A family gathers by a fire to bond

How to Prevent House Fires

Updated April 1, 2024 . AmFam Team

Your home is the culmination of your hard work, and you want to give it as much protection as possible. From maintenance to home insurance, you work diligently to make your household safe and secure for your family. But are you taking all the right precautions when it comes to fire safety around the house?

Home fire prevention begins with fire safety education and some basic home fire safety measures. Remembering to blow out candles when you leave a room and brushing up on smoke detector basics are great places to start, but what about some of the less commonly known risks for homeowners? Things like dirty rags from DIY projects, overloaded extension cords or hidden creosote build-up in your chimney.

According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), a home fire occurs every 93 seconds in the U.S. In 2019, local fire departments responded to 1.3 million fires, totaling nearly $15 billion in property damage. In fact, as Americans spend more time at home this year, insurance agents across the country are seeing a dramatic spike in fire-related claims.

So whether you’re heating the home, cooking or simply powering electronic devices, this article is for you. Below, we’ll cover fire precautions at home for each room and list some common fire hazards as seen by national statistics and American Family’s own claims department.

If Your Home or Apartment Has Sprinklers

Luxury homes, apartments and many types of rentals tend to use sprinkler systems in their units for loss prevention or due to requirements in local fire code. Be sure you’re following some key precautions if you have a sprinkler system in your home.

Don’t hang clothes, bags or other objects on your sprinklers. While sprinkler systems may appear strong and industrial, they are actually quite sensitive. At the core of the sprinkler system is a glass bulb that’s designed to break when it reaches dangerous temperatures. If the system breaks, for whatever reason, the sprinkler system will go off in the unit. This is a good thing if there really is a fire — but not so great if there’s no fire and the sprinkler system drenches your computer, TV or other electronics.

Don’t block sprinklers with things like large pieces of furniture, televisions and boxes. Obstructing a sprinkler means the sprinkler can’t do its job in the event of an emergency and, in some cases, an electrical object near a sprinkler can raise its temperature and set it off. An easy way to ruin some valuable possessions and land in hot water with your landlord!

Get Smart Home Protection

Making smart choices when it comes to fire prevention and protection may be the highest priority for a homeowner, but it’s also a top priority for some smart home tech companies looking to keep you and your home safe at all times. By adopting smart home technology to your traditional fire protection gadgets you can keep tabs on your home wherever you are, and earn some great insurance discounts to boot.

Smart smoke and heat detectors. Advanced heat, smoke and carbon monoxide alarms that notify you — and emergency dispatch — of dangers in the home are some simple, modern and effective ways to mitigate or avoid home fire loss. They connect to phones to alert you of any abnormalities and, in some cases, can integrate with home air flow systems to shut down operation if smoke or carbon monoxide is detected.

Smart stovetop burners. Blending smart tech with analog systems are the smart burners developed for the purpose of preventing cooking fires. These burners replace conventional electric coil elements with burners that limit the temperature from reaching levels that can ignite most cooking oils.

Smart outlets. Think you forgot to turn the coffee pot off before you left? With smart outlets, that’s ok! Using an app on your phone, you’ll have control of the outlet — and therefore, the coffee pot — at your fingertips.

Be sure to connect with your American Family Insurance agent today to discuss fire prevention, safety and available options for smart home security.

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