Fires affect thousands of Americans and cause billions of dollars in damage every year. Because fires spread so quickly, they can be particularly deadly – becoming life threatening in two minutes and engulfing a residence in as little as five minutes. Make sure that you and your family are aware of ways to keep yourselves and your home safe. Being prepared can help prevent fires, save lives and minimize property damage.

Home Fire Safety

  • Install a smoke alarm inside each sleeping area and on each level of your home.
  • Place smoke alarms on every level of your residence, outside bedrooms on the ceiling or high on the wall, at the top of open stairways or at the bottom of enclosed stairs and near (but not in) the kitchen.
  • Sleep with the doors closed. It slows the spread of the fire.
  • Test each smoke alarm once a month and replace old batteries immediately.
  • Replace smoke alarms every 10 years.
  • Keep one or more working fire extinguishers in your home and know how to use them.
  • Never leave something cooking on the stove unattended and keep the cooking area clutter-free.
  • Keep matches and lighters safely out of reach of children.
  • Place heaters at least three feet away from flammable material. Use extreme caution when using alternative heating sources.
  • Check electrical wiring in your home and have it replaced if it appears frayed or cracked. Do not overload outlets or extension cords.
  • Make sure your home’s address can be clearly seen from the street.

What to Do in a Fire

  • Make sure all family members know what to do in case of a fire.
  • Draw a floor plan with at least two escape routes from every room of your home and select a location outside your home where everyone will meet after evacuating.
  • Practice your escape plan at least once a month. You can even practice escaping with a blindfold on because the amount of smoke generated by a real fire will likely make it impossible to see.
  • Get out of the building as quickly and safely as you can. Don’t waste time gathering valuables or making a phone call. Once you’re out of the building, don’t go back in for any reason.
  • If a door feels hot, do not open it. Do not open any doors except for the ones you have to escape through.
  • If there is smoke in the house, stay low to the ground as you exit to avoid inhaling potentially toxic fumes.
  • If clothes catch fire – stop, drop to the floor and roll. Cover your face with your hands.
  • Use the stairs to escape and do not use an elevator.
  • Teach children not to hide under beds or in closets in the event of a fire emergency, as this will make it more difficult for firefighters to find them. 
  • Consider escape ladders for sleeping areas on the second or third floor. Learn how to use them and store them near windows.

Fire at Your Workplace

  • Develop a plan for facility evacuation.
  • Plan for members or staff with functional needs and make accommodations.
  • Designate a meeting area for facility occupants that is a safe distance away from the building.
  • Coordinate with the local fire department to share building floor plans, evacuation procedures and the location of designated meeting area.
  • Work with local fire department to identify building safety measures that can be made to prevent or mitigate fire damage and to train staff in fire emergencies.
  • If a fire suppression system is in place, test functionality at regular intervals and ensure regular maintenance is done.
  • Do not use elevators.

If a Wildfire Threatens Your Home

  • Close windows and doors.
  • Shut off the gas at the meter.
  • Hook up a garden hose and place lawn sprinklers on the roof.
  • Wet or pull up vegetation within 15 feet of your home.
  • Move patio furniture inside.
  • Prepare to evacuate immediately, if necessary. Park the car facing your escape route and leave the doors unlocked.