Fire Prevention and Safety at Home
Everyone has a role to play in your home’s fire safety. Both kids and adults should be familiar with smoke alarms and home fire escape planning. The Family Fire Safety Checklist (PDF) is a great way to make sure your family is prepared.
Print a Smoke Alarm Tear Sheet (PDF) and put it in an important place in your home. Remember to test your smoke alarms once a month. Tear off the correct month when the test is finished! Home Fire Escape Plan
You and your family should develop and practice a home fire escape plan. Don’t forget to arrange a meeting (safe) place, your mailbox makes a great one! Print the Home Fire Escape Plan (PDF) and practice your escape at least twice a year!
Safety Tips for Kids
Safety Tips for Adults
Although the number of residential fires has decreased drastically in recent decades, there are still, on average, more than 350,000 in the U.S. annually, resulting in $6.5 billion in damages. According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), in 2010, 85% of all civilian fire deaths occurred in homes. Proactive fire prevention and education enhance the safety of the community. Although not all fires are preventable, many are, and in the case of a fire, there are simple steps to minimize the damage.
- Install smoke alarms on each level of your home, within earshot of each bedroom. About half of home fire fatalities happen between the hours of 11:00 p.m. and 7:00 a.m.
- Test every smoke detector monthly.
- Make a plan for how to get your entire family out of your home in less than two minutes, and practice the plan regularly.
- Once you are safely out of your home, stay out! Store irreplaceable items, like keepsakes and digital photo storage in a fireproof box so that you won’t be tempted to re-enter.
- Never leave food unattended while cooking.
- Avoid smoking in the home, as this is the leading cause of home fire deaths.
- Refrain from using space heaters, if possible.
Hundreds of children die in home fires each year in this country. From a young age, it’s imperative that you teach your children the critical fire safety tips that could save their lives. A well-prepared child will be less likely to panic or hide out of fear.
- Have fire drills and coach your child through your family’s escape plan. Be sure to address any questions or concerns your child has. Practice until everyone can make it outside safely within two minutes. Also, ensure that your plan includes a specific place outside where everyone will meet.
- Teach your child not to open a door if the doorknob is hot, as this is a sign that the room has been taken over by fire.
- In addition to storing matches and lighters out of children’s reach, teach your them that they should never play with these items if they are found left out or if they find them in another home.
- Talk with your children about basic safety around the home, including electrical outlet safety and other potential fire hazards.
For more resources on fire safety and education for small children, please refer to the following:
Older Kids and Teens
The older a child is, the more likely they are to remain calm in the event of an emergency. However, kids in this age group are more likely to cause house fires.
- Make sure that every family member is familiar and comfortable with the escape plan, including where to go once they’re outside.
- Since many pre-teens and teenagers use the microwave and maybe even the stove, discuss kitchen safety. Younger pre-teens and inexperienced teens should never heat anything in the kitchen without an adult’s supervision.
- In case they can’t make it outside, kids should know how to cover vents and doorways to prevent smoke from entering the room. Everyone should have access to a flashlight to signal for help.
- Talk to teenagers about never leaving burning candles unattended, including never leaving them lit while they’re asleep.
- Charging cell phones can overheat and cause a fire if they are under or near something flammable like bedding. Warn your teen to never sleep with their phone in the bed or under their pillow.
Below are additional sites to learn more about fire safety for older children, teens, and young adults:
- Fire Safety Video: What Every Child Should Know (YouTube)
- Dealing with Burns
- Fire Safety and Fire Prevention
Fire Safety for Seniors
While your loved ones may be independent enough to live alone in their own homes, they may need your help to be safe in the event of a fire. If you aren’t able to check on your elderly family members personally, find a trusted friend or neighbor who would be willing to help. Amongst seniors, smoking is the leading cause of home fire deaths. Talk to your loved ones about smoking in the home, particularly:
- Making the change to an e-cigarette, if possible
- Never smoking near an oxygen tank, even if it isn’t in use
- Dousing cigarette butts with water before discarding
- Never resting lit cigarettes on furniture
- Never smoking if drowsy and fully extinguishing cigarettes before sleeping
For seniors who must rely on the use of a space heater, use all necessary precautions to prevent fire. They should be at least three feet away from easily combustible material, especially bedding and curtains. Encourage your loved ones to turn off their space heaters before they go to sleep or leave the home.
Finally, make sure older family members can exit their home from any location in under two minutes. For seniors with mobility problems, this may mean creating access to multiple exits. Here are additional resources for seniors:
- Fire Safety for Seniors Booklet (PDF)
- Home Fire Safety for Older Adults Safety Awareness Program Toolkit
Fire Safety Resources for the Disabled
Fire can be dangerous for anyone but can pose unique challenges for people with disabilities. People with disabilities may have more difficulty escaping a fire or calling for help. Below is a list of resources that can provide advice and information on fire safety for people with disabilities.
- Fire Safety Solutions for People with Disabilities (PDF)
- Evacuation for People with Disabilities
- Fire Safety for the Disabled
- Fire Safety for Wheelchair Users at Work and at Home (PDF)
How to Create a Safety Plan for Your Family
Not all families will have identical safety plans. While the internet is a great source of tips and sample plans, you will probably need to tweak them to fit your family’s needs. Keep in mind that it may be necessary to change your plan if you move or your family grows.
- Be sure everyone in your household knows what exits are available, including windows.
- If possible, discuss two possible exits from each room in the home.
- Hold a practice fire drill and make sure that the entire family can safely evacuate in less than two minutes.
- If any family members have mobility issues, another family member should be assigned to help get that individual out of the house safely.
- Agree on one meeting place outside the home. It should be a safe distance from the house.
- Regularly check to make sure that any possible exits are not blocked by furniture or clutter. Here are some additional resources on fire safety plans:
Additional Resources for Educators
If you would like to learn more about fire safety, prevention, and education, here are some links that may be useful:
- National Fire Protection Association (NFPA)
- Sparky the Fire Dog
- U.S. Fire Administration Guide for Older Adults
- Christmas Tree Fire Safety
- Prevent Home Fires
- Home Improvements to Prevent Kitchen Fires
- Alert Firemen that Pets Are Inside (ASPCA)
- Is Your Home Fire Safe? (PDF)
- Fire Safety Checklist
- Plan Escape Routes (PDF)
- Electrical Fire Safety (PDF)
- Free Smoke Detector Program (PDF)
- Kitchen Fire Safety Video (YouTube)
- Fire Safety Educators
- The Alarming Truth