A Home Fire Safety Checklist

A hand holding a house made of matchsticks that are on fire.

You may think your house will never catch fire. You never know, but to increase your chances of it not happening, follow this simple safety checklist. You'll sleep better at night.

Speaking of sleeping well at night, here are some tips to keep your bedroom safe.

  • Never smoke in bed.
  • Don’t use a laptop computer in bed -- it can overheat and start your blankets on fire.
  • Check cords on lamps, alarm clocks and any other electrical appliance in the room.
  • Dust ceiling fans regularly and used canned air to blow out the dust in the motor.
  • Make sure any closet lights have a fixture cover.

Since it's used so often, scope our your family or living room for potential hazards.

  • Dust all electronics often. But don't just dust the top -- use canned air again to get out the last bit of dust from inside.
  • Invest in fire-resistant upholstery
  • Again, check cords for dryness, brittleness, nicks or punctures.
  • If you have a fireplace, make sure the chimney is cleaned at least once per year. Never leave a fire unattended, even if you have a good fire screen. Make sure all the embers are out before leaving the room.
  • If you enjoy candles, don’t leave them unattended, either, especially if you have small children or pets.
  • Check the recommended wattage on lamps, and use the proper light bulbs. Keep incandescent and halogen bulbs at least 12 inches away from any lamp shades.
  • Don’t run any cords under carpeting.

The kitchen is the second most hazardous room in the house.

  • Keep towels and hot pads away from the stove. Grease fires and flames from gas stoves can ignite anything flammable that is near the appliance.
  • Don’t ever leave the stove unattended.
  • Make sure there is a fire/smoke alarm in the kitchen.

The garage, laundry room and basement have all kinds of chemicals that can cause a fire.

  • Never store gasoline inside the house. If you have more than 5 gallons of gas to store, make sure you have a metal cabinet in which to store the gas cans.
  • Paint, paint thinners and solvents are all flammable. Be sure to read the caution statements on the cans. Some items can self-combust or there can be chemical reactions if one is stored next to another. The same goes for fertilizers.
  • If your garage is attached to the house, install a solid fire safe door between the house and the garage.
  • Keep your furnace clean. Change filters once per month.
  • Keep rags, cardboard boxes and any other materials away from the furnace and the water heater.
  • Keep access doors on the water heater closed.
  • Inspect breaker wires regularly to make sure none of them are loose.
  • Keep the lint trap clean on your dryer and have ridged venting installed. Never use the accordion-type dryer vent.

Attic space is often forgotten.

  • Keep insulation, even if it is fiberglass, at least 3 inches away from any lighting fixtures.

Whole house protection tips:

  • Keep matches and lighters out of reach from children.
  • Don’t overload outlets. There are two plugs for a reason.
  • Inspect extension cords often. If they become brittle, dry or have any cuts, throw them away.
  • If you use a space heater, make sure it is on a solid surface and can’t tip over. Also keep them at least 3 feet away from curtains, beds and other materials.
  • Install fire/smoke alarms in every room.
  • Have an escape plan if there should ever be a fire, and have a meeting place.
  • Practice your escape plan often.
  • Have a fire extinguisher handy in the most fire-prone areas of the house, such as the kitchen, basement and garage.
  • Know how to use the fire extinguisher.

No matter how you look at it, taking a few minutes a month to do a whole house fire safety check is worth the time and effort. Do yourself a favor and start the routine today.