fire prevention tips

  1. Avoiding Gas Grill Dangers
  2. Designing a Fire Escape Plan for the Family
  3. Fire Preventions All Over Your Home
  4. Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas
  5. Holiday Safety Planner
  6. Home Fire Safety Checklist
  7. Keep Fire in it's Place
  8. Preparing for a Cold Winter
  9. Seasonal Home Fire Safety Tips
  10. Urban Wild Land Fire Safety Tips
  11. 10 Tips for Fire Safety

Designing A Fire Escape Plan For The Family

The chances of surviving a fire are greater if you are prepared. A fire escape plan is essential to that preparation. Before developing one, be certain you have done everything to prevent a fire.

To create a fire escape plan, do the following.

  • Include the entire family in your preparations.
  • Map out two escape routes from every room.
  • Purchase chain ladders for exiting from above the first floor.
  • Make sure that windows can be quickly opened in the event you must exit a fire.
  • Discuss and agree on what to do with a pet if fire breaks out; you may not have time to save your pet.
  • Designated a place outside the home where family members can meet after escaping from a fire.
  • In a fire, crawl low on the floor with your mouth and noise covered with a cloth or towel until you can exit.
  • Go to your designated meeting place and stay put; DO NOT GO BACK INSIDE.
  • Hold family fire drills, and practice how to exit in case of a fire.

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Fire Prevention All Over Your Home

Most fatal fires are home fires. Take a tour of your home and use this checklist to see how safe your household is from fire.

In the Kitchen

Do cooks stay in the kitchen while cooking?
Unattended cooking is the leading cause of cooking fires.

Is the stove top clean and uncluttered?
Greasy or cluttered stove tops can lead to fires. Clean your stove’s surfaces routinely and keep towels, cooking utensils, food, packaging, recipes, and other flammable objects away from your burners. The oven and broiler should be clean. Greasy buildup or spilled food can catch fire.Yes

Are there oven mitts within easy reach of the stove?
Using oven mitts prevents burns and spilled food that could catch fire.

Is the pan lid within easy reach?
If a pan of food catches fire, slide a lid over the pan to smother the flames, then turn off the burner. Don’t try to carry or move the pan. Leave the lid in place until the pan is cool to the touch. If the fire spreads, leave and call the fire department from outside.

Are your electrical appliances in good condition?
Replace or service any appliance that shows warning signs: gives you a shock when you touch it, gets too hot, or gives off smoke or a smell when in use. Replace frayed or cracked electrical cords.

Are the electrical loads on outlets properly limited?
No more than one heat-producing appliance (toaster, coffeemaker, waffle iron) should be plugged into an outlet.

In Living Areas

If someone in your household smokes do you have large, deep, non-tip ashtrays?
Don’t just dump cigarette butts into a wastebasket. Wet the contents of ashtrays before you empty them. And check your furniture for smoldering butts if someone has been smoking.

Are portable and other space heaters at least 3 feet (1 meter) from anything that can burn?
Turn space heaters off before you go to bed or leave home. Closely supervise children and pets around all heating equipment.

Do you have a sturdy screen on your fireplace?
A heavy metal screen or built-in glass doors helps contain fireplace fires and keep sparks from flying into the room.

Is your chimney clean?
Each year, have your chimney professionally inspected and clean out any creosote deposits. To minimize buildup, burn only dry, seasoned hard wood in fireplaces and wood-burning stoves. And never burn trash in either.

Are matches and lighters out of sight and reach of children?
Matches and lighters should be kept up high and out of sight in a drawer or cabinet, preferably locked, away from the reach of curious children.

Smoke Alarms and Sprinklers

Are there working smoke alarms installed on every floor of your home?
Smoke alarms save lives by warning people about a fire in time to escape. Install smoke alarms on every floor (including the basement) and outside every sleeping area—inside as well if people sleep with their doors closed.

Do all your smoke alarms work?
Test your smoke alarms once a month by pushing the "test" button and replace the batteries once a year (or sooner if an alarm "chirps" to tell you its battery is low). Never borrow batteries from a smoke alarm.

Are your smoke alarms clean?
Vacuum smoke alarms to remove dust. Never paint smoke alarms.

Are your smoke alarms younger than 10 years old?
Nothing lasts forever; smoke alarms lose their sensitivity over time and should be replaced after 10 years.

Do you know that fire sprinklers can be installed in homes?
Automatic fire sprinkler systems control or extinguish fires in less time than it takes for the fire department to arrive. Consider installing them in your home.

Escaping a Fire

Does your household have a home escape plan?
Every household should have one and should physically practice it twice a year.

Are there two ways out of every room?
That includes windows. In a fire, the usual exits may be blocked by smoke or flame. Everyone must know how they would get out if their primary escape route was blocked.

Workshops, Storage Areas, and Outdoors

If you have security bars on your windows, do they have quick-release devices?
Make sure doors and door locks, security bars, and storm windows as well can be opened quickly and easily from the inside by all members of the household.

Are flammable liquids stored safely?
Never use or bring gasoline in an outside shed or detached garage—in small quantities in safety cans, labeled and approved for gasoline storage. Always store paint and other flammable liquids in their original, labeled containers with tight-fitting lids. Use and store flammable liquids far away from appliances, heaters, pilot lights, and other sources of heat or flame.

Are fuses and circuit breakers the right size?
Never replace a fuse or circuit breaker with one that exceeds the circuit’s amperage rating. And never replace a fuse with a penny or other conductive material.

Are outdoor power supplies safe?
Outdoor receptacles should be weatherproof and protected by a ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs).

Do you have a working portable fire extinguisher?
Install your extinguisher on a wall away from your stove, near a door, and out of children’s reach. Check your extinguishers once a month, following manufacturer’s instructions.

Related Sites
This document was last updated on September 26, 1999.

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Home Fire Safety Checklist

Is Your Home Fire safe?

Please take a few minutes to walk through your house with this fire safety checklist. Keep it handy and check your home regularly!

Smoke Detectors

  • placed near bedrooms
  • on every floor
  • batteries checked every 6 months
  • away from air vents

Electrical Wiring

  • replaced if frayed or cracked
  • not under rugs, over nail or in high traffic areas
  • outlets not overloaded
  • outlets cool to the touch, not hot
  • outlets have cover plates and no exposed wiring

Electrical Space Heaters

  • plugged directly into wall sockets, not extension cords
  • unplugged when not in use

Kerosene Heaters

  • used only where approved by local authorities
  • filled only with K-1 kerosene, never gasoline or camp stove fuel
  • only refuel outdoors
  • only refueled when cool

Wood Stoves and Fireplaces

  • used only with seasoned wood, never green wood, artificial logs or trash
  • protected by screens
  • interiors, hearths and chimneys cleaned regularly

All Alternate Heaters

  • used only in well-ventilated rooms
  • cannot be easily knocked over
  • never used to dry clothing or other items
  • at a safe distance from curtains and furniture

Home Escape Plan

  • practiced every six months
  • emergency numbers, whistle and flashlight near telephone
  • outside meeting place identified

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Keep Fire In It's Place

Safe America

With winter approaching, the hot rays of the sun will give way to the comforting warmth of manmade fires. Some may have an undesired effect. The National Fire Prevention Association has designated the first week of October as Fire Prevention Week and offers safety tips to prevent almost two million fires each year.

  1. Smokers - do not smoke when medicated, sleepy or when consuming alcohol; use deep, sturdy ashtrays; keep smoking materials from children and store matches in a non-breakable container; install a smoke detector in all areas where you commonly smoke.
  2. Get rid of newspapers, rubbish, old clothes and oily rags.
  3. When drying clothes, make sure they hang a safe distance from stoves, heaters and other sources of fire.
  4. Use flameproof cleaning products, or substitute nonflammable products for flammable if possible.
  5. Look for warning signs of electrical fires: dimming or flickering lights, hot switch plates, worn electrical cords, light bulbs close to walls or curtains.
  6. Use only certified fuses.
  7. Select noncombustible or fire-resistant roofing material.
  8. Store firewood well away from home structures.
  9. Keep dead vegetation at least 1200 feet from your house.

 The Safe America Foundation is a non-profit organization dedicated to injury prevention and the practice of good safety habits through the distribution of safety products and innovative educational programs. For more information call: 770-218-0071 or email:

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Seasonal Home Fire Safety Tips

Each season presents its own unique home fire safety concerns. In winter, you depend heavily on your heating appliances. Remember:

  • Keep your furnace clean and check that the pilot light is working.
  • If you use a space heater, keep it away from combustible materials.
  • Make sure the wiring is sound.
  • Have all alternate heating sources such as a wood stove examined by an expert to make sure they are functioning properly.
  • Do not use the over for heating.
  • Clean and check fireplaces and chimneys regularly.

A holiday Christmas tree is a source of joy; but if you're not careful, it can also lead to a fire. Remember:

  • Buy a tree whose needles haven't dried out.
  • Place the tree away from any heat source such as a space heater or fireplace.
  • Keep the tree away from exits.
  • Buy consumer-inspected Christmas tree lights, and do not overload the circuit with wiring.
  • Turn off the tree lights when you go to bed; never leave them on when you're not home.
  • Discard the tree as soon as the holidays are over, and even sooner if it starts to dry out.

Summer is the time for outdoor barbecues; and it's also a time that places heavy demands on appliances that cool the house. Remember:

  • When using window air conditioning units, take care not to overload circuitry.
  • Have the units serviced by a technician at the beginning of the season.
  • When barbecuing, keep charcoal burners at a safe distance from the house and from anything else that's combustible.
  • Avoid using high-flame charcoal burning fluids.
  • Don't wear loose-fitting clothing while cooking any time of the year.

From U.S. Fire Administration

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Urban Wild Land Fire Safety Tips

More and more of us are building houses in woodland areas where forest fires pose a danger. Although the recent Oakland Hills, CA, fire reminded us of his threat, no part of the country is immune to the problem.

If you choose to construct a house in a wooded area, remember:

  • Build with fire-retardant materials from the roof on down.
  • Make sure your lot is properly cleared of dead brush and trees and any other natural combustibles.
  • Grow trees and bushes at a safe distance from the house; prune them regularly.

If an urban wildfire threatens your home:

  • Don't wait until the last minute to get out; give yourself plenty of time so there is still an available exit route.
  • Take only what you can safely carry with you.
  • Make sure you know how to call for emergency assistance in your area, and be sure you can provide accurate directions to your home.

From U.S. Fire Administration

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10 Tips for Fire Safety

  1. Install smoke alarms Smoke alarms save lives by warning you about a fire while there's time to escape. Install alarms on every floor of your home, including the basement, and outside each sleeping area-inside as well, if you sleep with the door closed-and test them once a month. Smoke alarms lose their sensitivity over time. Replace alarms 10 or more years old.
  2. Automatic home fire sprinkler system Consider installing an automatic home fire sprinkler system in your home. Sprinklers can contain and even extinguish a home fire in less time than it takes the fire department to arrive.
  3. Plan your escape If there's a fire, you'll have to get out fast, so be prepared. Draw a floor plan of your home, marking two ways out of each room. Go over the plan with your household so that everyone knows how to escape if there's a fire, then physically walk through each escape route. Decide on an outside meeting place in front of your home where everyone will meet after they've escaped. Practice your escape plan by holding a fire drill twice a year.
  4. In a fire, crawl low under smoke Smoke and heat rise, so during a fire there's cleaner, cooler air near the floor. Always try another exit if you encounter smoke when you're escaping a fire. But if you have to escape through smoke, crawl on your hands and knees with your head 1 to 2 feet (30 to 60 centimeters) above the floor.
  5. Smokers' safety In North America, more fatal fires start from smoking than from any other cause. Don't smoke in bed or when you're drowsy. Give smokers large, deep, non-tip ashtrays, and soak butts and ashes before dumping them. If someone's been smoking in your home, check on and around furniture, including under cushions, for smoldering cigarettes.
  6. Cook safely Always stay with the stove when cooking, or turn off burners if you walk away. Wear clothes with snug-or rolled up-sleeves when you cook to avoid catching your clothes on fire. Turn pot handles inward where you can't bump them and children can't grab them, and enforce a "kid-free zone" 3 feet (1 meter) around your stove when you cook.
  7. Keep matches and lighters out of sight Keep matches and lighters away from children. Lock them up high and out of reach, and use only child-resistant lighters. Teach young children to tell you if they find matches or lighters; teach older children to bring matches and lighters to an adult before they fall into young hands.
  8. Use electricity safely Know the warning signs of problems for electrical appliances: flickering lights, smoke or odd smells, blowing fuses, tripping circuit breakers or frayed or cracked cords. Check carefully any appliances that display a warning sign, and repair or replace. Don't run extension cords across doorways or where they can be walked on or pinched by furniture.
  9. Space heaters Keep portable and other space heaters at least 3 feet (1 meter) away from anything that can burn including you-and turn heaters off when you leave home or go to bed. Have chimneys and furnaces inspected by a professional at the start of each heating season.
  10. Stop, drop, and roll-cool and call If your clothes catch fire, stop-don't run. Drop gently to the ground, cover your face with your hands, and roll over and over or back and forth to smother the flames. Cool the burn with cool water for 10-15 minutes. Call for help.

Related sites
This document was last updated on September 26, 1999. 

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