These tips offer a healthy reminder to prepare your home and family for a fire emergency.

Two minutes. That’s the average amount of time you have to escape once a fire is detected in your home. According to statistics from the American Red Cross, 60 percent of house-fire deaths occur in homes with no working smoke alarms. With the fall season approaching, now is a good time to check smoke detectors to ensure they are functioning properly and have fresh batteries.

Working alarms and a practiced escape plan are important tools for saving lives in the event of a fire. If possible, everyone should know two ways to escape from each room in your home. Use the two-minute time limit when practicing escape drills, ensuring everyone meets at a predesignated space outside. Also, practice low crawling to avoid smoke inhalation and the stop, drop and roll technique should articles of clothing catch fire.

The most effective way to protect your family and your home is to identify and remove fire hazards. The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) has outlined some problem areas in an average home:

Electrical safety

Between 2007 and 2011, nearly 48,000 electrical fires occurred in the U.S. resulting in 455 deaths, 1,500 injuries and nearly $1.5 billion in property damage. Here are some things to observe:

  • Have all electrical work done by a licensed electrician.
  • Only plug one heat-producing appliance (coffee maker, toaster, space heater) into an outlet at one time.
  • Extension cords are intended for temporary use. Have a qualified electrician add more receptacle outlets to reduce their usage.
  • Use light bulbs that match the recommended wattage on the lamp or appliance.

Clothes dryers

In 2010, nearly 17,000 clothes dryer fires resulted in 51 deaths, 380 injuries and over $230 million in property damage. Here are some things to observe:

  • Once a year, clean out the dryer air duct and vent with a long bristle brush or hire a chimney sweep.
  • Remember to clean out the vent after each load.

Heating equipment

Heating equipment fires accounted for 16 percent of all home fires between 2009 and 2013, and 19 percent of home fire fatalities. Here are some things to observe:

  • Ensure all space heaters and heating equipment are a safe distance from combustible materials.
  • Clean the chimney before lighting the first fire of the season.

Carbon monoxide

This colorless, odorless, poisonous gas is produced by the incomplete burning of various fuels like oil, kerosene, propane and natural gas.

Because carbon monoxide (CO) is odorless, colorless and hard to detect with human senses, many people don’t realize they’ve been exposed. Initial symptoms of low to moderate CO poisoning include headache, fatigue, nausea and dizziness.

CO alarms are very similar in shape and size to smoke detectors and should be installed in the hallway near every separate sleeping area of the home.