Fire Safety Tips: Do you know what the leading cause of house fires is? Read on.


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Neighborhood Safe Neighborhood

by Staff Neighborhood Safety Reporter

According to Pemco Insurance, “Of all the risks your home faces, fire is perhaps the cruelest. Unlike a thief who might target electronics or jewelry, fire destroys everything in its path – valuables, family mementos and, tragically, it claims about 100 lives every year across Washington and Oregon.”

What is the leading cause of fires in the home? Unattended cooking!

However, as the weather gets colder home heating becomes the leading cause of fire from portable space heaters, baseboard heaters, fireplaces and candles.

If a fire occurs in your home, a working smoke alarm can save your life.

Next week, we’ll discuss smoke and carbon monoxide alarms. If you are a renter, or own/manage a rental property, or rent a mother-in-law apartment, or plan to sell your home, you might be surprised to learn the regulations!

This week, are some tips to keep your home and family safe from fire:

__ Stand by your pan. Always stay in the kitchen when cooking on the stovetop. If you must leave, turn off the burner.
__ Take care to stay close to cooking appliances. Avoid high heat settings, when possible.
__ Keep stove tops and countertops free of combustibles and clutter. But keep oven mitts or pot holders safely nearby.
__ For a stove top fire: Turn off the heat. Put a pot lid over the fire to smother it. Never put water on a grease fire.
__ For an oven or microwave fire: Turn off the heat. Keep the door closed to smother it.

NOTE: All heaters need space! Woodstoves, fireplaces, and portable heaters need at least 36” of clear space around them. Baseboard heaters need a minimum of 12”.

__ Check baseboard heaters often and remove objects that have fallen on top or near the heater
__ Keep all furniture, bedding or curtains a safe distance from your heaters. Never block the flow of heat
__ Never permit electrical cords to drape across heaters

When shopping for a portable heater, choose a model with:
__ Temperature control
__ An automatic shut-off device
__ A seal of approval from an independent testing laboratory, indicating that it has met basic safety standards.
__ Keep portable heaters three feet away from anything that could burn
__ Always place portable heaters on flat surfaces
__ Always turn the heater off when you leave the room or go to sleep
__ Avoid using household extension cord with portable heaters, If you must use an extension cord, make certain that it is a heavy-duty cord and that you unplug it when you leave the room

__ Always use a fireplace screen to contain sparks
__ Keep combustibles a safe distance from the fireplace
__ Never leave a fire unattended, especially in areas used by children or pets.
__ Never burn trash. It burns too hot and could spark a chimney fire or send hot embers floating onto your roof.
__ Clean out the fireplace ashes when cool and place in a metal container
__ If you burn just half a cord of wood per year, have your chimney inspected annually by a professional. Creosote can build up inside the chimney and pose a fire hazard.

__ LED candles are the better alternative to open flame candles.
__ Use only glass or metal containers
__ Keep candles away from decorations and combustibles – at least 12”
__ Extinguish candles before you leave the room


__ Identify two ways out of every room.

__ Confirm windows can be easily opened from the inside and the escape route path is clear.

__ Practice an escape plan with your family at least twice a year.

__ If there is a fire, safely escape the house before calling 9-1-1.

__ Are house numbers visible from the street?

__ Never run back inside to save belongings. Your life is worth more than any possession.


Have one on each floor of your home, within sight and easily accessible.

Here’s an easy way to remember how to use a fire extinguisher: P.A.S.S.: Pull (the pin), Aim, Squeeze, and Sweep. Make sure everyone in your family knows how to properly extinguish a small fire.


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More Fire Safety information:

For Older Adults: Older adults have a greater risk of dying in a fire than the total population. Think about your needs in an emergency: Be sure to keep your phone, glasses, hearing aid, cane or wheelchair close to your bed at night to grab quickly as you leave.

For Children: Teach young children that matches and lighters are tools, not toys!

Fire Safety Activity Book:

Printable paper fire truck:

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