You probably have enacted a lot of measures and behaviors to reduce the risk of fire in your home, as everybody should. You’ve made sure the batteries in your smoke detector are working; you extinguish candles before leaving a room and are wary of exceptionally flammable materials. All of these are great things to do, and you should keep doing them! Unfortunately, none of these things can prevent an electrical fire from occurring in your home.

Many homeowners and renters have no idea that they are at risk for an electrical fire until their possessions are going up in flames. It’s easy to forget about the fact that we are surrounded by electrical currents every day of our lives, even though we use them all the time. We don’t think about the potential dangers that our much-loved appliances and even reading lamps can cause, but we should. Thinking ahead can prevent electrical fires from ever occurring, and safeguarding your home against them requires very little effort. Below are three of the most common causes of household electrical fires, as well as tips to prevent them from wreaking havoc in your life.

1). Be mindful of your outlets.
Overloaded power outlets are one of the leading causes of electrical fires in American homes. In this high-tech world of ours it can be all too easy to forget that the sources of power in our homes do have a limit. Do not plug an excessive amount of devices into a single outlet. If you find yourself pressed for places to plug in your appliances or anything else, do yourself a huge favor and get a surge protector and power strip. Many power strips on the market come with an internal overload protection measure that shuts off the power strip before it becomes overloaded-which can happen in the event of a power surge.

Under no circumstances should you ever force plugs into outlets, or remove the grounding plug (the third prong on some appliances) to make it fit into an outlet.

2). Don’t mess around with faulty appliances.
Does a specific appliance or device always seem to give you problems? Is it frequently the cause of blown fuses, tripped circuits or even electric shocks? If this is the case for any electrical item in your home, you should unplug it and have it inspected right away. The item might not be safe to have around anymore. Repair or replace appliances that give you these problems. It might sting to shell out the cash for a new fridge, for example, but it sure stings a lot less than the resulting damage of a preventable fire.

3). Inspect your house’s wiring as well as individual wires/cords.
While checking the quality of your home’s internal wiring should always be left up to the professionals, you can do a visual check of the cords and wires of items that you use in your home. Frayed and otherwise damaged cords-whether they belong to a stove or a simple hair dryer-can cause a fire. Have your home’s wiring inspected every ten years. Safely discard items that have sustained damage to the cord.

When it comes to having your home’s wiring inspected, you should always opt for licensed and certified professionals with a stellar reputation. Don’t try and save a few dollars by trusting someone “with experience” but no actual certification with this important job.