Most of us, don't like fire: it might keep Smokey the Bear employed, but it's dangerous, damaging, and - in certain cases - fatal. Unfortunately, it's a very legit reality, particularly inside the home.


Candles, stove tops, and overused electrical outlets, fire hazards exist around every corner of the living room, the bathroom, the bedroom, and the kitchen. While this is the bad news, the good news is - hazards and all - fire is often preventable, preventable - that is - when vigilance is practiced.


Smoke Detectors: As essential as wearing a seatbelt in a car, every house must have working smoke detectors. Not only will these warn you of life threatening smoke, but they alarm you before the fire gets out of hand (and you can still get out of the house). For this reason, smoke detectors - and their maintenance - is extremely important. They should be tested on a monthly basis, fresh batteries should be inserted every year, and they should be cleaned to remove dust, debris and pet hair. Performing proper maintenance on your smoke detector will help it do its job, and leave you feeling safe and secure.


Have an Escape Plan: Fire drills are often performed in school, hospitals and work places, so why wouldn't they be practiced inside the home. In houses with people who need assistance - such as children and the elderly - fire drills are particularly important. Teach your family the quickest way to exit your house and educate them on what not to do, such as going back to retrieve a favorite toy. It's also important to teach everyone where the closest fire extinguisher is, and how to use it.


Don't temp fate: One of the best ways to keep your home fire free is to monitor things that might cause it. For instance, if you are a smoker, never smoke in bed and never leave cigarettes ignited or unmanned. For those who enjoy cooking, remember to turn the stove off and keep things - such as paper towels - away from the burners. It's also important not to use frayed or old electrical cords, and to not overload any one circuit. For those who perform a task such as sealing the deck, don't dispose of rags with flammable material in hot trash cans: spontaneous combustion is possible. Finally, never put metal in the microwave, and never allow children - or adults for that matter - to play with matches.


Call for Help: Many of us may moonlight as fireman, at least in our own heads. If there is a fire, we believe we can put it out. This might be the case….sometimes. However, fires can easily spread and get out of hand, ultimately costing you your life. If a fire appears to spread rapidly or simply won't be put out by a fire extinguisher, call 911. The fire department is trained to deal with fire and knows things you might not. A grease fire, for example, can't be put out by water. That will only make it worse.


Know the basics: In elementary school, most of us watched our fair share of public service announcements concerning fire. But, as adults, watching public service announcements is probably replaced by nighttime dramas and football games. Even so, the lessons we learned shouldn't be forgotten: remember to feel a door for heat before opening it, and to crawl on your hands and knees - while taking short breaths - if you encounter smoke. In the event that you are trapped in a room, hang a towel or a blanket outside the window- this will notify the firemen as to your whereabouts - and always remember the three key words of fire safety: if your clothes ignite, stop, drop, and roll.