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Preventing Fires In Your Home

Fire extinguisher

Print the full article here!

The major causes of house fires are:

Cooking accidents

  • Unattended stoves and ovens
  • Grease fires
  • Spilling oil

Overloaded or damaged electrical cords

Smoking related accidents

The risk of fires at home increases during cold weather:

Heaters that aren’t used properly, especially:

  • Portable space heaters
  • Fireplaces
  • Wood stoves

Candles can also start fires.

Heat your home safely.

Place space heaters at least 3 feet away from anything that can burn, like:

  • Bedding
  • Clothes
  • Curtains
  • Carpets

Clean and clear the space around heating vents.

Use space heaters safely.

Always turn space heaters off when leaving a room or going to sleep.

Plug space heaters directly into a wall outlet. Don’t use extension cords.

Keep pets and children away from space heaters.

This sheet will help you and your support person learn more about space heater safety.

Make your fireplace safe.

Use a screen (mesh or glass) in front of a fire.

Only burn wood. Paper or pine boughs make dangerous sparks.

Never use lighter fluid in a fireplace.

Have your chimney inspected and cleaned each year.

  • Check with your local fire department about inspections and codes.

Make your kitchen safe.

Cook carefully.

  • When you leave the kitchen, turn off the stove.
  • Clean the stove and oven often to remove grease.
  • Keep potholders and oven mitts nearby
  • (but don’t keep them near the burner).
  • Don’t wear loose clothing when cooking.
  • Teach others to be careful near the stove.

Keep a fire extinguisher in your kitchen and know how to use it.

Other ways you can prevent home fires.

Put a smoke alarm on each floor, and in each bedroom and living area.

  • Push the “test” button every month and make sure you know the sound.
  • Replace the batteries every six months.

Check your extension cords.

  • Don’t overload them with plugs.
  • Replace damaged or frayed cords.
  • Don’t put them under rugs.

More tips to prevent home fires.

Always blow out candles when you leave a room or go to sleep.

Never smoke in bed or when you are tired.

If you need to store gas or fuel at home, keep small amounts in an approved safety container outside the house.

Have a plan in case of a fire!

Know two ways to leave your home in case of a fire.

Have a spot to meet and a place to go call for help (like a neighbor’s house).

Practice the plan with your family.

If you run into smoke when trying to escape, go the other way.

If you have to go through smoke to escape a fire, crawl low to the ground.

The risk of poisoning from carbon monoxide also increases in winter.

Carbon monoxide (CO) is a poisonous gas created by things that burn fuel (like heaters, stoves and car engines).

Carbon monoxide is invisible and doesn’t smell.

Breathing CO can cause:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Nausea
  • Dizziness
  • Headaches

Carbon monoxide can be deadly.

If you feel symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning:

  • Get fresh air immediately
  • Open windows and doors
  • Leave the house
  • Ask someone to take you to a hospital emergency room to test for poisoning.

You can prevent carbon monoxide poisoning.

Install carbon monoxide detectors in your home preferably close to bedrooms.

  • CO detectors are different from smoke detectors.
  • Have both kinds and know the difference in how they sound.

You can prevent carbon monoxide poisoning.

Have an inspector check water heaters, furnaces, stoves, dryers and chimneys each year before cold weather comes.

Never leave a car running in the garage.

Never use gas powered generators or charcoal grills indoors.

Learn more about preventing home fires.

Home Fire Prevention and Safety Tips

What You Should Know About Space Heaters

Fire Protection Fact Sheets

Find out more about carbon monoxide poisoning here.

US Environmental Protection Agency – Protect Your Family and Yourself From Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

Last updated on Mon, 06/21/2010 - 13:35