The best home fire safety tips focus on preventing fires and making sure each family member knows what to do in case of an emergency. Scanning the home for potential fire hazards and making a fire prevention plan helps reduce the risk of accidents. Some fires are unavoidable, so knowing what to do in the event of a home fire can minimize the risk of injury and damage.
Working smoke detectors are extremely important to home fire safety. There should be at least one smoke detector mounted on or just below the ceiling on every floor. Replacing the batteries at least once a year and testing smoke detectors once a month helps ensure the unit is in working order and will sound an alarm in case of fire.
Keeping objects and furniture at least 3 feet (about 1 m) away from heat vents, wood stoves, and portable heaters will minimize the risk of a home fire. Soft material can ignite quickly and pose a fire hazard. Space heaters should be placed on the floor with their cords unobstructed by furniture or carpets. Unplugging or turning off supplemental heaters in other rooms while sleeping reduces the risk of something igniting during the night.
Storing pot holders, towels, and combustible fluids away from stoves, particularly gas stoves, increases home fire safety in the event of a stove fire. Loose clothing can ignite while cooking, so it is important to roll long sleeves up or secure them with elastic bands while cooking. Keep candy, cookies, and other items that attract children away from stoves.
Unplugging appliances that are not in use reduces the risk of electrical fires. Do not use higher watt bulbs than what the manufacturer recommends in lamps and wall fixtures. Do not use outlets that spark and stop using any appliances that begin smoking or emit a strange odor. Flickering lights could indicate a wiring issue, and an electrician should be called to inspect the home.
Unattended open flames can also lead to home fires. Do not burn candles or incense in rooms where no one is present. Keep ashtrays in a safe place and empty them frequently to reduce the risk of a fire caused by lit cigarettes. Never smoke in bed to reduce the risk of igniting blankets and mattresses. Store lighters and matches in high, secure cabinets away from heat sources if there are children in the home.
Having an escape plan in case of a fire is a vital component of a home fire safety plan. Make sure each family member knows several ways to exit the home and establish a meeting place far away from the house where everyone can meet if they need to evacuate the home. Teach children to exit the home by crawling on the floor to avoid smoke inhalation if possible. Instruct family members to press a hand against closed doors and other obstructions on their way out of the house to check for heat, which could mean there are active flames behind the door.