As the weather gets colder and we spend more time indoors, it’s important to take precautions to prevent a house fire. Whether your family enjoys a warm fire in the fireplace or preparing holiday meals in the kitchen for friends and neighbors, here are a few helpful tips to help you stay safe this winter.

Tips to Prevent a House Fire

1. Test the Smoke Detectors

Place smoke detectors on every level of your home, in sleeping areas, and in the kitchen 10 to 12 feet from cooking appliances. Test the devices monthly to verify the alarm will sound, and replace the batteries at least once a year.

2. Keep Flammable Items Away from Heat Sources

Curtains, blankets, rugs, and clothing can catch fire if too close to heat or open flames. Whether using a fireplace, wood stove, or space heater, keep flammable materials at least five feet from the heat.

3. Prevent a House Fire: Don’t Leave Candles Unattended

If you use candles for holiday decoration or ambiance, use a fire-resistant holder to support them. Extinguish candles before you leave the room or go to bed. If you have young children or pets, use battery-powered flameless candles to reduce the risk of injury and house fire.

4. Careful Use of Space Heaters

Space heaters commonly cause house fires, so use them safely. Place the appliance on a flat, stable surface several feet away from flammable materials. Only run a space heater when someone is home and awake. Turn them off when you leave the room or go to bed, and never use a space heater to dry wet clothes or shoes.

5. Don’t Overload Outlets or Extension Cords

Overloaded electrical outlets are a common cause of house fires. Be mindful of how many devices are plugged into each outlet, and stay within the capacity of extension cords. Whenever possible, plug appliances directly into the electrical outlets instead of using an extension cord.

Some older homes have wiring systems that cannot handle the electrical needs of a modern family. If you often experience tripped breakers or overheating outlets, contact a professional electrician to assess the situation and update your home’s electrical system.

6. Be Mindful When Cooking to Prevent a House Fire

When preparing meals for family or guests, stay alert in the kitchen. Keep pot handles turned inward, maintain a clear area around the stove and oven, and tie apron strings back. Never leave dish towels, napkins, or paper plates near the stove. These items can easily ignite, leading to a fire.

With these tips, you can help prevent a house fire and keep your family safe this winter. Follow these guidelines to enjoy a comfortable and secure season.

Veterans First Home Inspections offers inspection services to homebuyers and sellers in the Washington, DC, area. Contact us to schedule an appointment.