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Fire Safety

Use this checklist to increase your awareness of how fires can occur and to learn basic fire protection. Most fires can be prevented by spotting fire hazards and taking simple precautions.

Smoke Alarms

  • Install at least one smoke alarm on every floor of your home, including the basement, and in or near sleeping areas.
  • Know for certain that everyone in your family awakens to the sound of the smoke alarm. It is important to find out during realistic family fire drills in case some family members have hearing problems, or simply sleep through the sound of the alarm.
  • Keep your alarms clean and test the batteries monthly. It's a good idea to test all smoke alarms when you return from an extended trip in case a battery has gone dead during your absence.
  • Replace batteries when the alarm "chirps" or at least once a year.
  • Relocate the smoke alarm if it causes “false alarms” as a result of being placed too close to the kitchen or bathroom.
  • Install new smoke alarms when they are 10 years old or older - sooner if one is damaged or not working.
  • Escape Plan

  • Does every member of your family know your plan for escape in the event of fire?
  • Does everyone know at least two ways out of each room?
  • Have you agreed on a meeting place outside of your home where you will gather to wait for the fire department?
  • Does everyone know to get out first, then call for help from a neighbor's or nearby phone?
  • Does everyone understand that they should never, ever go back inside a burning building?
  • Has your family practiced escaping through smoke by getting down on hands and knees and crawling with their head 12" to 24" above the ground to the nearest exit?
  • Does your entire family know to look for an exit free from smoke or flames if possible?
  • Does everyone in your family know how to stop, drop, and roll on the ground to smother flames if clothes catch fire?
  • Household Heating Equipment

    Heating equipment is the second-leading cause of U.S. home fires. In addition to preventable injuries and deaths from heating equipment fires, contact burns and carbon monoxide poisoning are also risks.

  • Properly use and maintain your heating equipment.
  • Furnaces should be inspected annually and cleaned and repaired as needed.
  • Keep the area around the furnace clean and clear of combustibles and all items that can block the flow of air around the furnace.
  • Keep flammable liquids well away from heat sources (preferably in an outdoor shed).
  • Fireplaces should be protected with screens or tempered glass doors.
  • Kindling and other combustible items must be kept at least three feet away from the opening.
  • Have the chimney inspected before the heating season and cleaned if necessary.
  • When purchasing an electric space heater, look for the UL mark.
  • Keep at least three feet between the heater and anything that can burn.
  • Turn it off before falling asleep or leaving the area you are heating.
  • Wood and Coal Burning Stoves

    Make sure wood and coal burning stoves are properly installed and meet building and fire codes. If you have young children, supervise them carefully and consider installing a temporary stove guard to help prevent contact burns.

  • Follow instructions for proper location of your stove, placing it at least 3 feet away from walls and other combustible materials.
  • Follow stove instructions and cleaning and maintenance requirements.
  • Have chimneys inspected each year and cleaned, if necessary, by a professional chimney sweep to avoid dangerous creosote buildup.
  • Use an approved stone board under your wood or coal stove to protect the floor from heat and stray embers.
  • Never use gasoline or other flammable liquids to start a stove fire.
  • These stoves are not designed to burn trash or other items.
  • Gas-Fired Space Heaters

    These heaters should not be used in small-enclosed areas, especially bedrooms.

  • Do not operate a vented-style heater unvented. It might allow combustion products to reach dangerous levels, including Carbon Monoxide resulting in illness or death.
  • Do not use a propane heater with a gas cylinder stored in the body of the heater or stored anywhere in the house. This practice is prohibited in most of the United States.
  • Follow the manufacturer's instructions for lighting.
  • Keep flammable materials away from gas-fired appliances.
  • Gas vapors may accumulate and ignite explosively, burning your hand or face.
  • Cooking Equipment

    Cooking equipment is the leading cause of home fires. Kitchen fires are very common, but highly preventable.

  • Keep constant vigilance on anything you're cooking.
  • Keep potholders, plastic utensils, towels, or other non-cooking equipment away from hot cooking surfaces.
  • Store candy or cookies away from cooking equipment to avoid the temptation kids feel to climb on cooking equipment.
  • Cigarettes, Lighters, Matches

    Smoking materials are the leading cause of home fire deaths. The tools used to light them are also a fire hazard.

  • Keep lighters and matches in a locked cabinet out of sight and reach of children.
  • Assure that cigarette butts are fully extinguished before emptying ashtrays, and never place a cigarette butt directly into a trashcan without dousing it with water first.
  • Carefully check furniture where smokers have been sitting for accidentally discarded smoking materials.
  • Use sturdy ashtrays that are placed on stable surfaces.
  • For More Safety Tips

    For more information visit the Safe Kids Worldwide website.