Fire Tips

Table of Contents


Preventing a Fire - Be Aware:

FEMA offers these tips to help you to reduce the risk of fire and protect yourself in the event of a fire.

Smoke alarms

  • Install smoke alarms. Studies show that working smoke alarms decrease the chances of dying in a fire by half.
  • Place smoke alarms on every level of the residence. Good areas include outside bedrooms high on the wall or on the ceiling, at the top of open stairways, at the bottom of enclosed stairways, and near the kitchen.
  • Test and clean smoke alarms once a month and replace batteries at least once a year. Replace smoke alarms once every 10 years. Escaping a fire
  • Identify and review escape routes with family members. Practice escaping from each room.
  • Make sure windows are not nailed or painted shut. Make sure security gratings on windows have a safety opening feature so they can be safely opened from the inside.
  • Consider escape ladders if your residence has more than one level.
  • Ensure that burglar bars and other antitheft mechanisms that block outside window entries can be easily opened from the inside.
  • Teach family members to stay low to the floor when escaping a fire.

Flammable items

  • Clean out storage areas. Do not let trash and flammable items such as old newspapers and magazines accumulate.
  • Never use gasoline, benzene, naphtha or other flammable liquids indoors.
  • Store flammable liquids in approved containers in well-ventilated storage areas.
  • Never smoke near flammable liquids.
  • Discard all rags or materials that have been soaked in flammable liquids after use. Safely discard them outdoors in a metal container.
  • Insulate chimneys and place spark arresters on top. A chimney should be at least three feet taller than the roof. Remove branches hanging about and around the chimney.

Heating sources

  • Be careful when using alternative heating sources.
  • Check with your local fire department on regulations for using kerosene heaters in your community. If allowed, be sure to fill kerosene heaters outside and be sure they have cooled.
  • Place heaters at least three feet away from flammable materials. Make sure the floor and nearby walls are properly insulated.
  • Use only the type of fuel designated for your heating unit and follow manufacturer instructions.
  • Store ashes in a metal container outside and away from the residence.
  • Keep open flames away from walls, furniture, drapery and flammable items.
  • Keep a screen in front of the fireplace.
  • Hire a certified specialist to inspect and clean heating systems.

Matches and smoking

  • Keep matches and lighters away from children, preferably in a locked cabinet.
  • Never smoke in bed or when drowsy or medicated.
  • Provide smokers with deep, sturdy ashtrays. Douse cigarette and cigar butts with water before disposal.

Electrical wiring

  • Hire an electrician to professionally inspect the wiring in your home.
  • Inspect extension cords for frayed or exposed wires or loose plugs.
  • Make sure outlets have cover plates and no exposed wiring.
  • Make sure wiring does not run under rugs, over nails or across high-traffic areas.
  • Do not overload extension cords or outlets. If you need to plug in two or three appliances, get a UL-approved unit with built-in circuit breakers to prevent sparks and short circuits.
  • Make sure insulation does not touch bare electrical wiring. Other important considerations
  • Sleep with your bedroom door closed.
  • Install A-B-C-type fire extinguishers in your home and teach family members how to use them.
  • Consider installing an automatic fire sprinkler system in your home.
  • Ask your local fire department to inspect your home for fire safety and prevention.

Back to the top


During a Fire - Be Safe:

If a fire breaks out, FEMA recommends the following actions:

  • If your clothes catch on fire
  • Stop, drop and roll until the fire is extinguished. Do not run; it only makes the fire burn faster.

To escape a fire

  • Check closed doors for heat before opening them. If you are escaping through a closed door, use the back of your hand to feel the top of the door, the door knob and the crack between the door and door frame before opening it. Never use the palm or your hand or fingers to test for heat. Burning those areas could impair your ability to escape the fire.
  • If the door is hot, do not open it. Escape through a window. If you cannot escape, hang a light-colored sheet outside the window to alert fire fighters of your location.
  • If the door is cool, open it slowly to ensure that fire or smoke is not blocking your escape route. If your escape route is blocked, shut the door immediately and use an alternative escape route such as a window. If clear, leave immediately through the door and close it behind you. Be prepared to crawl. Smoke and heat rise. The air is clearer and cooler near the floor.
  • Crawl low under any smoke to your exit. Heavy smoke and poisonous gasses collect first along the ceiling.
  • Close doors behind you as you escape to delay the spread of the fire.
  • Once outside, stay outside and do not re-enter. Call 9-1-1.

Back to the top


After a Fire - Be Smart:

FEMA offers the following guidelines that address specific situations following a fire:

  • If you are with burn victims or are a burn victim, call 9-1-1 immediately. Cool and cover burns to reduce the chance of further injury or infection.
  • If you detect heat or smoke when entering a damaged building, evacuate immediately.
  • If you are a tenant, contact the landlord.
  • If you have a safe or strong box, do not try to open it. These containers can hold intense heat for several hours. If the door is opened before the box has completely cooled, the contents could burst into flames.
  • If you must leave your home because the building has been deemed unsafe, ask someone you trust to watch the property while you are away.

Additional resources

For more information about smoke and fire safety and recovery tips, check out:

Back to the top


Our Guarantee

To ensure your home, business, and investment are delivered timely, safely and to your satisfaction.