Home Fire Safety Instructions

Home Fire Safety
Someone's home catches fire approximately every 45 seconds. As the seconds tick, a single spark often grows into a blazing fire, racing from room to room, damaging and destroying whatever may lie in its path. What makes the situation even worse is that fire experts believe that most home fires could be easily prevented. Most are caused by carelessness and might not occur if people would take just a few minutes to learn and practice fire prevention in their homes.

This guide outlines many basic fire prevention practices you and your family should know. It highlights important steps to follow to prevent a fire in your home, and to protect you and your belongings. To get your home into fire safety shape, walk through your home on a fire prevention inspection using this guide. Keep your home in fire safety shape with regular inspection updates.

No place is safe from fire. Let's take a few minutes now to go through your home, room by room, to put safe fire practices to work.

Kitchen
Watch a stove constantly while broiling or frying. Never pour water on burning cooking oil or fat -- it spreads the flames. Smother the flaming pan with a lid, or use a fire extinguisher. Don't try to carry the flaming pan outside. You may burn yourself or spill the grease, spreading the fire.

Turn pot handles away from the stove edge so children can't pull them down and you can't accidentally bump them. Keep the stove, oven and hood vent free of grease and dirt buildup. Verify that all burners and ovens are turned off before leaving the area. Don't store items in the oven or on the stove top. Check the oven before turning on.

If an appliance doesn't work properly, don't take a chance using it, have it serviced. Don't use an electric appliance if your hands or shoes are wet. Never use a fork or other piece of silverware to free a jam in a toaster. Try wooden tongs instead and unplug it first.

Don't store frequently used items over the stove. It's easy to get burned reaching over a hot stove.

If your smoke detector sounds because of smoke while you're cooking, and you turn it off, remember to turn it on again when you finish cooking. If it sounds often while you're cooking, move it permanently to another location away from the kitchen.

Bedrooms
Smoking is the leading cause of home fire-related deaths. Make a firm rule not to allow anyone to smoke in bed. Sleep with doors closed to keep out smoke and fumes that can overcome you while you sleep. Install a smoke detector inside and outside of every bedroom.

Living or Family Room
Allow air space around the TV, VCR, and stereo to prevent overheating. Always use a screen in front of a fireplace, and have the chimney checked and cleaned regularly. Throw out ashes in a metal container. If someone has been smoking, check chairs and sofa cushions for cigarette or cigar butts and ashes, which can smolder. Check extra carefully after you have guests.

Basement, Garage, Laundry, Shop, & Storage Rooms
Heating hazards causes the majority of home fires. Have your heating equipment checked yearly. Don't store paper, rags or flammables near heating equipment. Keep the area around heaters clear and accessible.

Don't use or store gasoline, kerosene, or other flammable liquids indoors. Store them outside in safety cans with self-closing lids.

Replace a blown-out fuse with a fuse the correct size. Clean lint from behind the clothes dryer and from the dryer vent. Don't thaw, frozen water pipes with open flames. Use hot water or a heat gun. Keep shop area free of soiled rags and wood shavings.

Install a multipurpose (ABC) fire extinguisher in the garage and/or storage area. Teach your family how to use the extinguisher (Use P.A.S.S., Pull pin, Aim, Squeeze, Sweep).

Throughout Your Home
Keep the Fire Department phone number on or near each phone. Keep matches and lighters in a place where children can't reach them and away from heat sources. Be sure all cigarettes and matches are cold before discarding. Don't discard in the wastebasket.

Properly store household chemicals and flammable liquids. Install smoke detectors on every level of the home.

Electrical Precautions
Make sure all electrical appliances and cords bear the seal of approval of the Underwriters Laboratories (UL). This means they have passed safety tests. Don't overload outlets. Too many plugs in an outlet can generate too much heat and start a fire in the wiring or wall. If you need more outlets, have an electrician install them.

Don't let electrical cords get wet, and don't leave them where people can trip over them. It's also dangerous to put electrical cords under carpets where then can become damaged and go unnoticed. Replace cords when they become frayed.

Only use extension cords that have built-in circuit breakers and are the same thickness or thicker than the cord you want to extend. Never use a 2-prong extension cord with a 3-prong plug. Use outlet covers to keep children from putting their fingers or other objects in the outlet. Unplug appliances when not in use and when you're on vacation.

Home Escape Plan
Create, implement, and practice a home escape plan that includes:
  • A meeting place outside (tree, mailbox, etc…)
  • Crawling low under smoke
  • Two exits from every room
Make sure children and the elderly understand that a smoke detector signals a home fire and that they can recognize the sound of its alarm. Make sure all family members know how to dial 911 in an emergency (State your name, location, and type of emergency).

Make sure all family members know to stop, drop, and roll if their clothes catch on fire.

Home Fire Safety Inspection Form
Please print the Safety Check List (PDF) to perform a Fire Safety Inspection for your home.