Preventing Fires

Many house fires are preventable. Learn more about steps you can take to greatly reduce your risk for a house fire.


Cooking is the leading cause of home fires in the U.S. It is also the leading cause of fire injuries.

  • Never leave your stove, oven, toaster or microwave unattended. Keep an eye on what you fry.
  • Always wear short, tight-fitting sleeves when cooking.
  • Keep towels, pot holders and curtains away from flames and heating elements.
  • Clean cooking surfaces regularly to prevent grease buildup which can ignite.
  • If a fire breaks out while cooking, put a lid on the pan to smother it.
  • Never throw water on a grease fire.
  • Heat oil gradually to avoid burns from spattering grease.
  • Use extra caution when preparing deep-fried foods.
  • Never use the oven to heat your home.
  • Double-check the kitchen before you go to bed or leave the house. Make sure all small appliances are turned off.

Flammable Items

  • Never use gasoline, benzine, naptha, or similar flammable liquids indoors.
  • Store flammable liquids in approved containers in well-ventilated storage areas.
  • Never smoke near flammable liquids.
  • Discard all rags or materials that have been soaked in flammable liquids after you have used them. Safely discard them outdoors in a metal container.
  • Insulate chimneys and place spark arresters on top. The chimney should be at least three feet higher than the roof. Remove branches hanging above and around the chimney.

Heating Sources

  • Be careful when using alternative heating sources.
  • Check with your local fire department on the legality of using kerosene heaters in your community. Be sure to fill kerosene heaters outside, and be sure they have cooled.
  • Place heaters at least three feet away from flammable materials.
  • Use only the type of fuel designated for your unit and follow manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Store ashes in a metal container outside and away from your residence.
  • Keep open flames away from walls, furniture, drapery and flammable items.
  • Keep a screen in front of the fireplace.
  • Have heating units inspected and cleaned annually by a certified specialist.

Matches and Smoking

  • Keep matches and lighters up high, away from children, and, if possible, in a locked cabinet.
  • Never smoke in bed or when drowsy or medicated.
  • Provide smokers with deep, sturdy ashtrays.
  • Douse cigarette and cigar butts with water before disposal.

Electrical Wiring

  • Have the electrical wiring in your residence checked by an electrician.
  • Inspect extension cords for frayed or exposed wires or loose plugs.
  • Make sure outlets have cover plates and no exposed wiring.
  • Make sure wiring does not run under rugs, over nails, or across high-traffic areas.
  • Do not overload extension cords or outlets.
  • Make sure insulation does not touch bare electrical wiring.