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Stay safer with these tips to lower the risk of fires and burn injuries.

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The risk of home fires increases during winter months – and almost three-quarters of burn injuries, one of the leading causes of accidental death and injury in the United States, occur at home.
Here are 10 ways to prevent a fire:
  1. Never leave cooking unattended in the kitchen.
  2. Get rid of electrical cords that are frayed or cracked. Don’t overload electrical outlets.
  3. Keep anything flammable, including curtains, furniture, bedding and paper, away from fireplaces, candles, stoves and heaters.
  4. Don’t leave candles burning when no one is watching. For added safety, use battery-operated flameless candles to create the same look without the danger.
  5. Make sure portable heaters have safety guards and automatic shut-offs in case they are knocked over.
  6. Check the wattage of lightbulbs. Don’t use a higher wattage than recommended by the light fixture.
  7. Do not smoke in bed or on the couch. Better yet, don’t smoke inside the house at all. Dampen butts and ashes before throwing them away.
  8. Make sure matches and lighters are kept out of reach of children.
  9. Have your heating system inspected. Yearly maintenance makes it more likely that safety concerns are identified before they become a problem.
  10. Clean chimneys. If you use your wood-burning fireplace regularly, have your chimney inspected and cleaned each year.
To protect your family if there is a fire:
  • Install smoke detectors on every floor and in each bedroom. Replace batteries at least once a year and test alarms monthly. Working smoke detectors cut your chances of dying in a house fire in half.
  • Plan your escape route. Each family member should know two ways to get out of every room in the house. Set up a meeting point outside. Practice your escape plan at least twice a year.
  • Tell kids their first priority is to get out of the house – and stay out. Stress the importance of not spending time to find pets or gather favorite belongings.
  • Check door handles. If the handles are hot, don’t open the door.
  • Practice stop, drop and roll. If your clothes catch on fire, this can help put out the flames.
  • Leave the house first before calling for help. Once outside, call 911.

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Date Last Reviewed: December 5, 2019

Editorial Review: Andrea Cohen, Editorial Director, Baldwin Publishing, Inc. Contact Editor

Medical Review: Perry Pitkow, MD

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