Fire Safety

How to Prevent House Fires:

1: Check and monitor Electrical Appliances, Cords, and Outlets

  • Are your electrical appliances in good condition, without loose or frayed cords or plugs?
  • Are your outlets overloaded with plugs from the TV, computer, printer, video game system, and stereo?
  • Are you overusing an extension cord?
  • Do the light fixtures in your home use bulbs that are the correct wattage?
  • Does your home contain GFCIs (ground fault circuit interrupters) and/or AFCIs (arc fault circuit interrupters), which prevent electrical shock and fire by shutting off faulty circuits?

Tips for using appliances, cords, and outlets:

  • Replace or professionally repair any appliances that spark, smell unusual, or overheat.
  • Don’t run electrical wires under rugs.
  • Make sure lamps and nightlights are not touching bedspreads, drapes, or other fabrics.
  • Use caution when using electric blankets.
  • Don’t let kids use kitchen appliances by themselves and supervise any art or science projects that involve electrical devices.
  • Cover any outlets that are not in use with plastic safety covers if you have toddlers or young children in your home.

2: Portable Heaters

Before plugging in your space heater, make sure you know how to use it safely:

  • Carefully read the directions for its use.
  • Never place a space heater where a child or pet could accidentally knock it over.
  • Never place a space heater too close to a bed, especially a child’s bed.
  • Keep newspapers, magazines, and fabrics from curtains, clothes, or bedding away from space heaters, radiators, and fireplaces.
  • Heaters should be at least 3 feet from anything flammable.

3: Kitchen Appliances

Cooking is the leading cause of home fires in the United States. A fire can start from food left unsupervised on a stove or in an oven or microwave

    • grease spills
    • a dish towel too close to a burner
    • a toaster or toaster oven flare-up
    • a coffee pot accidentally left on

Tips for using the stove:

  • Always supervise kids while cooking.
  • Turn all pot handles in so they can’t be knocked over.
  • Don’t wear loose-fitting clothing that could catch fire around the stove.

4: Fireplaces

  • Keep fireplaces clean and covered with a screen to stop sparks from jumping out.
  • Only wood should be burned in the fireplace — paper and other materials can escape while burning and start a fire on nearby items.
  • Never leave a fire burning unattended.
  • Make sure a fire is completely put out before leaving the house or going to bed.
  • Have the chimney professionally cleaned once a year.

5: Cigarettes

According to the National Fire Prevention Association (NFPA), cigarettes are the No. 1 cause of fire deaths in the United States, killing about 1,000 people per year. Most fires start when ashes or butts fall into couches and chairs.

If you smoke:

  • Be especially careful around upholstered furniture.
  • Never smoke in bed.
  • Make sure cigarettes are completely out before you toss them into the trash.

6: Matches and Lighters

Playing with matches is still the leading cause of fire-related deaths and injuries for kids younger than 5.

  • Always keep matches and lighters out of children’s reach.
  • Store flammable materials such as gasoline, kerosene, and cleaning supplies outside of your home and away from kids.

7: Candles:

Tips for using candles:

  • Keep them out of reach of kids and pets.
  • Keep away from curtains and furniture.
  • Extinguish them before you go to bed.
  • Make sure candles are in sturdy holders made of non-flammable material that won’t tip over.
  • Don’t let older kids and teens use candles unsupervised in their rooms.

8: Smoke Alarms

Having smoke alarms may be the most important thing you can do to keep your family safe.

Tips for using smoke alarms:

  • Install them on every level of your home and in each bedroom.
  • If possible, choose alarms with a 10-year lithium battery.
  • If your smoke alarm uses regular batteries, remember to replace them every year (hint: change your batteries when you change your clock back from Daylight Saving Time in the fall).
  • Test your smoke alarms monthly, and be sure your kids are familiar with the sound of the alarm.
  • Because smoke rises, smoke detectors should always be placed on ceilings or high on walls.
  • If a smoke detector near the kitchen goes off while you’re cooking, don’t take the battery out of it — you may forget to replace it. Open the doors and windows instead.
  • If you’re having a new home built or remodeling an older home, you may want to consider adding a home sprinkler system. These are already found in many apartment buildings and dorms.