According to the National Fire Protection Association, a home structure fire was reported in the United States once every 85 seconds. The risk of injury or death from a home fire is something that every homeowner should consider and take steps to prevent. Here are three tips that every homeowner can use to minimize the risk of a house fire and keep their family safe.

Avoid Common Household Fire Hazards

House fires can occur as a result of many different sources of heat in the home, from ovens and heaters to overloaded electrical outlets. House fire prevention involves paying attention to all of these potential fire starters and creating safe usage habits for each of them.

When cooking, the two most dangerous things you can do are leave the oven unattended and turn off your smoke alarms. While the false alarms that occur when you're cooking can be annoying, it is safer to deal with them as they happen by opening a window or waving a wet towel near the alarm until it stops going off. If you leave your food unattended with nearby smoke alarms turned off, you may be disabling them at a time you need them most.

Space heaters and baseboard heaters can cause a fire if furniture, drapes, or other flammable materials are too close to them. You should make sure anything flammable is at least three or more feet away from a heater to prevent it from catching flame, and always turn these heaters off before you go to bed.

Install a Residential Fire Sprinkler System

You have probably seen fire sprinkler systems in commercial buildings, but you may not know that these can be installed in homes as well. Residential fire sprinklers are one of the most reliable forms of fire control, because they react almost immediately after a fire has started. Even when sprinklers do not extinguish a blaze, they can drastically reduce the rate at which fire and smoke spread. This gives you and your family more precious time to vacate your home in the event of a major fire.

Some homeowners may be concerned that water sprinklers could cause water damage when they are activated by a small, non-catastrophic fire. However, modern fire sprinkler systems do not carry this risk, because only the sprinklers closest to the fire activates when it is triggered by the heat. In many cases, only a single sprinkler will activate, minimizing the impact of the sprinkler system on your home and belongings.

Create a Fire Escape Plan

No matter how many safety systems you have in place or how many precautions you take to prevent a house fire, it is important that your entire family is mentally prepared to escape in the event that one occurs. Creating a fire escape plan with your family and studying it until you all know it by heart will allow everyone to get to safety as quickly as possible. Home fire drills can be especially effective for cementing the plan in younger children's minds.

When creating a fire escape plan, it is a good idea to draw out a floor plan of your home and mark all available exits. A good escape plan is redundant, so every member of your family should have two or more nearby exits to try in the event that one route is blocked. Remember to mark windows as possible exits as well, as they can provide an emergency escape route if all other exits are inaccessible.

Understanding the basics of fire safety and prevention is one of the most important things you can do to protect your home and your family. Use these tips to avoid common causes of house fires and be prepared if one ever occurs.

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