House fires are among the leading causes of insurance claims, personal injuries, and death in the United States. Let’s talk about how you can prevent fires from breaking out in your home. As the weather gets colder, the need to stay warm becomes more crucial. With the increased use of heating devices in the home, in addition to fires start inside a fireplace, the threat of a house fire also increases. Are you taking every necessary precaution to prevent such a disaster from occurring? Your family depends on you to keep them safe. Your pets are completely dependent upon you being a responsible parent. Would you really put them at risk? Here are ten ways to reduce your risk of house fires:

  1. Test your smoke alarms regularly.

Having properly functioning smoke alarms inside your home is the best way to avoid a house fire. They can instantly alert you to the sign of danger to yourself and others. If they aren’t working, a devastating tragedy could take place in the event of a fire. Make sure you test your alarms at least every 6 months.

  1. Inspect all your heating sources.

Get your heating sources inspected by a licensed professional. Your air filters should be cleaned out. Space heaters are a good way to stay warm during the cold months, but they may also pose a threat to your safety if not used properly. Keep them away from anything flammable and make sure areas around them are cleared of dust and/or debris.

  1. Keep your stove and oven clean.

Apart from the fact that living in a clean space works wonders for your mental health and will help keep you calm, relaxed, and happy overall, a dirty stove or oven can spell potential danger for your home. While it may not be your lack of experience with cooking that causes a fire to break out, food particles that are left behind from previous cooking sessions could cause a fire if they are too close to a burner.

Additionally, hanging curtains—when left too close to a stove—can catch fire. Anything that is kept too close to a flame could catch fire. This is why it is so important to keep your cooking areas clean at all times.

  1. Don’t leave your kitchen while you have your stove or oven on.

Don’t leave your stove or oven on and unattended. The football game wait.

  1. Always check your dryer.

Cleaning lint from your dryer could be one of the most tedious chores you could complete. However. that doesn’t take anything away from how important it is to do and do properly. Lint that is left lingering could potentially start a fire.

  1. Maintain all cords.

If you have a dog, you’ve probably experienced the unfortunate reality of chewed cords or cables. Before plugging in any of your cords, make sure there are no signs of them being chewed or frayed. If they are, you could have a potential disaster on your hands if you’re not paying attention.

Cords should never be placed underneath rugs as they could get extremely hot.

  1. Properly store flammable products.

Many household products, how ever effective in their abilities to keep your surfaces and other areas clean, also that unfortunate ability to cause fires. Be sure to read the warning labels of your cleaning products before using them. If any of your cleaning products are exposed to excess heat, they could potentially combust, causing a fire. Always store them in a cool, dry space.

  1. Practice caution with candles.

Who doesn’t enjoy the scent of a burning candle during those colder months? Not only does it keep you warm, but you get the pleasure of that aromatic scent filling your nostrils. Still, it’s important to always be safe when using candles as they could potentially cause a fire. When you are finished using one, place the lid back on top of it. Keep candles away from any loose clothing or from carpets or rugs. If you have little children, teach them about the dangers of playing around candles.

  1. Be careful with your fireplace.

It may sound obvious, but it still needs to be said. Never leave a room before extinguishing a fire going in a fireplace. Also, ashes from a fire tend to be hot. So, make sure you give them ample time to cool off before disposing of them.

  1. Keep fire extinguishers around.

Fires can break out suddenly with little to no warning. This is why it’s so important to have a good fire extinguisher handy in your home. Train every single member of your family on how to responsibly use a fire extinguisher. You can’t always be around to protect them.

Conduct a Home Inventory

Disaster can strike at any moment. And home inventories are one of your best defenses against a disaster such as a fire. Write down the value of everything valuable in your home. For those particularly pricey items such as jewelry or paintings, you may consider getting a professional to appraise them for you. If you have documented evidence of something’s value, it is much more likely you will get that amount back or at least close to it in the event of a loss.