The most important rule of fire safety is – when your home is on fire, sprint out, and don’t look back.
Know one thing: You won’t get an opportunity to flit in and out of your burning house to evacuate your kids, grab your passport, and dig around for your hidden gold stash.
Don’t bank on being lucky. Instead, protect your stuff and prepare so you can get out fast.
When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission. Thanks for your support!
1. Install smoke and fire detectors
Here’s something you know:
Smoke and fire detectors are small devices that can alert you about fires before they spread.
Here’s something you don’t:
A smoke detector needs help. Your help.
Here’s how you do it.
- Install the alarms at locations where a fire is most likely to start (kitchen, bathroom, utility room), as well as in all bedrooms. The hallways outside of bedrooms should also have smoke alarms.
- Once installed, test the alarms every month.
- Make sure the alarms are audible in every part of your home.
- Ensure all residents know the fire alarm’s sound and can respond to it.
- If you hear sounds that aren’t the alarm–like a chirp every few minutes–it’s probably the low battery indicator. Change the batteries in any chirpy smoke alarms.
- Replace fire alarms every 10 years.
2. Check the cords/cables to your electronic devices
- Invest in fire retardant cables and extension cords, which will help limit the spread of an electric fire and could save your electronics.
- Regularly check your devices for overheating issues. Overheating is the main reason electronics catch fire. Most modern appliances shut off automatically when they overheat, but if yours ever feel hot, turn them off, make sure they have enough ventilation, and keep them away from flammable items.
3. Prepare a fire-safety drill, and practice it
To prepare for a fire drill:
- Make a map of your home showing the various rooms with their entrances and exits.
- Draw the escape routes on the map and discuss with your household how to safely exit during a fire: stay low, cover your nose and mouth, and feel doors before opening (hot doors have fire behind them).
- Agree on a safe outdoor meeting place where you will reunite after you escape.
- If you have any locks on your doors or windows, make sure everyone knows how to open them. Window screens are also tricky unless you have practiced removing them.
- If your house has more than one story, get fire ladders to make window escapes easier. Practice using the ladder during your drills.
- Practice the drill at least twice every year with your entire family/residents of the house.
4. Keep essentials safe
- Buy a fire-proof safe and tuck in your irreplaceable items (cash, important papers, jewelry, and other expensive possessions).
- Make your furniture more fire retardant with a one-time spray so they’ll sustain minimal fire damage.
- Use fire-retardant paint for the walls to minimize structural damage in the event of a home fire.
5. Purchase the right (kind and quantity of) fire extinguishers
- Keep at least one fire extinguisher on every floor of your house, including the basement and attic.
- If you’re going to ignore that tip, make sure you have one in the kitchen, at the very least. Fire blankets are awesome to keep in the kitchen, as well!
- If you have a wood stove, oil furnace, or other non-electric heating source at home, keeping a fire extinguisher nearby is also a great idea.
- Small fire extinguishers work well for extra protection in bedrooms and bathrooms.
- Keep a fire extinguisher in your garage or on the porch so you can quickly respond to outdoor fires.
Make your entire family practice with whatever fire extinguishers you purchase.
Remember to P.A.S.S.
PULL… Pull the pin. AIM… Aim low, at the base of the fire. SQUEEZE… Squeeze the handle. SWEEP… Sweep the spray from side to side.
6. Hope for the best, but keep a plan ready for the worst
- Make sure everyone knows which relative to contact in case they forget the meeting place or can’t get there safely. Having a single emergency contact will help everyone reunite sooner.
- Show everyone in your household how to safely shut down gas and power supplies.
- Teach your kids (and adults, if they don’t already know) to STOP, DROP, and ROLL in case their clothes catch fire.
- Ensure that the kids know how to reach you: they should be able to give your name (it’s not “mom” or “dad’) and should know your phone number.
- Teach your kids how to dial 911, ask for help, and give their home address. Make it fun!