Extinguish fire hazards

You probably don't want to think about a fire in your home. But talking about fire safety and taking precautions can prove to be lifesaving.

Fires are extremely hot and can quickly send deadly smoke and toxic gases through your home, according to the U.S. Fire Administration (USFA). Being prepared can help ensure that everyone escapes without injury if a fire occurs.

The following tips from the USFA and other fire safety experts can help you keep your home and family safe.

Install smoke detectors

A warning at the first sign of smoke can give you and your family the extra few minutes you need to safely exit the house.

Install smoke detectors in every bedroom, on every level of your home (including the basement) and outside all sleeping areas. Test each smoke detector once a month and replace the batteries at least once a year. Replace them immediately if you hear a chirping sound.

Make an exit plan

Every member of your family should know what to do and where to go in the event of a fire. Develop a floor plan showing two ways out of every room in your home. Make sure the plan includes a designated meeting place outside the home. Give every family member a copy of the plan and practice fire drills.

It's also important to keep bedroom doors closed at night to hold back heat and smoke in case of a fire. Teach family members to stay low and crawl toward exits if there is smoke in the home.

Keep fire extinguishers handy

Mount fire extinguishers in the kitchen, garage and anywhere else a fire might start. Keep one near your furnace too. Learn how to use them before there is an emergency.

Don't smoke

It's best not to smoke at all. But if you choose to smoke, do it outdoors. Never smoke in bed or when you are abnormally tired.

Dispose of ashes properly. Try soaking them in water then throwing them away. Warm ashes dumped into the garbage could start a fire.

Careless smoking is a leading cause of fire deaths in the U.S., according to the USFA.

Maintain fireplaces and furnaces

Have your chimney and furnace inspected and cleaned by a professional before winter each year. Keep the fireplace hearth clear of flammable materials, such as newspapers and kindling.

Before using your fireplace, install a screen to prevent sparks from flying.

Avoid electrical hazards

According to the USFA, electrical fires are often caused by misused or poorly maintained appliances, overloaded circuits or incorrectly installed wiring.

To help keep your home safe:

  • Never overload outlets or extension cords.
  • Check appliances regularly and replace any frayed or cracked cords.
  • When buying a new appliance, make sure it meets the UL safety standards.
  • Have a professional replace light switches that are hot to the touch and lights that flicker.

Learn more

For more about fire safety at home, visit the USFA website at usfa.fema.gov.

reviewed 3/27/2019

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