Before During and After a Fire
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A home fire is reported to a fire department in the United States roughly every 1.5 minutes, and someone dies in a home fire roughly every 2.5 hours. Fire killed more Americans than all natural disasters combined. With these startling statistics in mind, it is important to know what to do before, during and after a fire. It can mean between life and death. Below are some tips and to help you to be ready and survive a fire in your home.

Before a Fire:
The following are a few safety tips to help keep your family safe from a fire breaking out in your home.

Create a Fire Escape Plan:
Fire can grow and spread throughout your home quickly. It is important that you be prepared to react as soon as the smoke alarm sounds. The following tips can help you put together an effective home fire escape plan.

Fire Escape
Remember - "Practice Makes Perfect!" Practice your fire escape plan at least twice a year.
  • Have everyone memorize the emergency phone number of the fire department.
  • Make a plan with every person in your household. Draw a floor plan of your home, showing two ways out of each room, including windows. Don't forget to mark the location of each smoke alarm.
  • Test all smoke alarms monthly to ensure that they work. Replace batteries as needed.
  • Make sure that everyone understands the escape plan. Are the escape routes clear? Can doors and windows be opened easily?
  • If windows or doors in your home have security bars, make sure that the bars have quick-release mechanisms so that they can be opened immediately in an emergency.
  • Agree on a meeting place outside where everyone can meet after they've escaped. Remember to get out first and then call for help. Leave the firefighting to the professionals!
  • Learn more about creating a fire escape plan at NFPA.

Smoke Detectors:
Smoke detectors are the most effective early warning device available.

  • Install smoke detectors on every level of your home and outside of sleeping areas. Make sure that there is an alarm in or near every sleeping area.
  • Don't install smoke detectors near windows, outside doors, or ducts where drafts might interfere with their operation.
  • Test every detector at least once a month.
  • Keep smoke detectors dust free. Replace batteries with new ones at least once a year, or sooner if the detector makes a chirping sound.
  • If you have a smoke detector directly wired into your electrical system, be sure that the little signal light is blinking periodically. This tells you that the alarm is active.
  • Inexpensive smoke detectors are available for the hearing impaired.
  • Learn more about smoke detectors at NFPA.

Fire Extinguishers:
Test your Smoke Detectors
Having working smoke detectors in your home cuts your chance of dying in a fire nearly in half.

If you know how, and when, to use the portable fire extinguishers, you can save lives and property

  • Fire extinguishers should be mounted in the kitchen, garage, and workshop.
  • Purchase an ABC type extinguisher for extinguishing all types of fires
  • Learn how to use your fire extinguisher before there is an emergency.
  • Remember, use an extinguisher on small fires only. If there is a large fire, get out immediately and call 911 from another location
  • You should use fire extinguishers only if you are an adult, and you know how to operate the extinguisher.
  • Learn more about fire extinguishers at NFPA

Electrical Hazards:
Electrical distribution equipment (i.e., wiring, switches, outlets, cords and plugs, fuse and circuit breaker boxes, lighting fixtures and lamps) was the third leading cause of home fires and the second leading cause of fire deaths in the United States between 1994 and 1998

  • Replace or repair loose or frayed cords on all electrical devices.
  • Avoid running extension cords across doorways or under carpets.
  • In homes with small children, electrical outlets should have plastic safety covers.
  • Follow the manufacturer's instructions for plugging an appliance into a receptacle outlet.
  • Avoid overloading outlets. Consider plugging only one high-wattage appliance into each receptacle outlet at a time.
  • If outlets or switches feel warm, shut off the circuit and have them checked by an electrician.
    When possible, avoid the use of "cube taps" and other devices that allow the connection of multiple appliances into a single receptacle.
  • Place lamps on level surfaces, away from things that can burn and use bulbs that match the lamp's recommended wattage.
  • Learn more about electrical safety at NFPA


Careless cooking is the number one cause of residential fires. Never leave cooking unattended.

  • It's wise to have a fire extinguisher near the kitchen. Keep it 10 feet away from the stove on the exit side of the kitchen.
  • Never pour water on a grease fire; turn off the stove and cover the pan with a lid, or close the oven door.
  • Keep pot handles on the stove pointing to the back, and always watch young children in the kitchen.
  • Don't store items on the stove top, as they could catch fire.
  • Keep kitchen appliances clean and in good condition, and turn them off and disconnect them when not in use.
  • Don't overload kitchen electrical outlets and don't use appliances with frayed or cracked wires.
  • Wear tight-fitting clothing when you cook. Here's why: An electrical coil on the stove reaches a temperature of 800 degrees. A gas flame goes over 1,000 degrees. Your dish towel or pot holder can catch fire at 400 degrees. So can your bathrobe, apron, or loose sleeve.
  • Be sure your stove is not located under a window in which curtains are hanging.
  • Clean the exhaust hood and duct over the stove regularly, and wipe up spilled grease as soon as the surface of the stove is cool.
  • Operate your microwave only when there is food in it.
  • Learn more about safety in the kitchen at NFPA