The holidays and Winter time can put homeowners and business owners at high risk for fires. This is due to increased activity at the home, candles and fireplaces running, increased cooking activity at the kitchen and electricity consumption overall. Because of this, we have pooled together helpful tips from real firefighters and fire stations to help you stay safe this time of year.

Fire & Smoke Alarms

Smoke alarms save lives. 3 out of 5 fire deaths in the home occur in when there are no smoke alarms present or with smoke alarms that do not work.

  • Test alarms at least once a month by pressing the test button
  • If the alarm chirps, warning you the battery is low, replace immediately
  • Replace all smoke alarms when they are over 10 years old
  • Alarms that run on household electrical current should be installed by a certified electrician
  • Alarms should be installed at least 10 feet from a cooking appliance
  • Make sure everyone in the home knows the sound of the smoke alarm and how to respond
  • Make sure alarms are installed outside every sleeping room and every floor of the home

Fire & Escape Plans

Fire escape plans can help save lives and keep your family organized during a disaster.

  • Sit down with your family and make a step-by-step plan for escaping from your home during a fire. Draw a diagram of your home
  • Plan two ways out of every room, especially the bedrooms
  • Make sure everyone can unlock all locks and open all windows and doors quickly
  • Ensure that safety bars contain the proper device so that in an emergency, they may be easily unlocked
  • If you must escape from a second-story window, be sure you have a safe way to reach the ground. Make special arrangements for small children and people with disabilities

Child Safety & Fire

Children do not understand the dangers of fire. In fact, children playing with matches and lighters start many of the home fires that kill children. New parents and others who care for babies and small children need to pay special attention to fire safety. Children under age 5 are twice as likely to die in a fire than the rest of us. And when fire breaks out, babies and toddlers can’t escape without your help. Help keep children in your care safe.

  • Calmly but firmly explain to your child that matches and lighters are tools for adults to use carefully. Teach young children to tell an adult if they see matches or lighters
  • Always store matches and lighters out of children’s reach and sight, preferably in a locked cabinet
  • Purchase only child-resistant lighters. Remember: no lighter is child proof
  • Never use lighters or matches as a source of amusement. Children may imitate what you do
  • Always supervise young children closely
  • Prevent fires by practicing and teaching fire safe behaviors in your home. Keep children 3 feet away from the stove when cooking, don’t overload outlets, have your heating systems checked annually and use deep ashtrays and soak the ashes in water, if you smoke

Garage Fire Safety

Garage fires tend to spread farther and cause more injuries and dollar loss than fires that start in all other areas of the home.

  • Store oil, gasoline, paints and varnishes in a shed away from your home
  • Keep items that can burn on shelves away from appliances
  • Plug only one charging appliance into an outlet
  • Do not use an extension cord when charging an appliance

Cooking Fire Safety

Unattended cooking is one of the leading causes of residential fires, resulting in hundreds of thousands of dollars in property loss and numerous injuries each year.

  • Never leave food cooking unattended. Stay in the kitchen or turn off the stove
  • Have a fire extinguisher within 10 feet of the stove on the exit side of the room. A 2-1/2 pound class “ABC” Multi-Purpose Dry Chemical extinguisher is recommended
  • Never use flour or water to extinguish a cooking fire. Flour is combustible and water can spread the fire
  • Keep pan handles turned inwards so they aren’t accidentally bumped or grabbed by children
  • Do not wear clothing with loose sleeves while cooking. Clothing may ignite or catch a pot handle and pull it off the stove
  • Make sure there aren’t any combustible objects such as dishtowels, potholders, decorations or boxes on or near the stove
  • If there is a fire in the oven, turn off the oven and allow the fire to die down before opening the oven door
  • If a fire breaks out in a microwave oven, keep the door closed and unplug the unit. Don’t try to remove burning containers from a microwave

Electrical Fire Safety

Appliances and extensions cords can pose fire risks and can overload your system leading to severe damage.

  • Be sure to unplug all heat-producing appliances like coffee makers, broilers, toasters, irons and heaters when not in use to eliminate a potential fire hazard
  • Heating pads and electric blankets can cause fires. Never roll an electric blanket and never leave a heating pad on for more than 30 minutes
  • Avoid using blow dryers, curling irons, radios, televisions or electric razors around sinks or while in bathtubs
  • After washing a car, do not use electric vacuum cleaners or buffers while in the wet area. Move the vehicle to a dry location before using any electrical appliances, to avoid a shock hazard
  • Place all lamps on level surfaces, away from things that can burn and use bulbs that match the lamp’s recommended wattage
  • Extension cords are designed for temporary use only. If you must use an extension cord, do not overload them with several appliances or use too many cords in one socket. Do not string multiple extension cords together
  • Make sure you use the proper gauge extension cord for the equipment it is operating, especially with power tools and high-wattage appliances
  • Avoid running extension cords under carpeting, rugs, through doorways or across walkways. To avoid tripping or electrical shorting hazards, protect cords routed across walkways with the proper shield

Fire Extinguisher Safety

A fire extinguisher is an important fire protection device to have around the house. The recommended extinguisher for the home is a 2-1/2 pound Class ABC multi-purpose dry chemical extinguisher. Extinguishers are classified depending on the type of material they are suited to extinguish in a fire. (Type A is suited for wood, paper, plastics and other non-metallic solids. Type B is intended for use on burning liquids such as cooking oil, brake fluid, etc. The extinguishing agent used in Type C models does not conduct electricity and therefore is safe to use on electrically charged appliances or outlets.) So, a Class ABC extinguisher can be used in any of the above-mentioned scenarios. Fire extinguishers should be placed within in the kitchen on the exit side of the room, but not within 6 feet of the stove.

  • The extinguisher must be maintained in good working order and serviced when necessary
  • It must be accessible (located in a conspicuous or labeled area)
  • The user must be able to deploy the agent properly
  • If you have any doubts concerning how to use the fire extinguisher or whether you should try to fight the fire, DO NOT fight the fire. Get out of the room and close the door
  • Extinguishers should only be used when the fire has not extended beyond the initial fuel that was ignited
  • Do not try to fight a large fire. Call the fire department immediately
  • Always have an escape route planned prior to using an extinguisher
  • Apply the extinguisher agent from several feet away