The statistics on home fires are staggering:

In 2008, someone was injured in a home fire every 40 minutes and approximately eight people died in home fires every day. Home fires also accounted for $8.6 billion in property losses last year, according to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA).

As part of National Fire Prevention Week (Oct. 4-10, 2009), NFPA offers these tips for preventing fires in the home:

  • Cooking is the leading cause of home fires. Don’t leave food unattended and if you must leave the kitchen, turn off the stove.
  • Keep children and pets at least three feet away from the stove.
  • Keep lamps, light fixtures and lightbulbs away from anything that can burn, such as bedding, curtains and clothing.
  • Replace cracked and damaged electrical cords.
  • Ask smokers to smoke outside.
  • Have heating equipment and chimneys cleaned and inspected every year.

Finally, and this is a big one, install smoke alarms in your home within 15 feet of every bedroom and on every level of the home. It isn’t just a good idea, it is the law in Illinois, which since 1988 has required that smoke alarms be installed in single- and multi-family residences.

A study by NFPA found that nearly two-thirds of home fire deaths between 2003 and 2006 occurred in homes with no smoke alarms or no working smoke alarms. Make sure your smoke alarms are working by testing them once a month, changing the batteries twice a year and replacing old smoke alarms every 10 years.

Learn more about National Fire Prevention Week and fire safety.