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Almost all house fires are caused by instances that could have been prevented. It is important to recognize the hazards around your house and the steps that you can take to avoid a potential tragedy. One of the most common places where fires occur are in the kitchen. Between the oven, the stove, and the microwave, there are plenty of opportunities for a dangerous fire. Following these simple steps can dramatically reduce your chances of a kitchen fire:

- Never leave the kitchen while frying, grilling, or broiling food. A fire only needs a few seconds to start. Even if you leave the kitchen for just a short period of time, turn off the stove or have an adult watch the stove while you're gone.

- Be sure to use microwave-safe containers. Before putting any sort of container in the microwave, be sure to check that it is microwave-safe. Some materials that aren't safe to microwave include Styrofoam, metal, and melamine. If you aren't sure whether it's safe or not, it's better to not use it than risk a dangerous fire. When microwaving, be sure that the container is made of glass or porcelain because these are the safest materials for the microwave.

- Always wear short, tight-fitting or rolled-up sleeves when cooking. The materials in clothes are some of the most flammable. When cooking, your hands and arms are dangerously close to the heat, and even just a little spark can cause your shirt to go up in flames. If your sleeves are out of the way, it's nearly impossible for this to happen, and you could prevent a fire altogether. 

Fireplaces and woodstoves are another potentially dangerous aspect of the house that can easily cause a fire. Be sure to follow these steps to reduce your chances:  

- Make sure the fire is completely out before leaving the vicinity. Before leaving the fireplace or woodstove, make sure that there are no sparks or small flames still visible. Though they may seem small and insignificant, they can cause the fireplace or woodstove to flame up again. An unsupervised flame can cause a dangerous house fire.

- Never burn trash or paper. Even though it may seem harmless, it's important not to burn paper and trash. When burnt, these materials fly up and could land on a flammable surface in your house. It may seem easier to just throw your trash in the fire instead of throwing it away, but it's much easier to take out the trash than put out a house fire.

- Annually check chimneys and woodstove pipes. Chimneys and woodstove pipes are essential to the proper operation of fireplaces and woodstoves. If these aren't working properly, then they can easily cause a fire. The exhaust needs somewhere to escape and if there's no where for the exhaust to go, then it can easily catch fire and engulf your house in flames.

General fire safety around your home is important in preventing fires as well. Follow these steps to enhance your chances of preventing a fire:

- Never use the range or oven to heat your house. It is extremely dangerous to keep the over or range on if it isn't being used for cooking. Having an open flame like that in the house is never safe. It's easy to forget that you left one of these appliances on, and leaving them unattended could result in a deadly house fire. There are plenty of other safer ways to keep your house warm.

- Avoid using lighted candles. Even though they are pleasing to look at and put off a good scent, candles can be very dangerous. Sparks can easily fly out of the candle and land on a flammable surface. When a candle starts to get low, the glass has a high chance of cracking or even breaking, causing the flame to be exposed to the open air. Try using either scented wax warmers or incense sticks instead of lighted candles.

- Store matches and lighters out of children's reach and sight. Fire seems like a cool and entertaining activity to kids, but it is extremely dangerous if they get ahold of it. In order to prevent this from happening, be sure to store matches and lighters where the child can't see or reach them. Kids aren't responsible enough to be playing with fire, so it's best to just not give them access to it at all.

If you follow these simple steps, you can prevent a potentially deadly house fire. In addition to insuring your home, The Shropshire Agency is committed to helping you and your loved ones stay safe.
Posted 8:00 AM  View Comments

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