The average cost of a house fire is $45,109, according to the U.S. Fire Administration. This number is for homes without a sprinkler system. While it is not the cost of a complete rebuild, $45,000 is nothing to ignore. Studies have shown that most home fires can be prevented.

The House

Your home itself can be a hazard, especially if it is older. Outdated wiring or overloaded circuits are potential dangers. Chimneys that have not been cleaned or inspected can also cause fires. If you have lived in your home a long time, you may want to have an electrician look at your wiring and make sure everything is in working order.

The Kitchen

The kitchen is the place where the majority of house fires begin. One reason for that statistic is the stove. People lay plastic or cloth items too close to a hot burner or accidentally turn on the wrong burner. Grease that pops out of a skillet or pan can also start fires. Here are a few tips to avoid kitchen fires:

  • Keep everything off of the stovetop except for the pan you are using.

  • Wipe down the burners before turning them on.

  • Keep the oven clean.

  • Never leave the stove unattended.

  • Set a timer so that you don’t forget about foods in the oven.

  • Keep electrical cords away from the stove.

  • Keep a small fire extinguisher in the kitchen.

Other Hazards

Pets and electrical cords do not mix, especially if you have a young animal. Puppies can chew on electrical cords just enough to leave the wires bare. They can also get caught up in cords and knock off lamps. If the bulb is hot and breaks, it can start a fire.

Do not leave open flames unattended. This includes candles, cigarettes or fireplaces. Make sure that you only use light bulbs the way they are intended. For example, some lamps and decorative lighting limits you to 40-watt bulbs. If you use a higher-watt bulb, you risk starting a fire. The same is true for holiday lights or for lighted items that are not to be connected to an extension cord.

Be careful with space heaters. Keep items away from the hot area and allow plenty of room for air to circulate. Space heaters can be a great source of heat, especially in older or drafty homes, but they can also be dangerous if not used properly.

Don’t forget about your computer and other electronics. They generate heat when they are in use. When a computer malfunctions, it can become a fire hazard, especially if does not cool correctly. The safest action is to unplug everything that you can when it is not in use. This is an important habit to get into whether you are leaving the house or going to bed for the night.

You can prevent costly home fires and protect your belongings by following these guidelines. Your homeowner’s insurance will be less expensive without a claim and you won’t lose irreplaceable treasures.