Home Safety
Fire Prevention

Illustration of a smoke alarm warning of a fire

A small fire can grow deadly within one or two minutes. To help prevent a tragedy, closely inspect your home to eliminate potential hazards. Prepare your home for an emergency and teach your family about the dangers of fire.

Working smoke alarms reduce the chances of dying in a fire by nearly 50 percent. They are a critical first step for staying safe, but in order to be effective, smoke alarms have to work properly.

Safety Tips

  • For the best protection, install smoke alarms on every level of your home, in the kitchen and in every sleeping area.
  • Create and practice a home fire escape plan that includes two options to escape your house in case of a fire. Practice your escape plan at night to see if your child awakes to the smoke alarms.
  • Children should know how to respond to the sound of a smoke alarm. Teach them to get low and get out when they hear it.
  • Use common sense in the kitchen. Limit distractions when cooking and do not leave a hot oven or stovetop unattended.
  • Smoke alarms can be battery-operated or electrically hardwired in your home. Replace smoke alarms according to the manufacturer’s expiration date.
  • Ten-year lithium alarms do not require battery changes.
  • If you have hearing problems, use alarms with flashing strobe lights and vibration.
  • Test smoke alarms every month. Replace batteries twice a year, even if alarms are hardwired.
  • Test your smoke alarms at night to see if your child will wake up and respond to the alarm. Children sleep more deeply and may not wake up. If your child does not wake up to the alarm, try an alarm where you can program your voice to alert him or her.
  • Mount smoke alarms high on walls or ceilings since smoke rises. Ceiling-mounted alarms should be installed at least 4 inches away from the nearest wall. Wall-mounted alarms should be installed 4 to 12 inches away from the ceiling.
  • Replace all smoke alarms with 10-year tamper-proof batteries.
  • Consider installing both ionization alarms, which are better at sensing flaming fires, and photoelectric alarms, which are better at sensing slow, smoky fires, or dual sensor alarms.
  • Consider installing a home sprinkler system.
  • Have a designated person to help young children and others who might have difficulty escaping.
  • Designate an outside meeting place, so all members of the family can be accounted for quickly.
  • Have chimneys cleaned and inspected once a year.
  • Second-story and above bedrooms should have a fire ladder installed and a child should practice how to use the ladder.
  • Teach safety. A child that practices ahead of time may have a better chance of surviving.
  • Touch doors with the back of your hand before opening them. If the door is hot, use an alternative exit.
  • Teach children never to go back into a burning building for anything such as a toy or pet, and to call the fire department or 911 from a neighbor’s home or a cell phone outside.
  • Teach children that if their clothes catch on fire, they should immediately stop, drop to the ground and roll themselves back and forth quickly to extinguish the flames.
  • Take children to your local fire station for a tour. Children will be able to see a firefighter in full gear and learn that he or she is someone who saves children and not someone to hide from or fear.
  • Teach children to never touch or play with matches, candles, gasoline or lighters.

Injury Risks Areas