Fire & Burns

Fire Safety: What to know. What to do.

Nearly 90% of all fire-related deaths are in home fires. Because home fires are extremely unpredictable—starting and spreading quickly—make sure you understand the risks, have working smoke alarms, and know what to do in an emergency.

Steps to Safety

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  • Smoke Alarms

    • Install a smoke alarm on every level of your home, including your basement. Place them near sleeping areas, and inside each bedroom. Working smoke alarms reduce the chances of dying in a home fire by 50%.
    • Test your smoke alarms once a month and replace batteries once a year. Smoke alarms do expire—install a new one every 10 years or as recommended by the manufacturer. For more information on smoke alarms, go here.
    • If you are renovating your home or looking to buy a new one, see if you can have a sprinkler system installed. Families with a fire sprinkler system and working smoke alarms, compared to families with neither, decrease their risk of death from a fire
      by 83%.
  • FIRE ESCAPE PLANNING

    • Have a fire escape plan, and practice it twice a year (during the day and night), to make sure your family knows what to do and where to meet in case of an emergency. 
    • Escape ladders belong near each window above the first floor; make sure your family understands how to use them. 
    • Show children how to crawl low to the ground and cover their mouths if there is smoke, and to feel the doors with the back of their hands for heat before leaving a room. 
    • Children can become scared and confused during emergencies, so teach them to never hide from firefighters, or under the bed or in a closet. 
    • Learn more about fire escape planning here.
  • COOKING

    • Never leave a hot oven or stovetop unattended. Unsupervised cooking equipment is the leading cause of home fires. 
    • Keep flammable items, like dishtowels, wooden spoons, cookbooks and packaging materials, away from the stove. 
    • Have a working fire extinguisher in the kitchen, and know how to use it. 
    • Keep children at least three feet away from all cooking areas, including backyard grills and fire pits.
  • FIREPLACES AND SPACE HEATERS

    • Use a sturdy screen in front of your fireplace, to keep little hands out and hot embers in. 
    • Seasoned hardwood, such as oak, ash or maple, burns cleanest. These types of wood produce less creosote—a highly flammable byproduct of burning wood. 
    • Have your fireplace inspected and cleaned at least once a year, to prevent creosote buildup. 
    • Keep space heaters at least 3 feet away from anything that can burn. Monitor children and pets when using the space heater, and be sure to turn off the space heater when you leave the room. 
    • Install barriers around fireplaces and space heaters, to keep children at a safe distance.
  • FLAMMABLE MATERIALS

    • Never leave burning candles unattended, and be sure to put out all candles before going to bed. 
    • Use a sturdy candleholder on an even surface, and keep lit candles at least 12 inches away from anything that can burn, including furniture and decorations. 
    • Use battery-operated candles instead of burning candles whenever possible. 
    • Keep a flashlight handy for emergencies, so you will not need to use burning candles in case of a power failure. 
    • Avoid novelty lighters, or any lighters that look like toys. 
    • Store matches, lighters and other flammable materials in a safe place, or high up out of your child’s reach and sight. Teach them to never play with these things. 
    • Store gasoline only in approved containers, and keep them in a locked location, like a garage or shed.
  • ELECTRICAL

    • Avoid over-plugging. Too many appliance cords in one electrical outlet can cause a fire. 
    • Use ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCI) in all outlets—especially in areas where water is used, like the kitchen and bathroom. Outlets with GFCIs will have a “Test” and “Reset” button on them.
    • Use a surge protector on outlets. Make sure to use only one surge protector per wall outlet.
    • Cover all unused outlets with outlet covers.
  • SMOKING

    • If you do smoke in your home, never smoke in bed or leave burning cigarettes unattended. 40% of all smoking-related fires begin in the bedroom.
    • Always put out cigarettes in a fireproof ashtray located away from materials, like bedding and curtains that could easily catch fire.
  • DURING AN EMERGENCY

    • Get your family out of the home immediately. Once you are safely outside at your specified meeting place, dial 911. DO NOT go back inside. 
    • If you live in an apartment and do not hear the building’s fire alarm, pull the alarm while leaving your floor. Know where the nearest fire escape exits are, and use the stairs to leave. Do not use the elevator. 
    • If you can’t get out, keep smoke from entering the room by covering vents and cracks around the door, then quickly dial 911. Go to the windows and signal for help, using a flashlight or light-colored cloth. 
    • Teach children that if they do catch fire, they should stop, drop and roll.

Did You Know?


Illustration of the number 300 with flames around it.

Each year in the U.S., almost 300 children are killed in home fires.

- Safe Kids Worldwide


The Family Fire Safety Plan


Thank you


Content developed in association with:

Nationwide Childrens Hospital Safe Kids Worldwide

For more information, go to Our Role.