General Safety Tips

Heating Equipment

Keep combustibles (paper, drapes, etc.) at least three feet away from all space heaters and furnaces.
Chimneys and vents should be kept in good repair; they should not have holes or corrosion.
Chimneys for solid fuel burning should be checked and cleaned yearly.


  • Use only UL approved appliances.
  • Do not overload outlets.
  • Extension cords are not acceptable.
  • Use fused multi-strips with an on/off switch and built in circuit breaker. Use only one multi-strip per outlet.

Fire Extinguishers

  • Have at least one multipurpose 2A-10BC fire extinguisher.
  • Have it checked yearly.
  • Know how to use it.
  • Know where the extinguisher is.
  • Flammable Liquids:  Store gas, varnish, etc. carefully in sealed containers, away from heat sources. Never store gasoline in basements.

Street Numbers

Numbers must be clearly visible on the front of the house, so that firefighters and paramedics can find your house if you have an emergency.

Fire Drills

  • Practice fire drills in the home.
  • Have two ways out of each room.
  • Windows and doors must be operable (latch, open & close).
  • Have a designated meeting place.


  • Store and dispose of combustibles properly (paper, clothes, etc.).
  • Don't block doorways or aisles to the door.
  • Routinely remove all trash and recyclables so that the collection area remains clean and uncluttered.

Smoking Materials

  • Keep out of reach of children.
  • Dispose of these materials in a covered metal container.

Smoke Detectors

  • Have at least one on each floor level near sleeping areas.
  • Check them weekly.
  • Change your batteries when you change your clocks from daylight-saving time.
  • Refer to manufacturer's instruction for proper installation.

Fire Extinguishers

Portable fire extinguishers can be effective in fighting small, contained fires. Extinguishers are labeled A, B, or C, according to the type of fire they can be used to fight. When using household hazardous materials, have an extinguisher nearby that has been tested and labeled by an independent testing laboratory for use in fighting Class B (flammable liquid) fires. Examples of hazardous, flammable liquids are some oven cleaners, furniture polishes, garden pesticides, and charcoal lighters. Do not use an extinguisher labeled for only Class A (paper and ordinary combustible) fires. These extinguishers use water to fight the fire and could make a hazardous materials fire worse. Hazardous materials fires should be fought only with extinguishers using a dry chemical extinguishing agent. These extinguishers will be labeled for use on Class B:C fires or on Class A:B:C. (Class C fires involve energized electrical equipment.)

Never fight a fire unless you are certain you have the proper fire extinguisher and know how to use it. Before using a portable extinguisher, be sure the fire department has been called or is being called and that everyone else has left the fire area. Also, be sure you have your back to a safe, unobstructed exit. And if the fire begins to spread, leave the area immediately and wait for the fire department.


Have your chimney inspected by a professional before the start of every heating season and cleaned if necessary. Creosote, a chemical substance that forms when wood burns, builds up in chimneys and can cause a chimney fire if not properly cleaned. Always protect your home and family by using a sturdy screen when burning fires. Remember to burn only wood - never burn paper or pine boughs, which can float out of the chimney and ignite your roof or a neighboring home. Never use flammable liquids in a fireplace, such as lighter fluid. If you are purchasing a factory-built fireplace, select one listed or labeled as tested by a laboratory (usually "UL" or Underwriter's Laboratory), and have it installed according to local codes.

Use care with "fire salts," which produce colored flames when thrown on wood fires. They contain heavy metals that can cause intense gastrointestinal irritation and vomiting if eaten. Keep them away from children.
Also, do not burn wrapping papers in the fireplace. A flash fire may result as wrappings ignite suddenly and burn intensely.

Kitchen Safety

Anyone who is responsible for a child's safety (including parents, grandparents, babysitters and older siblings) must have a basic understanding of the fire and burn risks in the kitchen.

  • Enjoy your coffee break, but keep children at a safe distance from all hot liquids. A child's quick movements can knock a cup over or out of your hand, causing a burn.
  • When toddlers are in the home, avoid using a tablecloth. If a child tries to pull himself up by the tablecloth, a heavy object or hot liquid on the table could fall on the child.
  • Keep all hot items near the center of the table, at least 12 inches from the edge, to prevent a young child from reaching them.
  • While cooking, keep young children in a high chair or playpen, at a safe distance from hot surfaces, hot liquids and other kitchen hazards.
  • Use extra caution if you use deep fat (oil) cookers/fryers when young children are present. The fat or oil may reach temperatures over 400 degrees F. Hot grease, fat and oils can very quickly cause severe burns.
  • Keep appliance cords away from the edge of counters, and keep them unplugged and disconnected when not in use. A dangling cord is dangerous because it can be caught in a cabinet door or pulled on by a curious child.
  • Always use pot mitts or potholders to remove pots and pans from the stove.
  • Keep pot handles turned in so the pots cannot be pulled off or knocked off the stove.
  • Store cookies and other foods away from the stove area so no one will be tempted to reach across a hot burner.
  • Store potholders, paper towels, seasonings and other cooking items at a safe distance from the stove.
  • Establish a "safe area" in the kitchen where a child can be placed away from risk but under continuous supervision. Also, consider establishing a "no zone" directly in front of the stove. Teach your child to avoid this area. You can mark the zone with yellow tape, a piece of bright carpet or other material.

Holiday Safety

The holidays mean more parties, cooking, fun - and more risk of fire. In recent years, nearly 600 fires a year have been started by ignition of Christmas trees in the U.S., causing more than $18 million in direct property damages. Follow these fire prevention tips to help keep your family safe during the holidays.

Be Careful When Using Turkey Fryers

Thanksgiving isn't a holiday most people associate with burn injuries, apart from minor burns suffered while wrestling a just-out-of-the-oven turkey onto a carving platter. However, as frying turkeys become more popular, there are safety tips that can help avoid a holiday accident

Here are several safety reminders for users of turkey fryers:

  • NEVER leave turkey fryers unattended.
  • ALWAYS use turkey fryers outdoors.
  • KEEP fryers away from combustible materials.
  • ALWAYS place fryers on a flat, stable surface.
  • NEVER overfill the fryer.
  • ALWAYS follow the fryer manufacturer's recommendations for use.
  • NEVER heat oil above the recommended temperature.
  • ALWAYS use a thermometer to gauge food temperature.
  • NEVER move the fryer once it is in operation.
  • ALWAYS keep children away from the fryer.
  • ALWAYS thaw your turkey completely before placing it in the fryer.
  • ALWAYS make sure the oil is completely cooled before removing it from the fryer.
  • In case of fire, immediately call 9-1-1. DO NOT ATTEMPT TO EXTINGUISH THE FIRE WITH WATER!

Christmas Tree Tips

When purchasing an artificial tree, look for the label "Fire Resistant". Although this label does not mean the tree won't catch fire, it does indicate the tree will resist burning and should extinguish quickly.

When purchasing a live tree, check for freshness. A fresh tree is green, needles are hard to pull from branches and do not break when bent between your fingers. The trunk butt of a fresh tree is sticky with resin, and when tapped on the ground, the tree should not lose many needles.

When setting up a tree at home, place it away from fireplaces and radiators. Because heated rooms dry live trees out rapidly, be sure to keep the stand filled with water. Place the tree out of the way of traffic and do not block doorways.

Light Safety

  • Indoors or outside, use only lights that have been tested for safety by a recognized testing laboratory, which indicates conformance with safety standards. Use only lights that have fused plugs.
  • Check each set of lights, new or old, for broken or cracked sockets, frayed or bare wires, or loose connections, and throw out damaged sets. Always replace burned-out bulbs promptly with the same wattage bulbs.
  • Use no more than three standard-size sets of lights per single extension cord. Make sure the extension cord is rated for the intended use.
  • Never use electric lights on a metallic tree. The tree can become charged with electricity from faulty lights, and a person touching a branch could be electrocuted.
  • Before using lights outdoors, check labels to be sure they have been certified for outdoor use.
  • Stay away from power or feeder lines leading from utility poles into older homes.
  • Fasten outdoor lights securely to trees, house walls, or other firm supports to protect the lights from wind damage. Use only insulated staples to hold strings in place, not nails or tacks. Or, run strings of lights through hooks (available at hardware stores).
  • Turn off all holiday lights when you go to bed or leave the house. The lights could short out and start a fire.
  • Use caution when removing outdoor holiday lights. Never pull or tug on lights - they could unravel and inadvertently wrap around power lines.
  • Outdoor electric lights and decorations should be plugged into circuits protected by ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs). Portable outdoor GFCIs can be purchased where electrical supplies are sold. GFCIs can be installed permanently to household circuits by a qualified electrician.

Decoration Tips

  • Use only non-combustible or flame-resistant materials to trim a tree. Choose tinsel or artificial icicles of plastic or nonleaded metals. Leaded materials are hazardous if ingested by children.
  • Never use lit candles on a tree or near other evergreens. Always use non-flammable holders, and place candles where they will not be knocked down.
  • In homes with small children, take special care to avoid decorations that are sharp or breakable, keep trimmings with small removable parts out of the reach of children to avoid the child swallowing or inhaling small pieces, and avoid trimmings that resemble candy or food that may tempt a child to eat them.
  • Wear gloves to avoid eye and skin irritation while decorating with spun glass "angel hair."
  • Follow container directions carefully to avoid lung irritation while decorating with artificial snow sprays.

Kitchen and Candle Safety Tips

During the holiday season and winter months, decorative candles are a popular item. Candle fires most commonly occur in December, largely because of their popularity for holiday decorating. In recent years, candle fires have been responsible for an average of more than 10,000 fires and 120 deaths annually, according to the National Fire Protection Association latest statistics.

Besides candles, three of every 10 reported home fires start in the kitchen - more than any other place in the house. And the majority of kitchen fires can be traced to unattended cooking. During this busy time of year, it is important to remember the following tips for safer cooking:

  • Turn off and unplug all appliances when not in use. Periodically check on food being cooked in an oven, microwave, or on the stove.
  • Use caution when using electrical appliances. Never plug more than one high wattage appliance into a single outlet. Check appliances for frayed or cracked cords and make sure to have them repaired by a professional technician if needed. Never stand in or near water when using electrical appliances.
  • Keep young children at least three feet away from kitchen appliances when cooking. If you allow older children to cook, supervise them closely and teach them safe cooking practices.
  • Dress appropriately for cooking. Wear short or tight-fitting sleeves and use caution when working near heat sources.
  • Have plenty of fire-resistant potholders and oven mitts ready for use while cooking.
  • Turn handles inward so pots and pans won't be pulled or knocked off the stove.
  • Keep the stovetop clean and clear. Store combustible materials away from heat sources.
  • Save operating instructions for rarely used appliances and reread them before each use.

Spring Cleaning

Spring cleaning is not only a good habit, but it is also good fire prevention. Clutter in basements and garages burns quickly and can get in the way of firefighters trying to put out a fire. A clutter-free basement or garage makes it easier to extinguish fires.

Old Paint

Allow paints to dry and set out cans for curbside trash collection with lids off. Three methods can help dry paint more quickly: add kitty litter, pour paint on a large piece of plastic or plastic-lined box and dry in the sun, or just leave the lid off.

Wood Stains & Turpentine

Evaporate small amounts in open air, away from flame, pets, and children.

Liquids: Bleach, Household Cleaners & Disinfectants

Pour down a drain with plenty of water. This is appropriate for any household drain connected to a City sewer; do not pour materials down drains that are not connected to a municipal sewage system, such as a septic system or storm drain.

Solids: Herbicides, Cleaners, Insecticides, Fertilizer, Rat Poison

Solid materials can be collected with trash at the curb or taken to sanitary landfill if double wrapped carefully.

Flammable Materials

If the material is flammable, such as oil or gasoline, try to use it up if possible. If a small quantity is accidentally spilled and is absorbed with "oil dry," it may go to the sanitary landfill in a fireproof container. However, please alert the landfill attendant because these materials may sometimes spontaneously combust.

Helpful Hints

  • Watch for signal words such as "Caution," "Warning," "Danger," or "Poison."
  • Buy just enough product to do the job. Follow directions on proper use.
  • Do not burn or bury leftover products.
  • Do not reuse chemical containers or mix chemical wastes.