Home Fire Safety Information

Evansville Fire Department

Home Fire Prevention and Safety Tips

The Evansville Fire Department believes the easiest fire to put out is the one that never starts. Fire prevention is easy and starts with you. Common sense should prevail. The intention of this site is to provide information and reminders how to be fire safe in our everyday lives.

"Don't Get Burned! Be Fire Safe!"

10 Most Common Fire Safety Hazards in the Home

It is unfortunate yet true that many of the over 500, 000 residential fires annually in the United States may have been avoided by increasing awareness as to common fire safety hazards and taking necessary precautions to help prevent fires in the home.

Here are the ten most common fire safety hazards in/around our homes and some tips to help keep your loved ones and property safe.

Safety Hazard # 1 Cooking

Cooking fires are the number one cause of home fires in the U.S. Why? Because people get distracted while cooking, stopping to talk with guests, answer the phone, you name it. But it only takes a minute for food to overheat, boil over and spread a fast moving grease fire.

Tips:

  • Never leave cooking food on the stovetop or inside the oven unattendend.
  • Keep cooking areas free of potholders, rags, curtains, food packaging and other items that can fuel fire.
  • Creat a 3 foot "child free" zone around cooking appliances and keep pets away too.

Safety Hazard # 2 Electrical Fires

From the mid-1960's to mid-1970's, many homes across the U.S. were built or repaired with aluminum wiring. Aluminum and copper expand and contract at different rates which can cause loose connections. A fire may start when a loose connection causes a spark.

Tips:

  • Do not overload outlets by using 3-way outlet adapters and similar devices. Older homes were not wired with today's devices and power loads in mind.
  • Ask your electrician to inspect your home for areas of concern - suspect areas with older wiring and consider re-wiring those areas as your budget allows. Do not do this yourself. Depending upon where you live - some electricians have small infrared scanners available to them that can detect heat build up at junction boxes and along wire runs.

Safety Hazard # 3 Fireplaces and Chimneys

Out of sight, out of mind is true for most homeowners with fireplaces and chimneys. Creosote and smoke create a dangerous coating along the inside of the chimney creating plenty of fuel for fires. All it takes is one spark to touch off this heavy build-up to cause a fire.

Tips:

  • Have a chimney sweep clean your chimney every year.
  • Remember to open your flue for the first fire of the season.
  • Install a spark arrester - a mesh screen - on the top of your chimney to keep sparks rom igniting your roof or debris outside your house.

Safety Hazard # 4 Central Heating

When the first cold weather of the season hits, fire departments brace for an increase in home fires. They know how people put off routine home heating maintenance. They also know that heating systems are the leading causes of fires December, January and February.

Tips:

  • Have your heating system, whether it's gas or oil, serviced and inspected at least once a year, well before the winter's cold weather begins. Preventative maintenance will keep your heating system running safely and efficiently AND inspections performed during maintenance will reveal any areas of concern. Schedule the service by Labor Day and you will have it done in plenty of time.

Safety Hazard # 5 Kerosene and Space Heaters

Although space heater safety has improved since the 1970's, these portable devices used to heat one room or to save money on heating bills are still dangerous if you do not know how to properly use them.

Tips:

  • Always refill kerosene outside after the unit has cooled. Kerosene vapors are heavier than air which means they could flow along the floor of your house and ignite when reaching an ignition source.
  • Keep all space heaters a minimum of four feet away from any combustibles - curtains, furniture, rugs, etc.
  • Always turn it off when you leave the house or go to bed.
  • Create a 3 foot "child free" zone around heating appliances and keep pets away too.

Safety Hazard # 6 Smoking

As you probable realize, many people still smoke. Smoking materials, in fact, are the leading cause of death in fire. That's because many smokers fall asleep while smoking and cigarettes, cigars, matches and lighters can ignite bedding or funiture. As in all fires, the toxic gases given off by the fire will cause death long before the flames reach you.

Tips:

  • Do not allow smoking in your house. If someone smokes outside your house, check for smoldering butts, especially during dry summertime weather.
  • Check couch cushions for still buring cigarette butts, particularly after a party.
  • Never smoke in bed especially when drowsy, medicated or intoxicated.

Safety Hazard # 7 Wildfires

Most people think a wildfire cannot happen to them. The truth is a wildfire will happen wherever conditions are favorable to it - during dry, drought-plagued summers, for example. The difference is that people who live in the Western U.S. are used to them and know what prevention measures to take.

Tips:

  • Remove dead or dying trees and shrubs from the area immediately surrounding your home and yard.
  • Keep dry brush and debris at least 30 feet away from your house.
  • Keep your grass cut short.
  • Clear your roof, gutters and eaves of debris.
  • Use extra caution when "cooking out" in dry seasons.

Safety Hazard # 8 Children

Children are naturally curious and that can be good and bad. There have been numerous cases where children have saved their parents from fire. On the other hand, children have also been know to start fires accidentally. When that happens, many kids get scared and will not tell anyone.

Tips:

  • Teach children never to play with matches and lighters. Begin talking about fire safety with children as young as three.
  • Tell children never to hide during a fire so firefighters can find and rescue them.
  • Plan a family escape plan so every family member knows two ways out and a designated meeting place.
  • Hold practice drills with the children to ensure they are familiar with the plan and how to react should the alarm sound.

Safety Hazard # 9 Candles and Incense

A walk around your local mall shows just how popular candles have become. Teenagers are especially fond of them. As the popularity of candles has risen, so has the number of candle fires.

Tips:

  • Never leave candles unattended. Extinguish them when you leave the room or go to bed.
  • Stop using candles once they have an inch left. The remaining wax is likely to melt and allow the wick to fall outside the candle holder or become exposed to table cloths and ignite a fire.
  • Use sturdy candle holders that are unlikely to tip over.

Safety Hazard # 10 Extension Cords

Chances are you cannot remember when you bought that extension cord you are using. Did you know that extension cords must be rated for intended use? That means while the cord is fine for your electric fan, it might not work safely with your home computer.

Tips:

  • If a cord is frayed or feels warm, throw it away.
  • If you are using an extension cord for longer than two weeks, consider having an electrician re-do some wiring instead
  • Never use an extension cord for heavy-duty appliances such as washers, dryers or dishwashers

You, your family and your property are all very important to us. We hope these home fire prevention and safety tips will help you keep your home and loved ones safe.

Additional free downloads:

  • Summer Fire Safety
  • Fireworks Safety
  • Bar-b-que Grilling Safety
  • Holiday Safety Tips
  • Candle Safety
  • Kitchen Cooking Fire Safety
  • Fire Escape Plan Diagram
  • Winter Heating Safety Tips
  • Fire Safety in the Home
  • Smoke Detectors
  • CO Detectors (Carbon Monoxide)

Kid's Downloads:

  • Pre K Fire Safety Coloring Sheets
  • K - 6 Fire Safety Coloring Sheets
  • FEMA Activity Book

Spanish Download:

  • Diagrama del plan de escape
  • Encuentra estas palabras y frases
  • Home Fire Safety Coloring Book
  • Labertino
  • Preguntas-Respuestas

Fire Preventions and Safety Resources

FireSafety.gov

MySafeHome.org

National Safe Kids Campaign USA

National Fire Protection Association

US Fire Administration

  • Useful Links