In the U.S., most fire deaths occur in residences, with billions of dollars in property loss each year. Make sure you and your families are aware of ways to keep yourselves and your home safe. Being aware and prepared can help prevent fires as well as save your life and minimize property damage in the event of a fire.
Fire Safety Tips
Keep Your Home Safe
- Install a smoke alarm inside each sleeping area and on each level of your home.
- Sleep with doors closed.
- Vacuum and dust smoke alarms weekly.
- Test each smoke alarm once a month. Replace bad batteries immediately.
- Replace all smoke alarm batteries at least twice a year.
- Replace smoke alarms every 10 years.
- Keep one or more working fire extinguishers in your home and know how to use them.
- Keep matches and lighters safely out of reach of children.
- Never leave something cooking on the stove unattended, and keep the cooking area clutter free.
Make a Plan
- Determine at least two escape routes from every room of your home.
- Select a location outside your home where everyone will meet after escaping.
- Practice your escape plan at least once a month.
- Consider escape ladders for sleeping areas on the second or third floor. Learn how to use them and store them near the window.
- Consider installing an automatic fire sprinkler system in your home.
If a Fire Occurs
- Get everyone out of the house.
- Call 9-1-1 immediately.
- Use fire extinguishers in certain situations:
- If the fire is contained and you have a fire extinguisher nearby, you may choose to attempt to put the fire out yourself.
- Do not try to put out a fire that is getting out of control. If you're not sure you can control it, get out of the house.
- If the fire is not electrical or chemical in nature, water can also be used to extinguish it.
- Smother oil and grease fires in the kitchen with baking soda or salt, or put a lid over the flame if it is burning in a pan.
- If your clothes catch on fire: Stop, Drop, and Roll until the fire is extinguished. Running only makes the fire burn faster.
- If you hear the sound of a smoke detector, feel the doorknob of the door you plan to escape through with the back of your hand.
- If the doorknob is cool, leave immediately. Close doors behind you.
- If the doorknob is warm, use your second way out. If you have no other way out because smoke, heat, or flames block your exit routes, stay in the room with the door closed.
- Signal for help using a bright-colored cloth at the window.
- If you have an operating telephone, call 9-1-1 and tell them where you are.
- Stuff the cracks around the door with towels, rags, bedding or tape and cover vents to keep smoke out.
- Call the fire department again to tell them exactly where you are located. Do this even if you can see fire apparatus.
- Wait at a window and signal for help with a flashlight or by waving a sheet.
- If possible, open the window at the top and bottom, but do not break it; you may need to close the window if smoke rushes in.
- Do not use elevators.
- Be prepared to crawl - smoke and heat rise, so the air is clearer and cooler near the floor.
- Once you are out, stay out! Call the fire department from a neighbor’s home.
- If any members of the family are missing from your pre-designated meeting area outside the house, notify firefighters.
After a Fire
- Remain calm. Pace yourself. You may find yourself in the position of taking charge of other people. Listen carefully to what people are telling you, and deal patiently with urgent situations first.
- Have injuries examined and treated by a medical professional.
- Wash small wounds with soap and water. To help prevent the infection of small wounds, use bandages and replace them if they become soiled, damaged or waterlogged.
- Check with the fire department to make sure your residence is safe to enter. Do not remove or cross colored tape that was placed over doors or windows to mark damaged areas unless local authorities advise that it is safe to do so.
- If a building inspector has placed a color-coded sign on your home, do not enter it until you get more information, advice and instructions about what the sign means and whether it is safe to enter your home.