How to (Not) Set Your House on Fire

Pop quiz, Hotshot: How do you emerge unscathed from a house fire? 

taking notes on how to (not) set your house on fire

You don’t let it happen in the first place.

It’s common sense, people! The easiest way to avoid an emergency is prevention. These common sense tips will make it easier to avoid setting your house on fire, and give you a head start in case flames ever get out of hand.

In the kitchen

Per the National Fire Protection Agency (NFPA), close to 50% of house fires start in the kitchen.

  1. Keep oil and other flammable items away from stoves, mixers, and microwaves. 
  2. Keep a fire extinguisher within access.
  3. Ensure your cooking equipment and utensils are clean. A few breadcrumbs in the toaster or a little grease on the stovetop seem pretty innocuous, but they’re a potential fire hazard. 

In the bedrooms

“Fried asleep.”

An interesting obituary. Don’t make it yours.

  1. Ensure your electric blanket has an auto-off feature. 
  2. Ensure your mattress is flame-retardant. 
  3. Use flame-retardant covers.

In the living room

Home is hearth; we have to keep warm despite our flammability!

  1. Don’t leave flammable items near the furnace or fireplace, ever. 
  2. Keep it clean. 
  3. And when using the fireplace, keep the glass window open and the metal screen shut so that embers don’t fly out.

Living room with a fireplace? Love it. 
A mirror on the mantle? Stunning.
Is that a fire hazard? You know it is.

Why? The mirror attracts people to stand too close to the fire! Get a painting… without any small details.

In the laundry room

Lint is extremely flammable. And even washing machines can cause fires.

  1. Keep the vents of the machines in the laundry room clean to avoid overheating and fires. 
  2. Make sure your wet washed clothes don’t drip water near electric appliances. Water entering the electric sockets can also cause a fire.
  3. Keep your dryer clean. Residual lint can accumulate, overheat, and potentially burn down your house.

In the garage and outside

Whether you have a campfire in your backyard or barbecue parties on the porch, fires can also start outside.

  1. Keep flammable materials (paints, gasoline, etc.) tightly sealed in their original containers. 
  2. Store them in a cool, dry place, away from barbecues, grills, lawnmowers, direct sunlight, children, and pets. 
  3. Don’t be careless with heat on the garden grounds either. Some types of fertilizers contain flammable chemicals, so potting soil can also catch fire. Contain your BBQ coals to keep your dirt inert.

We’re stronger together.

Do you also think the first step of surviving the apocalypse is to laugh about it? You are our people. Let’s run off into the sunset together. Sign up for our monthly emails, bestie.

Other tips

  1. If you spot any exposed/damaged cords and frayed wires, replace them immediately.
  2. If you smell fish for no reason, it could mean there’s an electrical fire brewing in your walls. Call an electrician ASAP.
  3. Keep electric cords away from furniture and rugs. Wires should never run under the rugs.
  4. Don’t crowd a single socket with extension cord overuse. Cap the number of plugs on an outlet at three whenever possible.
  5. Be cautious when you use candles. Don’t leave them unattended. I repeat: never walk away from burning candles. While they are lit, keep papers, clothes, rugs, and tapestries far away from the flame. 
  6. Close your home’s doors at night (leave them unlocked). This can help contain fires that start in one room from entering others. And in case someone needs to escape a fire, unlocked doors will be faster to open. 
  7. Don’t smoke.
    1. If you must smoke, don’t smoke indoors or near flammable items. Make sure cigarette butts are dead out before throwing them away. Putting them in water is disgusting, but it’s a great way to make sure they’re out.
    2. If you absolutely must smoke indoors, always use an ashtray. Never, ever, ever smoke in bed.

There are also lots of ways you can proactively prepare!

No smoking sign with ashtray with nails
Don’t smoke nails, either.

About the Authors

It takes a village! We are researching, writing and fact checking as a family. Collaboration is the name of the game, whether we’re running from a zombie horde or finding the best way to turn a complex concept into a deliciously digestible set of bullet points.

Professional worrier. Mom, entrepreneur. Lifetime student of brain science. Passionate about surviving what's coming (climate change, wtf) and staying as sane as possible. Determined to make the best of the end of the world.