There are many fire hazards in the world, and according to my neighbor, a fireman, burning candles in your house is one of the worst. Apparently candles, especially the small votive ones can be easily forgotten. As the burn unnoticed wisps of close by fabric may blow over them and ignite. Also in households with dogs, cats and small children the candles are sometimes knocked over. Candles sometimes get so hot they explode their holders. I had a candle than broke my favorite crystal candelabra, a housewarming gift. It was my fault. I left the dinner table with the candles burning. One candle had melted low enough to be in the well of the holder and the high heat caused the crystal holder to crack.

My fireman friend told me some candles are not even designed to be burnt! They are apparently for decorative purposes only. I would not have believed him except that I received just such a candle the following Halloween as a gift. I ended up throwing it out. I couldn't in good conscience give it to anyone who might burn it accidently. The candle did say it was for decorative purposes only, but the print was very small. I could see especially an elderly person assuming candles are for burning, and lighting it. Another cool gift candle I received was dark red like dragon's blood and came with a piece of parchment wrapped around it. On the parchment were instructions and admonishments to burn the candle safely, outside, in a contained area due to the intense high heat. It was apparently some kind of witch candle used for rituals I didn't know about. I ended up tossing that candle as well. It's a shame really because candles can save energy if you use them instead of electric lights.

Another common cause of house fires are blocked chimneys, and chimneys that catch fire. It is a good idea to have your chimney cleaned once a season before use. Hire a professional. Few things cost as much as your house, and few things destroy it more completely than a fire. The cost to have a professional clean out the chimney will give you piece of mind. Change the batteries in your smoke alarms once every six months to ensure they are in working order. If you set it up for January and June 1st, it will be easy to remember to do.

Some other common fire hazards are grease, oil, paint and fumes. Keep your kitchen free of grease. Wipe down counters and appliances whenever you do your dishes. This will keep grease from building up. Use a cleanser with a grease cutting formula. Keep baking soda handy to smother a grease fire. NEVER throw water on a grease fire! It will make things much much worse! If the fire is in a pot on the stove cover the pot with its lid if possible. Don't attempt to move a grease fire outside, not even a small one. It will be too hot for you to handle. You may end up burning yourself or destroying your house in the process of trying to move it.

When you cook keep your hair tied back, roll your sleeves up or wear short sleeves. Keep a small fire extinguisher in your kitchen. You can keep a larger one in your garage or by your fireplace. Check the date on the extinguisher to ensure it is still in working order. Oil, paint, and gasoline are also highly flammable. Use caution when storing them.

Keep areas around your toaster oven and microwave oven clear. If they get too encased they can heat up the areas around them. If you have a fire in your microwave, keep the door shut and unplug it. Have the unit serviced before you use it again. I remember once I had microwave popcorn start a fire in my oven. It trashed the whole unit!

Unplug appliances when not in use. Not only will this make them less of a hazard but you will save a little on your electric bill. Almost every appliance these days has a built in digital clock. Chances are you don't need it if you wear a watch or have a smart phone, or a battery operated clock, so the appliances are draining your utility bill for no reason.

I had a friend who was so pleased with the amount of heat her "ceramic" heater kicked out. I went to the store where she bought it, and noticed on the box the unit was NOT RECOMMENDED for indoor use! Use a space heater as designed. Keep it three feet away from anything flammable and don't leave it unattended. Don't use extension cords with space heaters. In fact, use extension cords sparingly. With the advent of personal computers and home entertainment centers the need for electrical outlets tripled or quadrupled in a relatively short period of time. Few houses built before 1980 will have enough outlets to satisfy the modern consumer. If it isn't your house you may not have the option of installing another breaker. Still, it isn't wise to overload the system. For what you can, stick to unplugging and plugging in extra items. Some overload signals include: dimming lights when an appliance goes on, fuses blowing frequently or shrinking TV picture.

Beware of buying used lamps or lighting fixtures. If you do, repair or replace frayed electrical cords. Try to avoid extension cords. If you feel an extension cord is necessary, make sure that it is not frayed or worn. Do not run it under carpet or around doorways. I'll close with the other main cause of house fires: smoking cigarettes. My former husband used to wake up to smoke, and fall asleep while he was smoking! Beds and blankets can be very flammable, and the smoke inhalation can kill you even before the flames erupt. Try never to smoke in bed if you can help it. He burnt a lot of holes in our living room carpet as well.