I often like to think that disasters are always outside of my home. If there is a disaster, I can stay home and avoid any nasty side effects.

While our homes can protect us from outside disasters, there are disasters that can occur inside your home. And if you are not prepared, these disasters can be devastating.

FEMA estimates that more than 2,500 people die every year because of home fires. This loss of life in addition to loss of literally everything you own has given me nightmares since I was a child.

The terrifying aspect of fire is how quickly it moves. The flames and smoke will tear through a home in a matter of minutes, leveling it with no survivors to be found. There is no time to gather your valuables or most treasured items. There is no time to call 911 before you leave. There is no time for anything if you want to get out alive.

Thankfully, most home fires can be prevented.

Many home fires begin in the kitchen. It seems silly to say, but operating stoves and ovens is quite the responsibility. Cooking with hot items is not for children. Teach your children from a young age to avoid the stove and the oven. Avoid cooking when you are drowsy, and especially if you are drunk or under the influence. Make sure to not wear big, loose clothing when cooking with a flame. Such items can easily catch fire.

If you are cooking outside of your home, say on a grill. Make sure your grill is away from the home or any overhangs that could easily catch fire. Keep natural debris like leaves and branches at least 10 feet away from the grill site.

Many home fires are started by cigarettes. I’ll save you the lecture on how bad smoking is for you and leave you with some safety tips. Smoke outside- for the sake of your home and those around you. And let’s be honest, smoking inside will destroy your home.

When you are done smoking, make sure to completely put the cigarette out. You should never throw away a cigarette away without completely putting it out. For peace of mind, run cigarette butts under water to completely extinguish. And just like with cooking in the kitchen, do not smoke while drowsy or under the influence. Smoking in bed is extremely dangerous even if the movies make it look sexy.

Many home fires are electrical. Keep a close eye on wires that are frayed. Damaged wires are a fire waiting to happen and it is often ignored. Try not to overload an electrical outlet. While this is extremely tempting to plug in as many things as possible for the Christmas lights, too many plugs in one outlet can spark and set a fire. And your Christmas tree is just kindling to spread the fire.

Another big hazard is candles. Get a candle warmer instead of using an actual flame and you can still get the same effect.

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