You are using an outdated browser. Please upgrade your browser to improve your experience.

Tips to Avoid A Fire in Your Home

Home Fires
Every day, the Red Cross responds to as many as 170 home fires – that’s one fire every eight minutes.

Every year the American Red Cross responds to about 70,000 disasters across the country, many of them fires which have damaged or destroyed someone’s home.

Home fires are the biggest disaster threat to people in this country – worse than floods, hurricanes and tornadoes. Every day, the Red Cross responds to as many as 170 home fires – that’s one fire every nine minutes.

During cold weather, the number of home fires often rises as people turn up their thermostats to stay warm or resort to using alternate heating methods to cut down on costs. The New Year is proving to be no different, with Red Cross chapters responding to numerous home fires in the first week of January already.

Earlier this month, Red Cross disaster workers responded in Stone Mountain, Georgia, where fire destroyed eight apartments, leaving several families homeless. In West Warwick, Rhode Island, fire left 31 people homeless after destroying multiple units in another apartment complex.

The Red Cross offers the following safety tips on how to prevent fires:

  • Have wood and coal stoves, fireplaces, chimneys and furnaces professionally inspected once a year.
  • Never use a stove or oven to heat the home.
  • Never leave portable heaters or fireplaces unattended. 
  • Turn off space heaters or extinguish the fireplace before going to bed or leaving home. 
  • Place a space heater on a hard, level, nonflammable surface. Do not put space heaters on rugs or carpets, near bedding or drapes, and keep children and pets away. Look for a space heater model that shuts off automatically if the heater falls over.
  • When using a fireplace, use a glass or metal screen large enough to catch sparks or rolling logs and keep the fire in the fireplace.
  • Keep all flammable materials such as newspapers, matches, bedding, clothing, carpets and rugs at least three feet away from heat sources such as space heaters, fireplaces and stoves.
  • Smoke alarms save lives. People should:

  • Install smoke alarms on every level of their home, inside bedrooms and outside sleeping areas.
  • Check monthly that smoke alarms are working properly by pushing the test button.
  • Replace batteries in smoke alarms at least once a year.
  • Replace smoke alarms every ten years.
  • Planning for fire emergencies is important. Make sure all household members know two ways to escape from every room of the home, and set up a meeting place outside in case of fire. Practice escaping from the home at least twice a year and at different times of the day. Teach household members to stop, drop and roll if their clothing should catch on fire.

    For more information on what you can do to keep you and your loved ones safe, visit the “Home Fires” section of our website.

    Tags: Fire.
    About the American Red Cross:
    The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies about 40 percent of the nation's blood; teaches skills that save lives; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a not-for-profit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit or, or visit us on Twitter at @RedCross.