Fire Prevention All Over Your Home

Most fatal fires start in the home. You can protect your household and your property by following these fire-safe practices.

Smoke Detectors

Install smoke detectors on every level of your home and especially outside every sleeping area-inside as well, if people sleep with the doors closed.

  • Test smoke detectors monthly by pushing their test buttons.
  • Install new batteries at least once a year or when your detector “chirps” to warn you that battery power is low.
  • Install smoke detectors away from cooking vapors to prevent nuisance alarms and clean your detectors regularly.
  • Smoke detectors should be replaced routinely every 10 years.

For complete home protection, also consider installing automatic fire sprinklers in all new construction and in existing homes. Sprinklers attack a fire in its early stages by spraying water only in the area near the fire and can greatly reduce smoke and damage.

Escape Plans

Plan and practice your escape. Every member of the household should know at least two exits from each room. Make sure that doors and windows needed for escape are unobstructed and easy to open. If an exit involves an upper-story window, make sure there is a safe way to reach the ground. Decide on a meeting place outside the home where every member of the household can gather once they’ve escaped. Know the phone number of the fire department and arrange to use a neighbor’s phone in the event of a fire.

Sleeping Areas

More than half of all fatal home fires happen while people are sleeping. You can save lives by installing smoke detectors and automatic sprinklers and by practicing family escape drills. And remember this fire-safety rule: Never smoke in bed or when drowsy.

Living and Family Rooms

Remove fire hazards and practice fire-safe behavior to prevent home fires. Use extreme caution with cigarettes, matches, and lighters. Provide large, deep, non-tip ashtrays for smokers. Before you go to bed or leave your home after people have been smoking, check for smoldering butts under furniture cushions.

Keep Space heaters and wood stoves at least three feet away from anything that can burn. Always turn space heaters off when you go to bed or leave the home. Never leave children alone near a working fireplace, woodstove, or space heater. Refuel kerosene heaters only with kerosene, outside, and after the heater has cooled.

Use metal fire screen on your fireplace. Have your chimney inspected by a professional once a year and cleaned if creosote has built up in the flue. Use only dry, seasoned wood in wood stoves and fireplaces.


Stove burners and ovens can burn you and start fires. Be attentive and remember these safety tips:

  • Never leave cooking unattended.
  • Keep your stove-top and oven clean and clear.
  • Wear tight-fitting or rolled-up sleeves when cooking to avoid catching your clothing on fire.
  • Keep combustible materials away from the stove. Don’t hang curtains, potholders, or towels near burners or the oven.
  • Turn pot handles inward so they can’t be bumped or pulled over.
  • Never allow children or pets to play in the area where you are cooking.
  • If a small fire starts in a pan, carefully slide a lid over the pan to smother the flames, and turn off the burner. Keep lid on until pan is cool.
  • Never pour water on a grease fire.
  • In microwave ovens, use only those containers designed for microwave use.

Workshops, storage areas, and outdoors

You may have flammable materials in your basement or garage. Exercise fire safety inside and out.

  • If you store gasoline, keep it outside your home in a shed or detached garage. Keep only small quantities in tightly sealed containers. Use gasoline only as a motor fuel, never as a cleaning agent.
  • Always store paint and other flammable liquids far away from appliances, heaters, pilot lights, and other sources of heat or flame. Never smoke near flammable liquids.
  • Have your furnace checked by a professional once a year.
  • Remove trash from your home. Don’t store anything near a furnace or heater.
  • Use outdoor cooking grills with caution. Never use gasoline to start the fire, and don’t add charcoal lighter once the fire has started. You can use dry kindling to revive the flame.
  • Use cooking grills outside only, not on porches or balconies, and away from vegetation and combustibles. Before starting your lawnmower, snowblower, or motorcycle, move it away from gasoline fumes. Let small motors cool before you refuel them.
  • Never store propane cylinders indoors.