There is no way to absolutely prevent fires since nature, storms, and even embers from a neighboring fire can ignite a blaze. Fortunately, fire preparedness can help you avoid in-home fires. Taking steps to protect your home is the best way to prevent accidental fires from happening.
Recognizing and Preventing Fire Hazards
There are many things you can do to protect your home from fire hazards. Practicing good fire safety habits and knowing what to avoid can help you minimize risks in your home.
Fire Prevention Tips:
- Install fire alarms on every level of your home, and replace fire alarms that are over 10 years old.
- Check your fire alarms once per month and change the batteries as needed.
- Prepare a fire escape plan for your family and review it together on a regular basis.
- Consider purchasing a multi-purpose fire extinguisher (rated A-B-C) and get training from your local fire department on how to operate it. Make sure the fire extinguisher is replaced or recharged regularly as appropriate by model. For more information, the US Fire Administration has a comprehensive guide on Choosing Fire Extinguishers.
Protect Your Home from Fire Hazards:
- Don’t leave personal space heaters unattended.
- Don’t leave food in ovens, stove tops, or grills unattended. Turn off burners if you plan to leave the room.
- Don’t leave open flame candles unattended; blow them out if you are leaving the room.
The Red Cross of America offers a handy Fire Prevention Checklist that offers additional tips and recommendations on how to protect your home and your family.
What to Do in Case of Fire
Fires can spread quickly, so it’s important to respond quickly. Knowing what to do during a fire can help save the lives of you and your family.
During a fire:
- Extinguish small fires with a fire extinguisher if possible.
- Safely exit the home if a fire is growing and/or cannot be contained, and meet family members at your pre-established meeting place.
- Call 911.
- Account for all family members. If you or a family member becomes trapped in a room, close the door and place wet towels along the bottom door seam. Open the window and signal for help with a flashlight or white or brightly colored piece of cloth.
- Do not re-enter the building to retrieve valuables once your are outside.
The Do’s and Don’ts of Fire Safety
- Keep items that can catch on fire such as space heaters at least 3 feet away from flammable surfaces or items.
- If you live on an upper floor of a building, take the stairs to leave the building. Do not take the elevator.
- If your clothing catches fire, remember to stop, drop, and roll. When you drop to the floor, try to keep your face covered. Roll until you have put the fire out.
- If smoke fills a room, stay low to the floor to keep under the smoke.
- Do not open doors where the door handle or surface is warm to the touch.
- Don’t ignore fire alarms.
- Don’t collect personal items before you exit or go back into a home for personal items once you have exited.