Residential Fire Prevention & Safety Tips - Part 1

Certain parts of your home are more prone to fire than others. Look for hazards in the areas outlined below and make repairs as needed.

  • Electrical - Faulty wiring, overloaded circuits, exposed wires, and frayed or pinched electric cords increase fire risk. Verify that your home's electrical system complies with local building codes. Do not overload outlets or power strips. Repair or replace damaged cords. Avoid running electric cords under rugs, over nails, or through high-traffic areas.
  • Kitchen - Kitchen fires are often related to unattended cooking. Stay near the stove while the food is heating. Keep potholders, paper towels, food packaging, and other flammable materials away from burners. Never use the oven to heat your home.
  • Laundry Room - Lint is highly ignitable. Clean the lint filter each time you use the clothes dryer, and periodically remove lint from the dryer vent.
  • Heat Sources (Space Heater, Fireplace, Wood Stove, Furnace) - Use only a UL-approved space heater placed three feet away from curtains, rugs, furniture, and other combustibles. Turn the space heater off when leaving the room or sleeping. Hire a professional to inspect your fireplace, wood stove, and furnace before cold temperatures arrive. Clean and repair the chimney or stove pipe as needed. Burn only seasoned wood. Extinguish a fire before leaving the room or going to bed. Remove cooled ashes and place them in a metal container. Keep combustibles such as newspapers, oily rags, gasoline, or other fluids at least three feet away from any heat source.
  • Bedroom - Do not smoke in bed. An improperly extinguished cigarette can lead to a fire.
  • Deck - Grills, smokers, and electric fryers can overheat or lead to a grease fire. Place outside cooking gadgets at least three feet away from the house, trees, shrubs, or anything combustible.

Remind household members how to respond to a fire emergency. Getting out quickly reduces the likelihood of fire-related injury and death. Focus on the following areas.

  • Smoke Detectors - Install smoke detectors on all levels of your home and near bedrooms. Illinois law requires hardwired smoke detectors in homes built after 1988. Test smoke detectors regularly. Replace batteries every six months if you live in an older home. Consider replacing a ten-year-old smoke detector with one that has a nonremovable battery that beeps when the unit needs to be replaced.
  • Escape Plan - Create a strategy for exiting the house along with a backup plan. Young or special needs children, disabled or elderly adults, and pets may need assistance. The escape plan should anticipate and account for these challenges. Keep exit paths clear. Identify a place outside the home where everyone will meet in case of a fire emergency. Hold fire drills semi-annually.
  • Fire Extinguishers - Keep a chemical-grade fire extinguisher in the kitchen. Placing a multi-use extinguisher on each level of your home is also a good idea. Check the charge status on each fire extinguisher to confirm usability during a fire.