Where There's Smoke, There's Fire

How your family would react if your home were to catch fire is an unpleasant -- but necessary -- thought. Everyone , down to even the smallest member, should be accounted for when educating the family about what to do in a fire. {relatedarticles}First, it's important to understand safety procedures. Smoke detectors should be installed in sleeping areas and on every floor of your home. Many models use lithium batteries, which can last up to 10 years, so that might be your best bet. If not, test battery-powered models once a month. A good rule of thumb is to replace batteries every time you spring forward or fall back for daylight savings time. Most home fires start as a result of cooking or heating equipment, and smoking is the leading cause of fire deaths.

Take precautions to turn off heating elements and keep ashtrays, lighters and cigarettes away from children and anything flammable. Make an escape plan for your family, including at least two ways to exit every room safely. {relatedarticles}Be sure exits are clear of furniture, toys or other clutter, and enlist your family to keep them that way. Having a fire drill a few times per year can help everyone understand the right ways to get out of the house if a fire starts. Grills, chimneys, candles and space heaters are other "hot spots" in the home. Designate a "kid-free zone" around them and educate children about their dangers.