Install a smoke alarm on every level of your home and outside of sleeping areas.

Make sure everyone in your family knows at least two ways to escape from every room of your home.

Plan regular fire drills and practice your fire escape plan at least twice a year.  Make them at different times of the day.  Designate a meeting spot outside and a safe distance from your home.  Make sure all family members know the meeting spot.  Also, practice stop, drop and roll, and low crawling in a fire.

Make sure everyone knows how to call 911.

Consider escape ladders for sleeping areas on the second or third floor.  Make sure everyone in your home learns how to use them ahead of time by reading the manufacturer’s instructions and understanding the steps to use them.  Store them near the window where they will be used.

Once you get out of your home, stay out under all circumstances, until a fire official gives you permission to go back inside.

Never open doors that are warm to the touch.

If smoke, heat, or flames block your exit routes, stay in the room with the door closed.  If possible, place a towel under the door and call the fire department to alert them to your location in the home.  Go to the window and signal for help by waving a bright-colored cloth or a flashlight.  Do not break the window but open it from the top and bottom.

Familiarize children with the sound of your smoke alarm and what to do when they hear it.

Teach your children not to be scared of firefighters.  Take them to your local fire department to meet them and learn about fire safety.

Teach your children to tell you or a responsible adult when they find matches or lighters at home or school.

Keep smoke alarms clean by vacuuming over and around them regularly.  Dust and debris can interfere with its operation.

Install smoke alarms away from windows, doors, or ducts that can interfere with their operation.

Never remove the battery from or disable a smoke alarm.  If your smoke alarm is sounding “nuisance alarms”, try locating it further from kitchens or bathrooms.

Smoke alarms wear out.  Replace your alarms every 10 years.  If you can’t remember when you last replaced them, buy new alarms that are interconnected if possible.  Install them using the manufacturer’s instructions and hire an electrician to install alarms that are hard-wired into your home’s electrical system.

Prevention Tips

Keep all potential sources of fuel like paper, clothing, bedding, or rugs at least three feet away from space heaters, stoves, or fireplaces.

Portable heaters and fireplaces should never be left unattended.  Turn off space heaters and make sure any embers in the fireplace are extinguished before going to bed or leaving home.

If you must use a space heater, place it on a level, hard, and nonflammable surface (such as ceramic tile floor), not on rugs or carpets or near bedding or drapes.  Keep children and pets away from space heaters.

When buying a space heater, look for models that shut off automatically if the heater falls over as another safety measure.

Keep fire in your fireplace by using a glass or metal fire screen large enough to catch sparks and rolling logs.

Have wood and coal stoves, fireplaces, chimneys, and furnaces professionally inspected and cleaned once a year.

Visit for more information on how to prevent heating fires.

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