Fire safety tips should be practiced often and continuously. But what are the best ways to protect your home over time? We asked the pros and they answered. In addition to having a working smoke alarm (and changing batteries once a year), they suggested smart tips for stopping potential fire-friendly situations before they start.

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 from the NFPA: 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: 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, the NFPA says; consider hiring an electrician to add additional circuits or outlets if you need them.

3: Test your smoke detectors.

Jolene’s smoke detector saved her from harm. Test smoke detectors and check batteries at least twice a year (many suggest doing so on daylight savings). Stay safe by following the NFPA’s 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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