Home Fire Prevention and Safety

These home tips for preventing fires are basic rules of thumb. In attempting to use a fire extinguisher to extinguish a fire, generally if the fire is bigger than the physical size of the fire extinguisher call the fire department. Anyway, always call the fire department after you've put out a fire to check that you have done everything to eliminate the cause.

This page is broken down into two general categories. First and at the top of the page are more of personal safety. The second and nearer to the bottom are home tips on preventing fire and are further broken into categories of type of hazard.

If you have any questions concerning fire prevention contact your local fire department.

3 Ways to Protect Your Family From Fire

  • Install Smoke Detectors

    -- Smoke is responsible for 3 out of 4 fire deaths. The loud siren at the first sign of smoke will give your family those extra few minutes to escape safely. Test it once a month. Change batteries at least twice a year.
  • Establish an Escape Plan

    -- Have frequent family meetings to establish escape routes from your dwelling. Every room should have 2 means of escape. Rope ladders are recommended for upper floor windows. Have practice drills every 3 months.
  • Place Fire Extinguishers throughout the home


    Type A : to extinguish wood, paper and fabric fires. Keep one in the garage and the workshop.

    Type B : to extinguish grease, oil, gasoline, petroleum and other flammable liquid fires. Keep one in the kitchen, the garage and the workshop.

    Type C : to extinguish electrical fires. Keep one in the kitchen and the laundry room.

    Type ABC : for extinguishing all three types of fires.

Surviving A Large Fire

How to Get Out Safely

  • - Stay calm so you can think clearly.
  • - If door is closed, feel it from bottom to top, as well as the knob. If either is cool, you may open the door.
  • - Brace foot and shoulder against the door and open slowly. If there is light smoke, crouch low and crawl to the nearest exit with a wet cover over your nose and mouth.
  • - Stay low to avoid smoke/toxic gases that collect on ceilings.
  • - Close all doors behind you.
  • - Never use an elevator.
  • - Call the fire department. Never go back and get anything!

If You Are Trapped

  • - Don't panic! If you exert yourself, you will breathe faster and take in more smoke/toxic gases that can burn your lungs or cause you to become unconscious.
  • - Feel door from bottom to top and knob. If hot or warm, stuff clothing/towels in the cracks to keep out the smoke/toxic gases.
  • - Open a window at the top to let out heat/smoke collecting on the ceiling. Open window at the bottom and bend down to breathe in fresh air. Never open a window if smoke is rising from a lower floor.
  • - Stand by the window, waving something, and wait for rescue.

If You Catch Fire

  • 1. STOP

    where you are. Moving or running feeds air to the flames and worsens the fire.
  • 2. DROP

    to the floor. If you stand up, the fire can burn your face. Fold your arms high on your chest to protect your face.
  • 3. ROLL

    slowly on the floor or ground, or in a rug or blanket, if you can.
  • 4. COOL

    off as soon as possible with water for first and second degree burns. For third degree burns, seek medical attention immediately.

Home Fire Prevention: Common Causes of Fires

Electrical Fires

  • Electric Blankets

    Never fold or roll blanket -- heat will build up in wires, igniting blanket and rest of bed. Unplug and smooth flat when not in use. Don't leave a heating pad on for more than 30 minutes. Never fall asleep with it on. Set alarm clock to awaken in 30 minutes, if necessary.

  • Wires, Plugs & Extension Cords

  • Keep down the number of cords in one outlet or cord will overheat, causing sparks. Never run cords under rugs, behind radiators or across doorways where they can become worn. Have broken cords, switches making hiccup sounds, and hot plugs professionally repaired. Don't mask problem with electrical tape. Be sure to use proper gauge extension cord -- especially with power tools and high wattage appliances.

  • Fuses, Light Bulbs

    Use only proper size fuse or circuit will be overloaded, wiring will overheat, deteriorate and start a fire. If bulb is to large, overheating can occur in cord, shade, socket, wiring or fixture, igniting combustibles.

  • Portable Space Heaters

    Use one with thermostat (not just switch) that shuts off by itself when tipped over. Plug directly into own outlet. Use in area free of combustibles and well ventilated for heat escape. Never leave on overnight.

  • Clothes Dryers

    Never leave synthetic fabrics, plastics, rubber or foam in the dryer for longer than the manufacturers recommended time. Clean lint screen before and after use. Keep area free of combustibles. Dryers must be vented to outside and plugged into own outlet.

  • Personal Grooming Appliances

    Hair dryers, curling irons, hot rollers, makeup mirrors, and electric razors must be away from combustibles while in use. Disconnect after use. Never fold/crimp cords or insulation will be ruined, exposing wires which can short out and spark.

  • Vaporizers

    Never leave vaporizer unattended or near combustibles. Keep water level ample. Check that cord at the plug is not too hot. If it is, disconnect immediately. Use in own outlet or with heavy-duty extension cord.

Cooking Fires

  • Greasy Pan

    Never heat cooking oil and leave room. A flame can ignite spontaneously! Keep combustibles away from stove, especially loose sleeves or scarves. Hot grease can spatter and ignite any paper, cloth, or wood materials nearby.

  • Fire In Oven

    Avoid letting grease build up in any part of oven. A greasy broiler can catch fire even during preheating. If there is too much fat on a piece of meat, the grease can flare up and start a fire.

Gas Fires

  • Leaking Gas

    Never enter an area with a lighted match or cigarette if you smell gas from a pipe, heater or stove. The smallest spark or flame could ignite gas in the air and cause an explosion

Storage Fires

  • Oil Soaked Rags

    Dry out by spreading in a well ventilated room so heat can escape, then wash. Never put oily rags in a pile because they can ignite themselves. Store in labeled metal containers sealed with a tight lid.

  • Barbecue Charcoal

    Store unused coal in a cool, dry place because damp coal can ignite itself. Use metal pail/garbage can with tight lid and place in open space where heat can escape if self-ignition should occur.

  • Flammable Liquids

    Never use or store in room with pilot light, or to close to hot light bulbs because vapors in air can easily be ignited. Store in cool, dry room in labeled metal containers with tight lid.

  • Stacks of Newspaper

    Avoid storing in a damp, warm place because newspapers generate heat and can ignite themselves. Store in cool, dry place at least 3 feet away from any heat-generating source, such as a pilot light.

Heating Fires

  • Fireplace Wood Stoves

    Use only dried woods (less smoke, dirt), never flammable liquids. Dispose of cool ashes in lidded metal container. Never leave fire unattended. When burning, keep damper open, keep flammable material away and glass door/screen closed.

Storage Fires

  • Oil Soaked Rags

    Dry out by spreading in a well ventilated room so heat can escape, then wash. Never put oily rags in a pile because they can ignite themselves. Store in labeled metal containers sealed with a tight lid.

  • Barbecue Charcoal

    Store unused coal in a cool, dry place because damp coal can ignite itself. Use metal pail/garbage can with tight lid and place in open space where heat can escape if self-ignition should occur.

  • Flammable Liquids

    Never use or store in room with pilot light, or to close to hot light bulbs because vapors in air can easily be ignited. Store in cool, dry room in labeled metal containers with tight lid.

  • Stacks of Newspaper

    Avoid storing in a damp, warm place because newspapers generate heat and can ignite themselves. Store in cool, dry place at least 3 feet away from any heat-generating source, such as a pilot light.