Room-by-Room Fire Hotspots

These are the top fire-starters in each room of the house. Keep this room-specific advice in mind to better safeguard your family.

Fire Hotspots Pot On Stove Smoking Illustration
Photo: Bo Lundberg


Top Fire Starter: Food left unattended on the stove

Smart Safeguards

  1. Install the smoke alarm at least 10 feet from cooking appliances to minimize false alarms.
  2. Turn off the stove every time you leave the kitchen. Never leave home if the oven is on or the dishwasher is running.
  3. Wear short or close-fitting sleeves while cooking. Keep children at least 3 feet from the stove at all times.
  4. In the event of a small grease fire, slide a lid over the pan and turn off the burner. Don’t move the pan; leave the lid on until the pan is completely cool.
  5. If faced with an oven fire, keep the door shut and turn off the oven. When in doubt, go outside and call 911.


Top Fire Starter: Cigarettes and candles

Smart Safeguards

  1. Keep cigarettes, lighters, and matches up high in a locked cabinet, out of reach of children.
  2. Don’t smoke in the house. Besides being a fire hazard, it’s unhealthy for children and pets to be around secondhand smoke.
  3. If you do smoke in your home, use a proper ashtray and never smoke while in bed.
  4. Douse cigarette butts, ashes, and matches with water or sand before disposing of them.
  5. Extinguish candles whenever you leave a room.
  6. Keep candles out of the reach of children and pets.
  7. Never burn a candle on or near anything that can catch fire, and always place it on a flat surface so it won’t easily tip over.

Laundry Room

Top Fire Starter: Dryer with a clogged lint trap, a leaking washer

Smart Safeguards

  1. Scrape out your dryer’s lint trap before or after each load of laundry.
  2. Clean the lint from the dryer’s vent pipe every year or more often if you notice that clothes are taking too long to dry, or hire a professional to do it.
  3. Regularly check the dryer’s outdoor vent flap to make sure it’s not blocked by snow, leaves, or debris.
  4. Never leave home when the washing machine or dryer is operating.
  5. Plug appliances directly into the wall, not into an extension cord.


Top Fire Starter: Ash residue in the chimney

Smart Safeguards

  1. Hire a qualified company to clean it every fall.
  2. Keep flammable materials, including furniture and firewood, at least 3 feet from the fireplace.
  3. Use a sturdy screen to prevent sparks from flying into the room.
  4. Allow ashes to cool completely before disposing of them in a nonflammable container kept a safe distance from your home.


Top Fire Starter: Portable or fixed space heaters, woodburning stove, hot-water heater

Smart Safeguards

  1. Install a smoke alarm above the lowest step on the basement stairs to detect smoke before it reaches the ground level.
  2. Keep flammable objects 3 or more feet from heaters.
  3. Turn off space heaters when you leave the room or go to bed.
  4. Never plug a space heater into an extension cord.
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