapping paper, painted lumber, plywood, and dried-out Christmas trees. "When these materials burn, they can create creosote, which is a highly flammable substance that can build up along the inside of the chimney," which could result in an intense fire.

Blow out candles before going to bed.

It's relaxing to light a few scented candles in your bedroom before going to sleep, but there's nothing calming about a lit candle falling off a table and possibly setting the bed or drapes on fire. Blow out all candles before your head hits the pillow.

Fix damaged electrical cords.

A faulty electrical cord may look more unkempt than menacing but it could spark a fire within seconds—don't use the device until you get the cord fixed.


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