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Your house is more than just a house, it’s a home where you’ve created lifelong memories with family and friends. While our homes are often a safe space, there are also a number of safety risks to be mindful of. Over the past five years, home fires have been the cause of 2,620 deaths and $6.9 billion in property damage, according to the NFPA. From electrical problems to cooking, heating, decor, and more, there are a number of causes of home fires but many of them are preventable. 

The holiday season is a peak time for one of these instances, with 51% of December home fires starting from candles, compared to those in January and November. To help keep you, your family, and your home safe, here are some prevention and safety tips to practice the holiday season and beyond.  

Key Home Fire Stats

To understand how important it is to keep preventative measures a priority, here are a few key home fire stats you may not be aware of from the National Fire Prevention Association:

  • The top three causes of home fires are cooking, heating equipment, and electrical malfunctions. 
  • It takes just 30 seconds for a small flame to turn into a major blaze. 
  • An average of 70.3% of Americans has access to a fire extinguisher. 
  • Every year, there’s an average of 358,300 U.S. home-based fires.
  • Fire departments and fire services across the U.S. respond to a fire roughly every 24 seconds. 
  • Christmas tree fires cause $17.5 million in damages annually. 
  • Most fires that are started by candles as a heat source happen on Christmas Eve, Christmas, and New Year’s Day. 

General Safety Tips

  • Install smoke alarms on every level of your home. Test them frequently to make sure they work and change the batteries every 6 months.
  • Create multiple escape plans and practice them with your family. Create a role for everyone and identify various exits. If you have a second or third level to your home, consider keeping a fire ladder in each bedroom. 
  • Keep grills and fryers at least 3 feet away from your house and trees or bushes.
  • Keep space heaters at least 3 feet away from anything flammable. Always turn off heaters when leaving the room or going to bed.
  • Have a professional inspect and service chimneys, fireplaces, wood stoves and furnaces annually.
  • If someone in your home is deaf or hard of hearing, consider installing an alarm that combines flashing lights, vibration, and sound.
  • Store flammable chemicals and products properly and far away from electrical wires or sources of heat. 
  • Keep a fire extinguisher on every level of your home and teach everyone in your family how to use them. They should have an ABC rating, making them usable for all types of fires. 

Prevention Tips for the Kitchen and Beyond

  • Keep an eye on your cooking — unattended cooking equipment is a leading cause of home fires. 
  • Keep cooking appliances clear of combustible materials such as rags, towels and packaging materials. 
  • Avoid having too many cooks in the kitchen — multiple people working simultaneously can lead to accidents.
  • Keep children away from all cooking areas.
  • If you use space heaters in the colder months, only turn them on when you’re in the room and keep away from blankets, clothing, and any other flammable materials.
  • If you use your fireplace, make sure all embers are extinguished before you go to bed or leave the house. 
  • Never leave burning candles or open flames unattended. If you do burn candles, always:
  • Use sturdy holders. Keep candles away from children and pets.
  • Extinguish candles before going to bed or leaving the room.
  • Burn candles on even surfaces.
  • Keep candles away from upholstery or window coverings.

What to do in the event of a fire

We hope these prevention tips help avoid a home fire, but should you experience one, here’s what to do:

  • Get out and stay out. Find a safe place far away from your home while fire emergency responders contain the blaze. 
  • If you have kids, check on them and make sure they feel safe.
  • Have your pets checked by a veterinarian, lung damage and burns below their fur can often go unnoticed and cause severe implications. 
  • Call family and friends in the event you need a place to stay.
  • Contact your local insurance agent to alert them about the incident. 
  • Get a copy of the fire report as soon as it’s available. 
  • When safe, recover possessions and begin making notes on your home inventory for insurance purposes
  • Prioritize the mental wellbeing of your family. Fires can be incredibly stressful mentally, physically, emotionally, and financially. In the aftermath of a fire, it’s important to take care of your family first and foremost.

We hope these tips will help you prevent a home fire. To find an agent near you who can help explore your insurance options, please visit our website.