Here’s a look at fire prevention tips to help keep your home and family protected.

Cooking

Cooking equipment is the No. 1 cause of house fires.1 Cooking safety tips:2 ● Don’t leave the kitchen if you’re frying, boiling, grilling or broiling food. ● Use a timer to remind you that you are cooking. ● Keep oven mitts, wooden utensils, food packaging and towels away from the stovetop. ● If a fire starts in a pan, don’t toss water on it. Put a lid on it to suffocate the flames. ● Keep grills a safe distance from the home and allow cool-off time before leaving a grill unattended.

Heating

Heating equipment is involved in 1 of every 6 home fires.3 Heating safety tips:3 ● Keep flammables at least 3 feet away from the furnace, fireplace, wood stove or portable space heater. ● Never leave fires unattended, candles burning or portable heaters on while asleep or in another room. ● Have your chimney inspected and cleaned by a professional once a year.

Electrical

Electrical appliances and lighting equipment are the leading causes of home fire property damage.1 Electrical safety tips:4 ● Check electrical cords for damaged, cracked or loose wires. ● Don’t run cords across doorways or under carpets or rugs. ● Use light bulbs with wattage equal to or less than what the manufacturer recommends. ● Plug only one heat-producing appliance in each outlet.

Wildfires

18,137 residences in the U.S. were destroyed by wildfires in 2018.5 Wildfire safety tips:6 ● Keep your roof, gutters and deck clear of leaves, pine needles and other flammable material. ● Remove all vegetation that’s within 5 feet of your home. ● Keep your lawn hydrated and maintained. ● Enclose eaves and cover attic and soffit vents to prevent embers and sparks from entering your home. ● Prune tree limbs so the lowest branches are at least 6 feet above the ground.

1 Home Structure Fires, National Fire Protection Association, 2018. 2 Cooking Safety, National Fire Protection Association, 2018. 3 Is Your Home a Fire Hazard?, Red Cross, 2019. 4 Electrical Safety: Checklist, National Fire Protection Association, 2017. 5 Wildfire, National Fire Protection Association, 2019. 6 Protect Your Home From Wildfire, DisasterSafety.org, 2019.

Fire is one of the most disastrous and life-threatening things that can happen to a home. U.S. fire departments responded to an average of 354,583 home fires per year from 2013-2017, resulting in an annual average of:1

  • 2,617 fatalities
  • 11,217 injuries
  • $6.9 billion in property loss

In less than 30 seconds, a small fire can turn into a big one. In just two minutes, a fire can become deadly. In less than five minutes, an entire house can become engulfed in flames.2

Daniel Gorham, a research engineer at the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety, as well as a firefighter, tells Amica that cooking is the number one cause of home fires.3 That potential hazard is followed by heating equipment, electrical malfunctions, candles and other open flames, and smoking, which is the leading cause of fatalities from a fire in the U.S.4

Taking active fire prevention steps, such as those in the Amica Home Fire Safety Checklist, can help protect your home and family. “Home fire safety starts at controlling ignition sources,” says Gorham. One important example, he notes, is grill safety. Keeping grills a safe distance from the home and allowing cool-off time before leaving a grill unattended are two ways to help prevent a fire. Similarly, inside the home, move combustibles away from stoves and ovens when in use, he adds.

Having fire safety equipment for your home – smoke alarms, carbon monoxide alarms, residential sprinkler systems and fire extinguishers – also can prevent a fire or stop a small fire from becoming a deadly one.

Gorham points out that where homeowners place smoke alarms is crucial. “You should have one in each bedroom and one outside of the sleeping area,” he says. Read the installation instructions for placement near kitchen areas, as it may increase the chances of a false alarm, leading some people to take the batteries out to stop the annoyance, according to Gorham.

If an alarm should go off due to a fire you were unable to prevent or stop, the next best measure is to confine the fire. “Closing the door to the room that's on fire, or the door to the room where you want to keep yourself from the fire, can actually resist the spread of smoke and fire, and gives someone the time to safely evacuate or be rescued by the fire department,” Gorham explains.

Not all fires are caused by human error or negligence. Each year, hundreds of homes are destroyed by wildfires. In 2017, an estimated $10 billion in property damage occurred as a result of wildfires in Northern California.5 That’s why it’s critical to know what protection is offered by the property coverage on your homeowners policy.

Fortunately, there are things homeowners can do to help make their property and neighborhood safe from wildfires and house fires. Using the Amica Home Fire Safety Checklist can be a helpful tool in making your home safe.

When the unexpected happens, like a fire or storm, do you know if you’re covered by your homeowners insurance? Test your knowledge with Amica’s quiz.