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Preventing Home Fires

How to Prevent Home Fires  

Below are ways that you can help keep your home protected from dangerous fire hazards.  

How to avoid cooking fires   

  • The leading cause of kitchen fires is unattended cooking. If you leave your kitchen, even for a brief period, always turn off the stove/oven. 
  • Keep anything that can catch fire (potholders, oven mitts, wooden utensils, food packaging or towels) away from your stovetop. 
  • Keep your cooking area clean. Grease spills and food messes can catch fire the next time you cook.  
  • When using a grill, position it outdoors away from your home, garage, or trees. Keep the grill and any tools, fuel, or parts safely away from children in a controlled area.   

How to avoid electrical fires 

  • Most electrical fires result from problems with faulty electrical outlets and old wiring, overheating light fixtures, and overloaded cords. Routinely check your electrical appliances and wiring.  
  • Replace all worn, old or damaged appliance cords immediately. If any electrical systems give off a shock or spark, contact a professional to do an inspection.  
  • Keep electrical appliances away from wet floors and counters. Be cautious when using electrical appliances in the bathroom and kitchen. 

Using candles safely   

  • Never leave burning candles unattended. If you are leaving the room, blow out the candle completely.  
  • Use candles that are in sturdy metal, glass, or ceramic holders and place them where they cannot be easily knocked down.  
  • Keep candles in an open area far from flammable objects. Do not use candles near furniture, plants, décor, or paper products.  

Install smoke alarms & fire extinguishers  

Every homeowner should be prepared to fight a fire. Both smoke alarms and fire extinguishers are powerful tools to prevent widespread fire loss. The following outlines best practices on how to use each tool.  

Smoke alarms  

  • Types: An ionization smoke alarm is more responsive to flaming fires, and a photoelectric smoke alarm is more responsive to smoldering fires. 
  • Installation: One alarm on each floor, including basements and attics, and in each bedroom. 
  • Maintenance: Test the alarm monthly. Batteries should be replaced at least once per year. Review the manufacturer's instructions for replacement of the entire smoke alarm.  

Fire extinguishers 

  • Types: There are five classes of extinguishers, each class is marked with a class specific color, geometric symbol, and/or picture. Diverse types of fires require distinct types of extinguishers. 
  • Use: When operating a fire extinguisher, remember the word PASS: 
    • Pull the pin. Hold the extinguisher with the nozzle pointing away from you and release the locking pin.  
    • Aim low. Point the extinguisher at the base of the fire. 
    • Squeeze the lever slowly and evenly. 
    • Sweep the nozzle from side-to-side. 
  • Maintenance: The extinguisher should be kept in a safe area with easy access during an emergency. Check the pressure level monthly and review the manufacturer’s recommendations for replacement.  

Know what to do next  

If your clothes catch fire:  

  1. Stop immediately 
  2. Drop to the ground 
  3. Cover your face with your hands 

Roll over continuously to put out the fire. Try to cool the burn with cold water and then seek emergency medical care.  

If you’re in doubt about whether you can control a fire, immediately get out. Close the door behind you to help contain the fire and call 911. Only rescue others if you can do so safely and wait for help to arrive. Do not enter the building until the fire department says it is safe to re-enter.  


The next move in preparing for fire safety is creating a plan. Follow these steps to create a fire escape plan to keep you and your family safe.