Fire Safety Tips
Plan Ahead! If a fire breaks out in your home, you may have only a few minutes to get out safely once the smoke alarm sounds. Everyone needs to know what to do and where to go if there is a fire.
- MAKE a home escape plan. Draw a map of your home showing all doors and windows. Discuss the Plan with everyone in your home.
- KNOW at least two ways out of every room, if possible. Make sure all doors and windows leading outside open easily.
- HAVE an outside meeting place (like a tree, light pole or mailbox) a safe distance from the home where everyone should meet.
- PRACTICE your home fire drill at night and during the day with everyone in your home, twice a year.
- TEACH children how to escape on their own in case you can’t help them.
- CLOSE the doors behind you as you leave.
If the Alarm Sounds
- If the smoke alarm sounds, GET OUT AND STAY OUT. Never go back inside for people or pets.
- If you have to escape through the smoke, GET LOW AND GO under the smoke to your way out.
- CALL the fire department from outside your home.
- A closed door may slow the spread of smoke, heat, and fire. Install smoke alarms inside every sleeping room and outside each separate sleeping area. Install alarms on every level of the home. Smoke alarms should be interconnected. When one smoke alarm sounds, they all sound.
- According to an NFPA survey, only one of every three American households have actually developed and practiced a home fire escape plan.
- While 71% of Americans have an escape plan in case of a fire, only 47% of those have practiced it.
- One-third of American households who made an estimate thought they would have at least 6 minutes before a fire in their home would become life-threatening. The time available is often less. And only 8% said their first thought on hearing a smoke alarm would be to get out!
Often called the invisible killer, carbon monoxide is an invisible, odorless, colorless gas created when fuels (such as gasoline, wood, coal, natural gas, propane, oil, and methane) burn incompletely. In the home, heating and cooking equipment that burn fuel can be sources of carbon monoxide.
- CO alarms should be installed in a central location outside each sleeping area and on every level of the home and in other locations where required by applicable laws, codes or standards. For the best protection, interconnect all CO alarms throughout the home. When one sounds, they all sound.
- Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for placement and mounting height.
- Choose a CO alarm that is listed by a qualified testing laboratory.
- Call your local fire department’s non-emergency number to find out what number to call if the CO alarm sounds.
- Test CO alarms at least once a month; replace them according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
- If the audible trouble signal sounds, check for low batteries. If the battery is low, replace it. If it still sounds, call the fire department.
- If the CO alarm sounds, immediately move to a fresh air location outdoors or by an open window or door. Make sure everyone inside the home is accounted for. Call for help from a fresh air location and stay there until emergency personnel declare that it is safe to re-enter the home.
- If you need to warm a vehicle, remove it from the garage immediately after starting it. Do not run a vehicle or other fueled engine or motor indoors, even if garage doors are open. Make sure the exhaust pipe of a running vehicle is not covered with snow.
- During and after a snowstorm, make sure vents for the dryer, furnace, stove, and fireplace are clear of snow build-up.
- A generator should be used in a well-ventilated location outdoors away from windows, doors and vent openings.
- Gas or charcoal grills can produce CO — only use outside.
Home Heating Equipment
Have fuel-burning heating equipment and chimneys inspected by a professional every year before cold weather sets in. When using a fireplace, open the flue for adequate ventilation. Never use your oven to heat your home.
- A person can be poisoned by a small amount of CO over a longer period of time or by a large amount of CO over a shorter amount of time.
- In 2010, U.S. fire departments responded to an estimated 80,100 non-fire CO incidents in which carbon monoxide was found, or an average of nine calls per hour.
College students living away from home should take a few minutes to make sure they are living in a fire-safe environment. Educating students on what they can do to stay safe during the school year is important and often overlooked.
- Look for fully sprinklered housing when choosing a dorm or off-campus housing.
- Make sure you can hear the building alarm system when you are in your dorm room.
- If you live in a dormitory, make sure your sleeping room has a smoke alarm, or your dormitory suite has a smoke alarm in each living area as well as the sleeping room. For the best protection, all smoke alarms in the dormitory suite should be interconnected so that when one sounds, they all sound.
- If you live in an apartment or house, make sure smoke alarms are installed in each sleeping room, outside every sleeping area, and on each level of the apartment unit or house. For the best protection, all smoke alarms in the apartment unit or house should be interconnected so that when one sounds, they all sound.
- Test all smoke alarms at least monthly.
- Never remove batteries or disable the alarm.
- Learn your building’s evacuation plan and practice all drills as if they were the real thing.
- If you live off campus, have a fire escape plan with two ways out of every room.
- When the smoke alarm or fire alarm sounds, get out of the building quickly and stay out.
- Stay in the kitchen when cooking.
- Cook only when you are alert, not sleepy or drowsy from medicine or alcohol.
- Check with your local fire department for any restrictions before using a barbeque grill, fire pit, or chimenea.
- Check your school’s rules before using electrical appliances in your room.
If you smoke, smoke outside and only where it is permitted, Use sturdy, deep, non-tip ashtrays. Don’t smoke in bed or when you’ve been drinking or are drowsy.
Burn candles only if the school permits their use. A candle is an open flame and should be placed away from anything that can burn. Never leave a candle unattended. Blow it out when you leave the room or go to sleep.
- Fires in dormitories are more common during the evening hours, between 5–11 pm, and on weekends.
- Roughly six out of seven fires in dormitories are started by cooking.
Having a babysitter can give you peace of mind. It allows you to leave your child with someone you trust. Be sure your babysitter knows about fire safety. Be sure your babysitter knows what to do if there is a fire.
Show the babysitter your home escape plan and make sure the babysitter understands:
- two ways out of every room.
- where the outdoor meeting place is located.
- the fire department or emergency phone number.
- how to unlock all doors and windows.
If you allow your babysitter to cook, make sure the babysitter:
- keeps your child at least 3 feet away from the stove.
- keeps your child at least 3 feet away from the microwave oven.
- never leaves the room while cooking.
- keeps anything that can catch fire away from the stovetop.
- keeps pets off surfaces and countertops.
If the smoke alarm sounds make sure your babysitter knows to:
- get out of the home quickly with your child to safety.
- use the second way out if smoke is in the way.
- get low and go under the smoke to the exit if an escape must be made through smoke.
Store matches and lighters out of your child’s reach. Candles should not be used by your babysitter.
Make sure your babysitter keeps a 3-foot “kid-free zone” around space heaters.
Always leave the phone number where you can be reached. Cell phones make this easy. Be sure the babysitter knows the address of the home.
Many places offer babysitter classes. These are online and in the classroom. Some schools and hospitals give training. Classes teach how to care for children. They also teach first aid. They teach CPR. What to do in an emergency is also taught.
Children “playing” with or starting fires is dangerous and costly. Each year these fires cause hundreds of injuries, millions of dollars in damage, and are most likely to kill young children under the age of 5.
Some children play with fire out of curiosity, boredom, or peer pressure, not realizing its danger. But other children misuse fire because they are struggling with problems or emotions. Without proper intervention and instruction, children who misuse fire will very likely do it again. However, if punishment is the only intervention strategy used, it could actually contribute to the problem. What can you do?
Follow these tips to keep your family safe:
- Keep matches and lighters out of the reach of children, up high, preferably in a locked cabinet.
- Closely supervise children, making sure that they are kept away from other fire sources, including lit candles, cigarettes, bonfires, and stoves.
- It is natural for young children to be curious and ask questions about fire, play with fire trucks, or pretend to cook. Use these opportunities to teach them about fire safety.
- Explain that fire moves very fast and can hurt as soon as it touches them. Tell them that this is why matches and lighters are tools for adults only.
- Teach young children to never touch matches or lighters. They must go tell a grown-up when matches or lighters are found.
- Establish clear rules and consequences about unsupervised and unauthorized uses of fire.
- Be a good example! Always use fire sources — matches, lighters, candles, fireplaces, and campfires — in a safe manner. Never treat them as toys, or children may imitate you.
- Talk with children about what their friends or other children are doing with fire. What are they seeing online in video games, on TV, in movies, and on social media? Teach them specific ways to resist the peer pressure to misuse fire.
- Give praise for showing respect and age-appropriate responsible behavior toward fire.
Understand that children and fire are a deadly combination. If you suspect a child is unusually interested in fire or is setting fires, take immediate action. Follow these safety tips. Contact your local fire department, school, burn center, or counseling agency to get help from specially trained experts.
All children are at risk of using fire unsafely. Many fires happen simply because matches and lighters are left within a child’s reach.