10 Fire Prevention Tips You Need to Know

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These fire prevention tips from an assistant fire chief provide a strong plan of action for fire safety at home.

Sponsored by Home Depot: This piece was created in partnership with Home Depot, home to Kidde fire safety products that can help you protect your home and family with fire alarms, carbon monoxide alarms and fire extinguishers. 

Keeping your home and family safe starts with careful fire prevention measures. We spoke with Christopher Feder, the assistant chief at the Penn Wynne Fire Department in Pennsylvania, who offered his favorite fire prevention and safety tips.

Feder suggests buying yourself extra time if a fire breaks out at home, especially during a natural disaster. “Public safety response times from the fire department and EMS (emergency medical services) may be delayed significantly,” he says, “so it is important to have backup plans for communication with loved ones, escape routes and proper equipment to deal with any situation in this realm.”

Accidental fires also pose a significant threat. Feder says every home should have the following fire prevention measures.

Install smoke detectors

Woman checking smoke detector in homeRafael Ben-Ari/Getty Images

“Smoke detectors are a must-have,” says Feder. “One in each bedroom is ideal. Batteries should be changed out twice a year unless manufacturer instructions say differently. Think about battery swapping at the beginning of the year and the start of summer.”

Combination smoke and carbon monoxide detectors with 10-year batteries are the best choice, Feder says. This Kidde Worry-Free Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Detector offers double protection and voice alarms.

Choose insulated outlet covers

“Make sure every electrical outlet in the house is covered with insulated outlet covers,” Feder says. Electrical fires are extremely common due to poor wiring that homeowners may not even know about.

Every pot needs a cover

Grease fires are a common cause of accidental fires. “All cooking pans should have a lid to be used in the instance of a kitchen fire,” Feder says. “This will help mitigate the problem while an extinguisher is found and used.”

Have a fire extinguisher on hand

close up of person using fire extinguisherJeffrey Coolidge/Getty Images

“Every household should have at least one fire extinguisher,” Feder says. “Go for an all-purpose model which includes several types of fires. Keeping an extinguisher in the kitchen is a good idea. It should cover standard combustibles including paper and wood as well as flammable liquids and electrical fires.”

This Kidde Full Home Fire Extinguisher set comes as a two-pack for extra safety and includes an easy-to-use hose.

Keep battery packs charged

Remember that communication is often disrupted during a natural disaster. “Roads may be flooded, power wires may be down, lightning strikes may occur causing surges and sparks, natural gas pipes may be damaged and trees may fall and damage utilities,” Feder said.

Prepare yourself with backup batteries for things like cellphones and flashlights that can help you make a safe escape in the event of a fire.

Keep your fireplace clean

If you’re using a fireplace to heat your home after losing power in a natural disaster, you’ll need to mitigate the additional risk of an accidental fire. That means keeping the chimney clean.

While fireplaces are a source of comfort and warmth, they’re also a likely risk factor, especially around Christmas if a tree with dry and brittle needles is nearby. Make sure your chimney is serviced annually.

Ceramic candle holders

Open flames in the house should never be left unattended. “Always use your candle cover or another fire-resistant material that can be placed over the candle to quell out the oxygen and the flame,” Feder says. Use ceramic plates or enclosed fireproof candle holders to minimize risk.

Use elbow grease

Eliminating grease one of the best ways to prevent accidental fires in the kitchen. “Ovens, stoves and grills should be cleaned regularly so the grease buildup is minimal,” Feder says.

Invest in high quality power strips

“Overloading outlets with power strips not able to handle multiple devices is also a common trigger of accidental electrical fires,” Feder says. He suggests lightening the load of each outlet when possible, and investing in high-quality power strips rather than bargain finds.

Have a fire escape plan

Smoke coming in under door from fire inside homeMichael Blann/Getty Images

Feder says every home should have fire prevention and escape plans in place. Prepare yourself with an all-in-one fire safety kit that includes extinguishers, smoke alarms and a ladder for second-floor window escapes.

“Everyone should have an escape route for multi-level as well as street-level homes,” he says. “Fire escape ladders can easily be purchased. They are simply anchored to a window and thrown outside to climb down to safety.”

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Bryce Gruber
Bryce Gruber covers gift ideas, shopping, and e-commerce at The Family Handyman, although you've likely seen her work across a variety of women's lifestyle and parenting topics at TheLuxurySpot.com, Bravo, Parents.com, Martha Stewart, and on your TV screen through national talk shows including The Tamron Hall Show. She lives and works in New York's Hudson Valley with her five small children. Find her on social media at @brycegruber.