Prepare, Prevent & Practice

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Follow these tips to keep you and your family safe.


Working Smoke Detectors

Test your detectors monthly by pressing the test button and listening for the alarm. Change the detector batteries twice a year. Consider doing this at the same time you change your clocks in the fall and spring. NEVER disable a smoke detector. Consider retrofitting with smoke detectors featuring lithium batteries that can last 10 years.

Home Escape Plan

Draw a diagram showing doors and windows. Determine two escape routes from each room. Identify an outdoor meeting place a safe distance from the house where everyone reports. Teach everyone to “Get Out and Stay Out,” leaving the house and not re-entering for any reason. Teach everyone to call 9-1-1 from a neighbor’s or cell phone.

Visible Address

Be sure your address is visible from the street so emergency crews can find your house quickly.


Heating Equipment

Never use charcoal or unvented appliances in your home. Clean/service your chimneys and heating systems annually. Keep combustibles at least 18 inches away from baseboard and portable heaters. Never leave a portable heater unattended in a room or around children.

Matches and Lighters

Keep matches and lighters out of the reach of children.Teach children to tell an adult when they find matches or lighters, and that those items are not toys. Do not allow children to light candles, especially in their bedrooms. Consider using only lighters with child-resistant features.

Electrical Safety

Extension cords should not be used in place of permanent wiring. Do not overload plugs or extension cords! If you cannot avoid using a number of power cords, be sure to use power strips with circuit breakers. Unplug small appliances when not in use. Do not overlook tripped circuit breakers, as they may indicate a dangerous situation.

Smoking and Ashes

Never smoke in bed! Extinguish smoking materials in sturdy, non-tip ashtrays. Do not dispose with trash cans, shrubbery, or ground areas with flammable plant material. Dispose of hot ashes and briquettes in metal containers, not in paper bags, cardboard boxes, trash cans, or plastic buckets. Keep containers of hot ashes and briquettes outside, far away from structures and off of wood decks and patios. Briquettes and ashes can stay hot for several days.


Never leave the room when using burners, especially when warming food. Fats and greases are highly susceptible to ignition if left unattended. In case of grease or pan fire, smother the fire with the lid to the pan or use an extinguisher. NEVER throw water on a grease fire. Keep combustibles away from cooking surfaces, even if the heating elements are not in use. Do not store extra pans or combustibles in the oven.

Flammable Liquids

Store paint, paint thinner, gasoline, and other flammable liquids outside your dwelling and away from heat sources. Rags or combustibles soaked with flammable liquids should be discarded in metal containers with lids, not saved, to prevent spontaneous fires.   


Panic can slow you down — know what to do and how to do it! Teach family members to crawl low along the floor in a smoke-filled room, because the “good air” is near the floor. Spread out a sheet and shake it a couple of feet above the ground to simulate smoke and have everyone crawl very low under it.

Don’t forget to practice crawling down the stairs, feet first for safety. Hold regular fire drills to practice home escape plans. Keep track of how quickly you clear the house. Remember, you may have less than two minutes to escape! Mix it up. Practice a variety of scenarios, just in case!