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safety: fires

Fire Safety

Do you know what to do if a fire breaks out? Or how to stop a fire from happening? Click your mouse over the rooms below to test your fire safety smarts.

Safety Upstairs Alarm Heater Stairs Fire Extinguisher Upstairs Fireplace Floor Escape Window Ash Tray Mattress Outlet Matches Clock Phone Stove Fire Extinguisher Downstairs Oven Inside Door Door Knob Dowmstairs Alarm Outside Door Tree Fire Safety

  • More than 4,000 Americans die each year in fires, and approximately 20,000 are injured.
  • In less than 30 seconds a small flame can get completely out of control and turn into a major fire. It only takes minutes for a house to fill with thick black smoke and become engulfed in flames.

Smoke Alarm
Install smoke alarms on every floor of the home, including the basement, and particularly near rooms in which people sleep.

Never place portable space heaters near flammable materials, such as drapery.

Use the stairs. Never use an elevator during a fire.

Fire Extinguisher

  • There are several types of fire extinguishers available, but the best for home use is a multipurpose "ABC" type extinguisher.
  • Extinguishers should be placed along all escape routes from the house.


  • Check to make sure the damper is open before starting any fire.
  • Never burn trash, paper or green wood in your fireplace. Store cooled ashes in a tightly sealed metal container outside the home.
  • Use a screen heavy enough to stop rolling logs and big enough to cover the entire opening of the fireplace to catch flying sparks. Don't wear loose-fitting clothes near any open flame.

Keep Low to the Ground
Smoke rises, so crawl low to the ground where the air will be cleanest.

Never smoke in bed or leave burning cigarettes unattended. Keep ashtrays away from upholstered furniture and curtains.

Mattress & Blankets

  • Replace mattresses made before the 2007 Federal Mattress Flammability Standard. Mattresses made since then are required by law to be safer.
  • Only use lab-approved electric blankets and warmers. Check to make sure the cords are not frayed.


  • Bedrooms are the most common room in the home where electrical fires start.
  • Do not trap electric cords against walls where heat can build up.

Escape Plan

  • Draw up a family fire escape plan and practice it every 6 months. In the plan, describe at least two different ways each family member can escape every room.
  • Use an Underwriter's Laboratory (UL) listed collapsible ladder for escape from upper story windows. Make sure windows, screens and security bars can be easily opened.

Open windows slightly at the top and bottom, but close them if smoke comes in.

Keep all matches and lighters out of reach of children. Store them up high, preferably in a locked cabinet. Teach your child that fire is a tool, not a toy.

Historically, most home fires occur between 8 p.m. and 8 a.m., a time when most individuals are either relaxing or sleeping.

Emergency Numbers
Keep emergency phone numbers and other pertinent information posted close to your telephone.

Fire Extinguisher
Areas that are prone to fires, such as the kitchen, furnace area, garage and workshop, should have a fire extinguisher readily available. The best policy is to have several fire extinguishers located throughout the home where they are easily accessible.

Never leave food unattended on a stove.

Cooking Area
Keep cooking areas free of flammable objects, such as potholders or towels.

Smoke Alarm
Change the batteries in every smoke alarm at least once a year. Test all smoke alarms every month to ensure they work properly. If needed, change batteries promptly.

Inside Doors
Close as many doors as possible between yourself and the fire. Seal all doors and vents between you and the fire with rags, towels, or sheets.

Door KnobsTest doorknobs and spaces around doors with the back of your hand. If the door is warm, try another escape route. If it is cool, open it slowly. Check to make sure your escape path is clear of fire and smoke.

Never go back into a burning building to look for missing people, pets, property, etc. Wait for firefighters.

Meeting Place
Designate a meeting place at a safe distance from the home to meet after escaping a fire.

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