Thursday, October 11, 2012

50 Fire Prevention Tips

Since we are in the middle of National Fire Prevention Week, I figured these tips may come in handy:

  1. Have working smoke detectors in every bedroom and in the hallway on each floor.  This, more than anything else, can save a life in a fire.  Be sure to test them monthly.
  2. Have a fire escape plan that the entire family practices regularly.
  3. Know that one of the best ways to escape a fire is to cover your mouth with a cloth and crawl to your escape (smoke hangs like a curtain, you can't see through it and you can't breathe in it--the air is fresher and clearer near the floor).
  4. Have charged fire extinguishers in the kitchen and in the garage, the two places where fires are most likely to happen (check them annually to make sure they remain charged).
  5. Know that the best way to put out a fire is to "suffocate" it.  This means putting a lid over a pan that is on fire, smothering flames with a towel (for very small fires), or rolling on the ground to smother flames on your clothing (ie "stop, drop, and roll").
  6. Be super careful when using an open flame in your house (candles, gas stoves, etc).  A curtain or piece of paper blown into the flame can cause a serious fire.
  7. Be super careful when using deep fryers/turkey fryers.  This is the sad result of a recent accident with one of these; note that two of the adults taken to the hospital eventually died.
  8. Create a fire break around your house.  Wildfires will be less likely to reach your home if there is no fuel to carry the fire to your house.
  9. If there is a fire in your house that you can't reasonably extinguish within seconds, get everyone out of the house, go outside, and call 911.  
  10. Have a no smoking in the house rule (which is good for your health anyway) and have a container of sand in your outdoor smoking area where cigarettes can be extinguished.
  11. Keep matches, lighters, and other incendiary devices away from children (they are naturally curious and are likely to experiment with these things even if they know they are dangerous).
  12. If you store cans of gasoline, store them in a well-ventilated outbuilding instead of the garage.
  13. If you have oil-soaked rags, be sure to lay them flat on the garage/shop's concrete floor and let them dry; don't store wet, oily rags in a clump on your work bench or they could spontaneously combust.
  14. Be careful with portable heaters, fireplaces, and wood stoves; a curtain or paper blowing into them can cause a fire.
  15. Beware of stupid teenager tricks.  There are a number of ways--highlighted most effectively on YouTube--that you can set yourself or other things on fire.  Most of these are done by teenagers and range from "super soakers" shooting a flammable liquid to the "breathing fire" stunt.
  16. Know that gasoline doesn't need to be touched with a match in order to ignite.  Simply having gas fumes near a flame source can cause an explosion and fire.
  17. Be sure that any appliance with an electrical cord is checked occasionally to make sure that the cord isn't frayed and could start a fire (or simply unplug the appliance if you aren't using them).
  18. Have your chimney cleaned annually; this can prevent a fire in your chimney from build-up.
  19. Be sure that anyone using sensitive medical appliances (like oxygen tanks) do not smoke near these--it can cause an explosion.
  20. Have your kitchen well organized in order to prevent fire (no clutter, don't place items that you use often and need to reach for above the stove, keep pot handles turned in to the stove instead of sticking out where people walk, keep children away from the stove and don't let them play in the cooking area, etc).
  21. Be careful when cooking (use pot holders, don't start cooking then leave the room, use care when transferring hot foods from the stove or oven, etc).
  22. Consider whether you should connect your fire alarm system to your security system (this is often a good idea for elderly folks, homes with a lot of children, or for those with serious medical issues--it brings help faster, especially for people who may not be able to easily call for help if there is a fire).
  23. Keep your home clutter free.  If you have to escape your home in a hurry and you fall over something, that can keep you from leaving your home and/or make you more likely to suffer from smoke inhalation).
  24. Have a fire escape plan if you have security bars on your doors and windows (this can delay escaping from a fire and/or delay assistance from reaching you if you are stuck in your home).
  25. Keep household chemicals properly labeled and stored to prevent combustion.
  26. Have a family meeting place outside of the home where everyone would gather should they need to escape from the home if it is on fire.
  27. Consider a residential fire sprinkler system.  Again, this is often most critical for the elderly, ill, and homes with many children as it can extinguish small fires and/or give you more time to escape from a burning home.
  28. Make sure everyone in the family knows how to call 911 and report a fire.
  29. Make sure there is a way to escape through the window from second and third story bedrooms.
  30. Keep vital items right near your bed, you won't have time to search for them if you awaken to a fire (these should include a pair of shoes, flashlight, cell phone, keys, wallet, etc).
  31. Know that if you wake up to a fire and the door knob/door is hot, you will need to go out a window--don't risk running through a house engulfed in flames.
  32. Most people who die in house fires die from smoke inhalation, not burns, so be very aware that you need to protect your breathing/airway as you escape from a fire.
  33. Practice evacuating from your home blindfolded, this will simulate what escaping a fire may be like.  Do this carefully of course.
  34. Halogen lights and any other unit that gets very hot (ie: countertop oven, etc) should be placed in a well ventilated place and not near anything flammable.
  35. Be careful during the holidays.  Having guests, many more children who may be unsupervised, dry Christmas trees, celebration candles, etc. can all increase the possibility of fire.
  36. Clean your clothes dryer's lint screen regularly and the exhaust duct occasionally to help prevent fires.
  37. Take extra precautions if you live in a high rise building (escape from a fire can be difficult), apartment (often fires can travel from unit to unit through shared attic space), or manufactured home (older manufactured homes and not all that fire safe).
  38. Be extra careful around the 4th of July.  Fireworks can cause house fires as well as cause damage outside of your house.
  39. Plan for fire safety when you drive.  Carry a fire extinguisher, keep your car in good working order, and be careful when transporting cans of gasoline in your vehicle.
  40. Be extra aware of fire danger when away from home.  Take time to figure out how you would escape from a motel/hotel/concert venue/dorm/mall/supermarket/air plane/etc.
  41. Check the electric system in your home: you should have GFI outlets near sinks and water sources, all outlets should be grounded, replace any burned or burned out outlets or switches, check your breaker box to make sure all switches work, and have any needed electric service completed by a licensed electrician.
  42. If you have any question about the fire "safe-ness" of your home, call you local fire department; they will usually provide free fire safety inspections for people who live in their area.
  43. If you have a generator, make sure it is professionally installed if it will be connected to your home's electrical system.
  44. Learn CPR and basic first aid; in the event of a fire you may be the one providing these life saving skills until help can arrive.
  45. If you have children, incorporate a few drills into their weekly schedule.  While being able to hide in an emergency situation such as a break in is important, they need to automatically know that in a fire they can't hide, they need to escape.  Children who don't learn to escape from a fire often hide which makes it harder for them to be rescued and/or survive a fire.
  46. Teach everyone in the family how to turn off your home's main breaker, water main, and gas main.  During a natural disaster, fires are often started by broken electrical and gas lines.
  47. Keep garden hoses hooked up to your outdoor water spigots.  This will allow you to put out bonfires or small burns and can also be used to wet down your house in the event of wildfire.
  48. Make preventing and preparing for a fire a fun family activity.  Regular practice will demystify the process, allow everyone to develop an automatic "muscle memory" response to a fire, and they will be less likely to freak out because they will be focused on completing the task at hand which they have practiced so many times before.
  49. Keep important belonging (cash, important documents, etc) in a fire proof safe or fire proof gun safe.  
  50. Finally, be careful with fire when you are out of doors.  Put out campfires, don't toss cigarettes into the brush, and be aware of fire danger when you head to the mountains.


  1. Very recently saw a TV News article on that spontaneous combustion tip. I think the item was linseed oil. Scary stuff.

    The advice matched the clean in water and dry on concrete or also insert in water filled can and close tightly for disposal.

    Thanks Code Insight.

  2. Be careful with how you conduct yourself when you’re around flammable materials and use your appliances properly. It’s the simplest fire prevention that you can do! Equip yourself with enough knowledge about fire safety tips so you can save your own life and be a savior of another one’s life as well.