Home Safety

Most home fire fatalities occur at night while people are asleep. If a fire occurs in your home, your chances of survival are increased by 50% if smoke detectors are present and working. For minimum protection, install smoke detectors outside each sleeping area. For homes with more than one floor or basements, place one on every level of your home, including the basement. For maximum life-saving coverage, the Fire Department recommends installing smoke detectors in each bedroom, on every level of your home, and in every living area.

Kitchen Safety

Cooking is the leading cause of home fires and fire injuries in the United States. More than 4,000 Americans die each year in fires and more than 20,000 are injured. Eighty-two percent of all fire deaths occur in the home. Many of these deaths could have been prevented with proper safety equipment and knowledge in place. Deaths due to fires caused by cooking are particularly preventable. Never leave cooking unattended. If you must leave the kitchen while cooking, turn off the stove, or have someone else monitor the kitchen. Remember, a serious fire can start in just seconds. Clean cooking surfaces regularly to prevent grease buildup, which can ignite. If a fire breaks out while cooking, turn off the heat, and cover the pan. Read on for more tips on preventing kitchen fires:

  • Never use water to extinguish a grease fire.
  • Keep a fire extinguisher on hand.
  • Keep the kitchen off limits to young children.
  • When cooking, do not wear clothing with loose sleeves or dangling jewelry.
  • When possible, cook on the back burners, and turn pot handles in so they do not extend over the edge of the stove.
  • Heat oil gradually to avoid burns from spattering grease. Use extra caution when preparing deep-fried foods.
  • Do not store things above the stove. People may get burned while reaching for these items.
  • Never use the range or oven to heat your home.
  • Make sure curtains and/or towel racks are not kept too close to the stove.
  • Be sure microwave ovens have room to “breathe” by having all vents clear of obstructions.

Deep Fryers

  • Deep fryers can be dangerous. If you do not take precautions, you may end up with an injury or fire.
  • To avoid an oil spillover, do not overfill the fryer. If the cooking pot is overfilled with oil, it may spill out of the unit when the food is placed into the pot. Oil may hit the burner/flames, causing a fire to engulf the entire unit.
  • Never use deep fryers on wooden decks or in garages. Fryers should always be used outdoors, at a safe distance from buildings and any other material that can burn.
  • Make sure the fryers are used on a flat surface to reduce accidental tipping. Many units easily tip over, which can cause a hot-oil spill.
  • Never leave the fryer unattended. Most units do not have thermostat controls, and if you do not watch the fryer carefully, the unit has the potential to overheat the oil until it catches fire.
  • Never let children or pets near the fryer. The oil inside the cooking pot can remain dangerously hot, even hours after use.
  • Use well-insulated potholders or oven mitts when touching pot or lid handles. The sides of the cooking pot, lid, and pot handles get dangerously hot, posing severe burn hazards.
  • When frying a turkey, make sure the turkey is completely thawed. Partially frozen turkeys placed into the fryer can cause a spillover effect.
  • Keep an all-purpose fire extinguisher nearby. Never use water to extinguish a grease fire.

Grilling Safety

  • Check grill hoses for cracking, brittleness, holes, and leaks. Make sure there are no sharp bends in the hose or tubing.
  • Never store a spare gas container under or near the grill or indoors.
  • Always keep propane gas containers upright.
  • Move gas hoses as far away as possible from hot surfaces and dripping hot grease.
  • Never store or use flammable liquids, like gasoline, near the grill.
  • Never keep a filled container in a hot car or car trunk. Heat will cause the gas pressure to increase, which may open the relief valve and allow gas to escape.
  • Charcoal produces carbon monoxide, and should never be burned inside of homes, vehicles, tents, or campers, even if ventilation is provided. Freshly used coals should not be stored indoors.


Severe Weather

  • Avoid open areas, such as fields, but do not huddle with others. Spread out at least 15 feet apart.
  • Do not stand near trees or tall poles. Get at least 7 feet away from tall objects.
  • If you are in a lightning-strike zone, get to the lowest point of ground you can, and kneel or squat to minimize your contact points with the ground. Do not lie flat. This will make you a bigger target.
  • Remove steel-toed boots or shoes with metal spikes.
  • Avoid metal objects such as lawn mowers, pipes, golf carts, and clubs.
  • Lightning can move through a home's plumbing, attracted to the metal or water. Avoid using sinks and showers during severe weather.
  • If you are out on the water, get to land. If you are in a pool, get out.
  • Never swim when thunder or lightning is present.
  • Electrical wiring attracts lightning. Avoid using the telephone, except for emergencies.
  • Disconnect computers, TVs, and other delicate electronic equipment. Consider attaching surge protectors to such equipment.
  • Stay away from windows during strong winds. Tree limbs and other wind-borne objects can be a hazard.
  • Rain reduces traction and causes tires to hydroplane. Slow your speed accordingly.
  • Water on roads may be deeper than it looks. Watch for vehicles traveling too fast. They can throw up blinding sheets of water.
  • Pay attention to hazard signs and roadblocks. Ignoring them threatens life and property and can result in enforcement action by police.

Downed Power Lines

  • Stay at least 100 feet away.
  • If the power line has fallen on your car while you are in it, do not touch anything metal in the car, and stay inside until professional help arrives.
  • Never try to help someone trapped by a power line. You endanger your own safety. Instead, call 911 immediately.

Water Safety

  • Learn to swim.
  • Never swim alone.
  • Never swim while under the influence of alcohol or medications.
  • Never swim when thunder or lightning is present.
  • Only swim in approved areas.
  • Wear a Coast Guard approved PFD (personal flotation device) when boating, skiing, or engaging in any other water sports. Air filled devices (inner tubes) are not approved PFDs.
  • Check the depth of the water with the lifeguard (if available) before jumping in.
  • Never dive into unfamiliar or shallow bodies of water.
  • Teach children to swim.
  • Never allow children to be near a pool or any water source alone. Know where your children are at all times. If you leave the pool area, take the children with you.
  • Even children that know how to swim should be supervised. Make sure a responsible adult is designated to watch children during all activities in or near the water.
  • Do not assume that someone is watching. Just because there are adults present does not mean they are watching the swimmers. Adults socializing might not even notice that a child is in trouble until it is too late.
  • Remember that accidents can happen to anyone, no matter what age or swimming ability.
  • Floaties do not take the place of supervision. There is no substitute for adult supervision.
  • Most child drowning incidents occur when an adult "just walked away for a few seconds."
  • Have life-saving devices near the pool, and know how to use them. A pole, rope, and personal flotation device are recommended.
  • Do not allow children to play around the pool.
  • Remove all toys from the pool and deck area after every use so that children are not attracted to them and tempted to gain access to the pool.
  • Just having a pool on your property is a potential drowning hazard, even when there are no swimming activities.
  • Use an approved barrier to separate the pool from the house.
  • Keep large objects such as tables, chairs, toys, and ladders away from pool fences.
  • Post the 911 number on the phone.
  • Learn CPR, and make sure that everyone in your home knows what to do in case of a pool emergency. Every second counts when it comes to drowning.

Winter Safety

  • When purchasing equipment, select ones that have the mark of an independent testing laboratory.
  • Follow manufacturer's recommendations for the proper size heater and for its installation, maintenance, and use. If possible, have it professionally installed.
  • If the pilot light of your heater goes out, allow five minutes or more for the gas to dissipate before trying again.
  • Do not allow gas to accumulate. Light the match before you turn on the gas to the pilot. This avoids the risk of a flashback, which could occur if you allow gas to accumulate before you are ready to light the pilot.
  • IF YOU SMELL GAS, DO NOT ATTEMPT TO LIGHT THE APPLIANCE. Turn off all controls, and open a window or door. Leave the area, then call a gas-service person. DO NOT touch any electrical surfaces.
  • Turn off the heater, ventilate the room, and get into the fresh air if you feel any way other than normal (headache, nausea, fuzzy vision). Remember, carbon monoxide does not have an odor, and you may become unconscious before you realize there is a problem.
  • Turn off the heater if the burner flame looks strange (yellow flames, unsteady flames, or smoky flames).
  • Never use a vented-type heater without proper venting and flue (chimney).
  • Never sleep in a room where a gas heater is burning.
  • Do not put drying clothing or combustibles over heaters.
  • Do not store things near the furnace or heater.
  • Do not operate a gas heater in a completely sealed room. The heater needs a source of fresh air to operate safely and efficiently. “Crack” a window, if needed.

Space Heaters

  • All types of space heaters must be kept at least 36 inches from anything that can burn, including furniture, bedding, clothing, pets, and people.
  • Space heaters must be turned off when you are not in the room or when you go to sleep.
  • Children should be supervised at all times when space heaters are in use.
  • Never use a heater that is in disrepair. Always keep your heater in proper operating condition.
  • Check for fraying or splitting wires or overheating. Have problems repaired by a professional before operating the space heater.
  • Make sure the venting system is open. A blocked vent can cause your space heater to exhaust carbon monoxide into your living space.

Fireplace Safety

  • Check and clean the fireplace and chimney every year. Creosote, a chemical substance that forms when wood burns, builds up in chimneys and can cause a chimney fire if not removed through cleaning.
  • Make sure the fire you build fits your fireplace. Do not overload it with too many logs.
  • Make sure the flue is open while in use.
  • Always use a fireplace screen.
  • NEVER use gasoline, lighter fluid, or kerosene to start a fire.
  • NEVER leave a fire unattended. Make sure it is out before you leave the house or go to bed.
  • Only burn wood. Never burn paper or pine boughs, which can float out the chimney and ignite your roof or a neighboring home. Do not burn wrapping papers in the fireplace. A flash fire may result as wrappings ignite suddenly and burn intensely.
  • If decorating the fireplace with Christmas stockings or other seasonal decorations, do not use it for fires!

Car Fires

  • Pull to the side of the road and stop the car so everyone can get out of the vehicle safely.
  • Turn off the ignition to shut off the electric current and the flow of the gasoline.
  • Put the car in park (set the emergency brake) so it does not move after you are out.
  • Keep the hood closed. The more oxygen you have, the bigger the fire will get.
  • Get everyone out of the vehicle and stay together.
  • Make sure everyone stays at least 100 feet away.
  • Call 911.
  • Never attempt to fight a vehicle fire yourself.