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
Is the stove top clean and uncluttered? Greasy or cluttered stove tops can lead to
fires. Clean your stoves 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.
Dont 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
In Living Areas
If someone in your household smokes do
you have large, deep, non-tip ashtrays? Dont 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
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
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
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
areainside 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
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 garagein 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
Are fuses and circuit breakers the right
size? Never replace a fuse or circuit breaker with
one that exceeds the circuits 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 childrens reach. Check
your extinguishers once a month, following manufacturers
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.
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.
Get rid of newspapers, rubbish, old clothes and oily rags.
When drying clothes, make sure they hang a safe distance from stoves, heaters and other sources of fire.
Use flameproof cleaning products, or substitute nonflammable products for flammable if possible.
Look for warning signs of electrical fires: dimming or flickering lights, hot switch plates, worn electrical cords, light bulbs close to walls or curtains.
Use only certified fuses.
Select noncombustible or fire-resistant roofing material.
Store firewood well away from home structures.
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: firstname.lastname@example.org
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The information on the Loyola University Health System
(LUHS) Web site is for educational purposes only. It is presented in summary form in order to impart general information relating to certain diseases, ailments, physical conditions and their treatments. The information provided through the LUHS Web site should not be used for diagnosing or treating a health problem or a disease, nor is it a substitute for professional care. Should you have any health-care related questions or suspect you have a health problem, you should consult your health care provider.