House fires are the No. 1 disaster threat to homeowners. Between 350,000 and 400,000 house fires occur each year in the United States. Unlike natural disasters such as tornadoes and floods, house fires are often preventable.



National Fire Prevention Week started on Oct. 7 and ends on Oct. 13.



The following fire prevention steps can help keep your home and family safe:



Avoid the sun. Flammable products such as paint thinner and lacquer can be ignited by heat sources around your home even by sunlight streaming through a window. Always keep flammable products in a cool, dark place and in their original containers.



Control candles. Keep lit candles away from materials that could easily catch fire, such as curtains. Never light candles when you're feeling drowsy accidentally falling asleep plays a role in 12 percent of all candle fires. Opt for battery-operated candles if you want a little bedtime glow.



Enjoy your fireplace safely. The National Fire Protection Association recommends making sure your fireplace has a sturdy screen to prevent sparks from flying into the room. Also, allow fireplace and wood/pellet/coal stove ashes to cool before disposing in a metal container.



Keep your stove company. Never leave the kitchen when you have food cooking on the stove. If you must leave the kitchen for any reason, remove the pan from the heat and turn the burner off.



Care for your cords. Electrical cords can produce heat, so make sure they have room to "breathe." Never trap them tightly between a piece of furniture and the wall or run them under a rug. Check the condition of cords regularly. Frayed wires or those damaged by pets are potential fire starters.