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  Beep! Waking up to a smoke detector can be a terrifying experience.  A home fire occurs every 86 seconds in the United States, according to the National Fire Protection Association. The following are five of the top fire safety tips:
  1. Cook with caution- Nearly half of all home fires are cooking-related, says the National Fire Protection Association.  And, of these, unattended cooking is the leading factor. So, stay in the kitchen if you're cooking, and, if you have to leave--even for a short time-- be sure to turn off the stove. Other cooking safety tips: stay alert, and avoid cooking if you're sleepy or if you've consumed alcohol; check food regularly; and keep anything that can catch fire away from the stove-top.
  2. Never leave space heaters unattended- Heating systems, especially space heaters and wooden stoves, can easily ignite nearby household items. Keep all space heaters at least three feet from household items.  Turn heaters off before leaving a room or going to sleep. Never leave pets or children unsupervised with a space heater or wooden stove.  In addition to the risk of starting a fire, heaters and stoves pose a danger of burns, as well.
  3. Check your electrical cords-Faulty, cracked or deteriorating electrical cords can cause an electrical fire.  Check all your electrical cords for fraying or other signs of wear, and replace or repair any damage.  Avoid running extension cords across doorways or under carpeting.  And do not overload circuits; plug in only one high-wattage appliance into each receptacle outlet at a time, consider hiring an electrician to add additional circuits or outlets if you need them.
  4. Replace open-flame candles with LED-powered versions-With seasonal decorations covering tabletops and mantles, lighting real candles can be an invitation to disaster.  Instead choose battery-operated candles, like LED versions. They flicker and sometimes even smell like the real thing! If you must have candles blow them out when you leave the room or go to sleep; use candle holders that are sturdy and won't topple; and keep all candles at least 12 inches away from anything that can burn.
  5. Test your smoke detectors-Check batteries at least twice a year (many suggest doing so on daylight savings). Stay safe by following these recommendations for smoke alarm placement; install one inside every bedroom, outside each sleeping area and on every floor in your house, including the basement.
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