According to the U.S. Fire Administration, nearly 3,500 Americans perish in fires each year and nearly 18,000 are injured. Many of these fires occur in the home and could have been prevented.

Here are five tips to help ensure your home is safe from fires:

1. Have a Working Smoke Alarm

Studies show that homeowners with a functioning smoke alarm are twice as likely to survive in the event of a fire. Ideally, equip every floor and bedroom in your home with a smoke alarm to maximize detection. Teach your children how to respond to a smoke alarm if they are home alone. Have them demonstrate how to get to safety. You can purchase smoke alarms at most home goods stores or online. Be sure to test the alarms every month and replace the batteries at least once a year.

2. Install Fire Safety Sprinklers

When used with smoke alarms, fire safety sprinklers greatly increase the chance of survival. They can put out small flare-ups and prevent larger fires from spreading. Most sprinklers are available at low cost and can increase your home’s worth and help you save on homeowner’s insurance.

3. Be Careful in the Kitchen

Keep dish rags, cloths, and other flammable materials away from ovens and stovetops. Avoid distractions when cooking, and keep an eye on all active burners and ovens.

4. Keep an Eye on Electrical Appliances

Follow the manufacturer’s instructions when operating appliances and portable electronics. Use a surge protector to prevent circuit overload. Keep cords and cables arranged neatly away from high traffic areas. If you notice sparking, unusual sounds or smells, turn off and unplug all affected appliances. If you have small children, block all outlets with safety caps.

5. Set Up Escape Routes

Map out at least three ways to vacate your home in the event of a fire. Keep all paths, especially major hallways and lobbies, clear of obstruction. Even small objects like toys can cause someone to trip or fall when trying to escape. Practice using these escape routes with your family at least twice a year, as recommended by the American Red Cross.

With proper knowledge and preparation, preventing home fires is easy and can be a fun activity for the whole family. Our Brooklyn home health care agency wishes you another safe, fire-free year.