Fire Safety Tips

Winter Fire Safety Tips

Space heater safety tips

  • Choose a heater that has been tested to the latest safety standards and certified by a nationally recognized testing laboratory. These heaters will have the most up-to-date safety features, while older space heaters may not meet the newer safety standards.The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has worked to upgrade industry standards for electric, kerosene, and vented and unvented gas space heaters. An automatic cut-off device is now required to turn off electric or kerosene heaters if they tip over. More guarding around the heating coils of electric heaters and the burner of kerosene heaters also is required to prevent fires.
  • Place the heater on a level, hard and nonflammable surface, not on rugs or carpets or near bedding or drapes. Keep the heater at least three feet from bedding, drapes, furniture, or other flammable materials.
  • Keep doors open to the rest of the house if you are using an unvented fuel-burning space heater. This helps prevent pollutant build-up and promotes proper combustion. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions to provide sufficient combustion air to prevent carbon monoxide production.
  • Never leave a space heater on when you go to sleep. Never place a space heater close to any sleeping person.
  • Turn the space heater off if you leave the area. Keep children and pets away from space heaters.
  • Do not use a kitchen range or oven to heat your house because it could overheat or generate carbon monoxide.
  • Have a smoke alarm with fresh batteries on each level of the house and inside every bedroom. In addition, have a carbon monoxide alarm outside the bedrooms in each separate sleeping area.
  • Be aware that mobile homes require specially designed heating equipment. Only electric or vented fuel-fired equipment should be used.
  • Have gas and kerosene space heaters inspected annually to ensure proper operation.

Fireplace safety tips

  • Have flues and chimneys inspected before each heating season for leakage and blockage by creosote or debris.
  • Open the fireplace damper before lighting the fire and keep it open until the ashes are cool. This will avert the building up of poisonous gases, especially while the family is sleeping.
  • Never use gasoline, charcoal lighter or other fuel to light or relight a fire because the vapors can explode. Never keep flammable fuels or materials near a fire.
  • Keep a screen or glass enclosure around a fireplace to prevent sparks or embers from igniting flammable materials

Smoke alarm safety tips

Smoke alarms save lives. Almost two-thirds of home fire deaths resulted from fires in homes with no smoke alarms or no working smoke alarms. When there is a fire, smoke spreads fast and you need smoke alarms to give you time to get out.

  • Install smoke alarms in every bedroom, outside each separate sleeping area and on every level of the home, including the basement. Interconnect all smoke alarms throughout the home. When one sounds, they all sound.
  • An ionization smoke alarm is generally more responsive to flaming fires, and a photoelectric smoke alarm is generally more responsive to smoldering fires. For the best protection, both types of alarms or a combination alarm (photoelectric and ionization) should be installed in homes.
  • Test alarms at least monthly by pushing the test button.
  • Smoke rises; install smoke alarms following manufacturer’s instructions high on a wall or on a ceiling. Save manufacturer’s instructions for testing and maintenance.
  • Replace batteries in all smoke alarms at least once a year. If an alarm “chirps”, warning the battery is low, replace the battery right away.
  • Replace all smoke alarms, including alarms that use 10-year batteries and hard-wired alarms, when they are 10 year old or sooner if they do not respond properly.
  • Be sure the smoke alarm has the label of a recognized testing laboratory.
  • Alarms that are hard-wired (and include battery backup) must be installed by a qualified electrician.
  • If cooking fumes or steam sets off nuisance alarms, replace the alarm with an alarm that has a “hush” button. A “hush” button will reduce the alarm’s sensitivity for a short period of time.
  • An ionization alarm with a hush button or a photoelectric alarm should be used if the alarm is within 20 feet of a cooking appliance.
  • Smoke alarms that include a recordable voice announcement in addition to the usual alarm sound, may be helpful in waking children through the use of a familiar voice.
  • Smoke alarms are available for people who are deaf or hard of hearing. These devices use strobe lights. Vibration devices can be added to these alarms

Smoke alarms are an important part of a home fire escape plan.

Cooking fire safety tips

It’s a recipe for serious injury or even death to wear loose clothing (especially hanging sleeves), walk away from a cooking pot on the stove, or leave items that can catch fire, such as potholders or paper towels, around the stove. Whether you are cooking the family holiday dinner or a snack for the children, practicing safe cooking behaviors will help keep you and your family safe.


Choose the Right Equipment and Use It Properly

  • Always use cooking equipment tested and approved by a recognized testing facility.
  • Follow manufacturers’ instructions and code requirements when installing and operating cooking equipment.
  • Plug microwave ovens and other cooking appliances directly into a wall outlet. Never use an extension cord for a cooking appliance – it can overload the circuit and cause a fire.
  • Never leave a barbecue grill unattended.
  • Place the grill well away from siding, deck railings and out from under eaves and overhanging branches. Don’t use or store on a porch or balcony.
  • Place the grill a safe distance from lawn games, play areas and foot traffic.
  • Keep children and pets away from the grill area. Have a 3-foot “kid-free zone” around the grill.
  • Put out several long-handled grilling tools to give the chef plenty of clearance from heat and flames when cooking food.
  • Periodically remove grease or fat buildup in trays below grill so it cannot be ignited by a hot grill.
  • Use only outdoors! If used indoors, or in any enclosed spaces, such as tents, barbecue grills pose both a fire hazard and a risk of exposing occupants to carbon monoxide.


Use Barbecue Grills Safely

Charcoal Grills

  • Purchase the proper starter fluid and store out of reach of children and away from heat sources.
  • Never add charcoal starter fluid when coals or kindling have already been ignited, and never use any flammable liquid other than charcoal starter fluid to get the fire going.
  • Dispose of charcoal coals only after they are cool. Empty the coals into a metal container with a tight-fitting lid that is used only to collect coals. Place the container away from anything that can burn. Never empty coals directly into a trash can.

Propane Grills

  • Check the propane cylinder hose for leaks before using it for the first time each year. A light soap and water solution applied to the hose will reveal escaping propane quickly by releasing bubbles.
  • If you determined your grill has a gas leak by smell or the soapy bubble test and there is no flame:
    • Turn off the propane tank and grill.
    • If the leak stops, get the grill serviced by a professional before using it again.
    • If the leak does not stop, call the fire department.
  • If you smell gas while cooking, immediately get away from the grill and call the fire department. Do not attempt to move the grill.
  • All propane cylinders manufactured after April 2002 must have overfill protection devices (OPD). OPDs shut off the flow of propane before capacity is reached, limiting the potential for release of propane gas if the cylinder heats up. OPDs are easily identified by their triangular-shaped hand wheel.
  • Use only equipment bearing the mark of an independent testing laboratory. Follow the manufacturers’ instructions on how to set up the grill and maintain it.
  • Never store propane cylinders in buildings or garages. If you store a gas grill inside during the winter, disconnect the cylinder and leave it outside.
  • Light a propane grill only with the cover open/
  • The leading cause of fires in the kitchen is unattended cooking.
  • Stay in the kitchen when you are frying, grilling, or broiling food. If you leave the kitchen for even a short period of time, turn off the stove.
  • If you are simmering, baking, roasting, or boiling food, check it regularly, remain in the home while food is cooking, and use a timer to remind you that you’re cooking.
  • Stay alert! To prevent cooking fires, you have to be alert. You won’t be if you are sleepy, have been drinking alcohol, or have taken medicine that makes you drowsy.
  • Keep anything that can catch fire – potholders, oven mitts, wooden utensils, paper or plastic bags, food packaging, towels, or curtains – away from your stove-top.
  • Keep the stove-top, burners, and oven clean.
  • Keep pets off cooking surfaces and nearby counter-tops to prevent them from knocking things onto the burner.
  • Wear short, close-fitting or tightly rolled sleeves when cooking. Loose clothing can dangle onto stove burners and catch fire if it comes into contact with a gas flame or electric burner.

Watch What You Heat:

Keep Things That Can Catch Fire and Heat Sources Apart

Senior citizens fire safety tips

Seniors Most Susceptible to Fire Death Says US Fire Administration

The fire death rate among people over the age of 65 is twice as high as the national average, according to the United States Fire Administration (USFA). In addition, the fire death rate among people between ages 75 and 85 is three times the national average and after age 85, it increases to four times the national average. These statistics are especially alarming when researchers estimate that by 2030, the 65 and older population will exceed 70 million people.

Adults 65 years and older can reduce their fire death rate by changing five major fire safety habits:

Change Smoke Alarm Batteries

Having a working smoke alarm can more than double your chances of surviving a fire.

Make sure alarms are installed on each level of your home and outside all sleeping areas. If sleeping with bedroom doors closed, the smoke alarms should be installed within each room. Test each alarm monthly and replace the battery at least once a year. Adults who are deaf or hard of hearing should invest in visual aids such as alarms with strobe lights. Flashing or vibrating smoke alarms should also be tested every month.

Change or Update Escape Routes

Many older adults are still using escape routes that were planned when the kids were in the house. Plan and practice your home fire escape. Consider your capabilities when preparing escape routes. Have two ways to get out of each room and if needed, make sure all exits are accessible for walkers or wheelchairs.

Change Unsafe Smoking Habits

Careless smoking is the leading cause of fire deaths among Americans 65 years and older. Make sure that you are alert when you smoke and never smoke in bed. When you are finished smoking, soak the ashes in water before discarding them. Never leave smoking materials unattended, and collect them in large deep ashtrays.

Change Unsafe Cooking Habits

Cooking fires are the leading cause of fire injuries among older adults. When using the stove, never leave cooking food unattended. If you need to step away, turn it off. Also, wear tight-fitting clothing when cooking over an open flame; a dangling sleeve can catch fire easily. Keep towels and potholders away from the flame.

Change Unsafe Heating Practices

Install and maintain heating equipment correctly. Do not store newspapers, rags, or other combustible materials near a furnace, hot water heater, or space heater. Keep flammable materials, such as curtains or furniture, at least three feet from space heaters. Never use a stove as a substitute for a furnace or space heater.