Introduction > Take the Test > Fire Prevention > Be Prepared > Special Considerations > Smoking and Fires > Fire Safety Quick List
Fire Prevention: Household
Again, taking a few precautions around your home can greatly reduce the risk of fires. Here are some quick tips to help keep your home a safe place:
- Store and use matches, lighters, and candles carefully.
Be sure to keep matches and lighters away from young children and from adults with mental or developmental disabilities. Store them in a cool, dry place away from heat sources (such as stoves or heaters) that could accidentally ignite them. Don't light matches or burn candles around flammable objects (objects that can catch on fire) such as newspapers, cardboard boxes, or curtains. Avoid burning candles near an open window or breeze that could spread a fire and never leave candles burning unattended.
- Store and use flammable liquids carefully.
If possible, store flammable liquids, such as paints, paint thinners, and gasoline, at least 30 feet away from your home (for example, in outdoor sheds or detached garages.) If you don't have access to outside storage, store in well-sealed containers in a cool, dry place away from electricity and heat sources. Never use flammable materials (including things like aerosol cans and nail polish remover) around fire or lit cigarettes.
- Use caution around fireplaces and wood stoves.
Don't stand too close to a fireplace or wood stove. You could get burned or your clothes could catch fire. If you have an open fireplace or stove, make sure it has a screen to protect you (and the surrounding furniture) from sparks. Don't stack flammable things like newspapers, bags, or even firewood too close to a fireplace or stove and never leave a fire unattended. If you are using your fireplace on a regular basis, make sure you have your chimney professionally cleaned every year.
- Never put anything over a lamp, like clothes or a blanket.
Lamps, especially halogen lamps, can give off enough heat to ignite flammable objects. Be sure your lamps have fire-resistant lampshades and are a safe distance from flammable objects. Also be sure that the light bulbs you use are the correct wattage for your lamp or lampshade; if the wattage is too high it can start a fire.
- Have multiple, safe and easy-to-use exits to your home.
This course discusses escape plans and fire drills in more detail later, but be sure that exits such as doors and windows aren't blocked and can be opened easily. If you have safety features such as deadbolts and security bars, be sure that these are in good condition and can be opened easily by people inside the home.
- Check old lampshades, curtains, mattresses and other household objects to make sure they meet fire-resistance standards.
While there's no need to throw out family antiques, sometimes older objects do not meet newer fire standards. For example, the United States Fire Administration recommends replacing mattresses made before 1973, because they did not have same fire standards as today. Other experts recommend using antique lamps and shades for decoration only or with very low-wattage, low-heat light bulbs. Visit the United States Fire Administration Web site for more information.
- Check appliances and electrical cords regularly.
Nothing lasts forever, so regularly check appliance wires when the item is in use. Cords and plugs for appliances should not feel hot when in use.
- Keep at least three feet between heaters and anything can burn.
Keep objects like furniture, bedding and clothing away from radiators and space heaters. Do not leave space heaters on when you are not in the room or when you go to sleep. Not only are they fire hazards, they can also cause carbon monoxide poisoning. For more information on preventing carbon monoxide poisoning and other household safety hints, visit our course on home safety.
- Maintain your heating system.
Whether you have central heating, gas, or electric, make sure that your heating system is maintained, cleaned and checked yearly.
Next: Fire Prevention: Electricity