Fire Corps teams can use Fire Prevention Week, occurring annually in early October, as an opportunity to spread important fire prevention messages and information in their communities as well as conduct special initiatives such as smoke alarm installations and home safety checks. You can use the tips provided below to distribute in your community as part of your Fire Prevention Week campaign.
Also consider submitting Fire Corps' Fire Prevention Week Letter to the Editor to local newspapers to inform the public about the Week and encourage your members of your community to help by volunteering with their local Fire Corps program.
Find more fire prevention and safety resources offered by Fire Corps, including the Home Safety Checklist and Smoke Alarm Order Form, in the Preparedness and Fire Prevention Resources section of this web site.
For more information about the Fire Prevention Week, including planning materials, safety tips, statistical information, and other resources that can be used by fire departments, Fire Corps teams, and teachers, visit www.firepreventionweek.org.
- Smoke Alarm Safety (Word version)
- Kitchen Safety (Word version)
- Cooking Fire Safety (Word version)
- Smoking and Fire Safety (Word version)
- Candle Safety (Word version)
- Child Safety (Word version)
- Burn Hazards Around the Home (Word version)
- Preventing and Treating Burns (Word version)
- Heating Hazards (Word version)
- Stay Warm, but Stay Safe (Word version)
- Electrical Fire Prevention (Word version)
- Practice Your Escape Plan (Word version)
- Start a Fire Corps Program (Word version)
- Resources for your Fire Corps Program
Smoke alarms can act as a warning to get out of a building when a fire occurs, but they are only effective when working properly. Every home and business should be equipped with smoke alarms that are installed correctly and tested regularly. If you are a member of a fire/EMS department or Fire Corps team, consider using Fire Corps to conduct smoke alarm tests and installations in homes. If you are a community member, make sure that your smoke alarms are properly installed, connected, and working.
The right way to install smoke alarms:
- Install smoke alarms on every level of your home, including the basement, making sure there is an alarm outside every separate sleeping area. New homes are required to have a smoke alarm in every sleeping room and all smoke alarms must be interconnected.
- Hard-wired smoke alarms operate on your household electrical current. They can be interconnected so that every alarm sounds regardless of the fire's location. This is an advantage in early warning, because it gives occupants extra time to escape if they are in one part of the home and a fire breaks out in another part. Alarms that are hard-wired should have battery backups in case of a power outage, and should be installed by a qualified electrician.
- If you sleep with bedroom doors closed, have a qualified electrician install interconnected smoke alarms in each room so that when one alarm sounds, they all sound.
- If you or someone in your home is hearing impaired, consider installing an alarm that combines flashing lights, vibration, and/or sound.
- Mount smoke alarms high on walls or ceilings (remember, smoke rises). Ceiling-mounted alarms should be installed at least four inches away from the nearest wall; wall-mounted alarms should be installed four to 12 inches away from the ceiling.
- If you have ceilings that are pitched, install the alarm near the ceiling's highest point.
- Don't install smoke alarms near windows, doors, or ducts where drafts might interfere with their operation.
- Never paint smoke alarms. Paint, stickers, or other decorations could keep the alarms from working.
A life-saving test: check your smoke alarms regularly:
- Test your smoke alarms once a month, following the manufacturer's instructions.
- Replace the batteries in your smoke alarm once a year, or as soon as the alarm "chirps" warning that the battery is low. Hint: schedule battery replacements for the same day you change your clocks from daylight savings time to standard time in the fall.
- Never "borrow" a battery from a smoke alarm. Smoke alarms can't warn you of fire if their batteries are missing or have been disconnected.
- Don't disable smoke alarms even temporarily. If your smoke alarm is sounding "nuisance alarms," try relocating it farther from kitchens or bathrooms, where cooking fumes and steam can cause the alarm to sound.
- Regularly vacuuming or dusting your smoke alarms can keep them working properly. Be sure to follow the manufacturer's instructions.
- Smoke alarms don't last forever. Replace yours once every 10 years. If you can't remember how old the alarm is, then it's probably time for a new one.
- Consider installing smoke alarms with "long-life" (10-year) batteries.
- Plan regular fire drills to ensure that everyone knows exactly what to do when the smoke alarm sounds. Hold a drill at night to make sure that sleeping family members awaken at the sound of the alarm.
- If you are building a new home or remodeling your existing home, consider installing an automatic home fire sprinkler system. Sprinklers and smoke alarms together cut your risk of dying in a home fire by 82 percent – a savings of thousands of lives a year.
* Reproduced from NFPA's Fire Prevention Week Web site, www.firepreventionweek.org. ©2006 NFPA
Many fires, burns, and injuries occur in the kitchen. The following tips will help keep you and your family safe:
- Always use pot holders or oven mitts when putting food in or taking food out of the oven and handling hot items on the stove.
- Don't put any hot foods or liquids near the edge of the counter or table as they could spill, fall, or get knocked over and cause burns.
- Always make sure the stovetop is clean as residue grease can catch fire.
- If a fire should occur on the stove, carefully slide a pan lid over the flames (make sure you are wearing an oven mitt) and then turn off the heat.
- If a fire should occur in the oven, keep the oven door closed and turn off the heat to smother the fire.
- Never leave appliance cords dangling over the counter as children or pets could pull them and injure themselves.
- When microwaving water, let it sit a minute before removing the cup as water heated past the boiling point can erupt out of the cup.
- When using a microwave oven, make sure the containers and wrappings are microwave-safe. Never put metal (such as aluminum foil, staples, metal utensils, etc.) in a microwave.
- Remember that food heated in a microwave can be very hot and use care when removing it or opening lids or other packaging/covers after heating.
- Puncture plastic pouches and plastic wrap coverings before heating items in a microwave to reduce the risk of steam burns.
The majority of home fires start in the kitchen. The NVFC and Fire Corps offer these tips to make your kitchen a safe one.
- Do not wear loose fitting clothing when cooking, as they are easy targets to catch on fire.
- Always turn pan handles in to prevent food spills.
- Make sure that you keep pot holders and towels away from the stove.
- Replace any old or frayed electrical cords on your appliances.
- Never leave your cooking unattended.
- If a fire should occur on the stove, slide a pan lid over the flames and then turn off the heat.
- If a fire should occur in the oven, keep the oven door closed and turn off the heat to smother the fire.
- Always keep a fire extinguisher in the kitchen. Make sure it is kept in an accessible place away from the stove and oven.
- If the fire does not go out quickly, use your escape plan and call the fire department immediately.
In the United States, smoking materials are the leading cause of home fire deaths. A majority of these fires resulted from the careless disposal of smoking materials. The NVFC and Fire Corps provide you with the following tips to avoid such tragedies.
- Never leave a lit cigarette or cigar unattended. They can easily fall off whatever you placed them on and start a fire.
- Don’t smoke in bed. You might fall asleep with the lit product in hand.
- Always use an ashtray. Never put your ashes into a waste basket.
- Always make sure that all smoking products are completely extinguished when disposing of them or before going to bed. Pour a cup of water on them to be sure.
- Never leave matches or lighters within reach of children.
- Always use child-resistant lighters.
The US Fire Administration’s Smoking and Home Fires campaign provides information, tips, and resources for preventing smoking-related home fires. Learn more at www.usfa.dhs.gov/campaigns/smoking/.
- View tips from the campaign.
- Download the Smoking and Home Fires poster.
- Learn how you can spread the campaign in your community.
The NFPA reported that during 2004, approximately 17,200 house fires were caused by candles. As a result, the candle fires led to an estimated 200 deaths, 1,540 injuries, and a direct property loss of $200 million. Below are some guidelines to follow in order to use candles safely.
- Place candles in sturdy, nonflammable holders (metal, glass, ceramic) that are large enough to collect dripping wax.
- Always keep candles out of the reach of children and pets.
- Always attend burning candles. Extinguish all candles before leaving the room or going to sleep.
- Do not carry a lit candle during a power outage; use a flashlight instead.
- Keep candle wicks trimmed to ¼ inch and extinguish when the flame gets too high. Once the candle cools down, re-trim the wick to ¼ inch. This keeps the candle burning slower and with less smoke.
- Do not use lighted candles on or near a Christmas tree.
- Consider using flameless candles. This alternative to traditional candles allows you to enjoy the glow of a real candle without the hazards of smoke, melting wax, or fire. Battery-powered flameless candles can be practically indistinguishable from real candles to the casual observer, with options including real wax, flickering glow, and a variety of pleasing scents.
Children are vulnerable to burns and injury. Below are some simple tips to help reduce the risk of harm:
- Use tamper-resistant electrical receptacles inside the home.
- Keep children up to 3 feet away from the stove, open fires/flames, and heaters.
- Keep matches and lighters in a locked cabinet.
- Be sure to test bath water; a bath should be warm to the touch, not hot.
- Remember, children’s skin is more sensitive and burns easily.
- Never hold a child in your arms while preparing hot food or drinking a hot beverage.
- Make sure children know how to escape the house in the event of a fire. Teach children how to call for help and practice your escape plan.
Reproduced from NFPA's Fire Prevention Week web site, www.firepreventionweek.org. ©2009 NFPA
There are countless safety hazards around the home. Below are suggestions of how to keep your family safe:
- Never leave a portable heater unattended and be sure to keep all flammable objects at least 3 feet away.
- If you have a fireplace, make sure your chimney is inspected and cleaned each year. Also, use a fireplace screen to prevent sparks from igniting objects outside the fireplace.
- Keep all light fixtures and bulbs away from flammable objects.
- Only use extension cords as a temporary measure. A qualified electrician should install additional circuits when necessary.
- Check electrical cords throughout your home and replace them if they are frayed or show signs of wear.
- Remove potential fuel sources from your yard such as tree branches and trash.
Reproduced from NFPA's Fire Prevention Week web site, www.firepreventionweek.org. ©2009 NFPA
Being aware of your surroundings is the best way to reduce the likelihood of being burned. In the event someone is burned, it is important to know the steps for proper treatment.
- Be sure to keep hot foods, liquids, and appliances (such as a curling iron) away from tables or counter edges to avoid them being knocked over or pulled down.
- When using a heating pad, do not use for durations longer than 15-20 minutes and avoid placing objects on top of the pad.
- If someone is burned, treat it right away by applying cool water for 3-5 minutes, and then cover with a clean, dry cloth.
- Remove all clothing, diapers, jewelry, and metal from the burned areas.
- If a burn is severe or bigger than a fist, seek medical attention immediately.
Reproduced from NFPA's Fire Prevention Week web site, www.firepreventionweek.org. ©2009 NFPA.
Nearly half of all home heating fires occur in December, January, and February. The NVFC and Fire Corps recommend these tips to help you stay warm and safe during the winter months.
- Make sure your chimney is inspected and cleaned once a year.
- Dispose of ashes only when they have fully cooled.
- Don’t use an oven to heat your home.
- Install carbon monoxide detectors outside each sleeping area.
- When using space heaters, make sure that there is nothing within 3 feet of it that could burn.
- Always make sure that portable heaters are turned off before going to bed or leaving the house.
Cooler weather will soon be approaching and many people will pull out their space heaters, cover up with electric blankets, or light the fireplace. Here are some safety tips to keep in mind as you turn up the heat this fall and winter.
Space Heater Safety:
- Keep objects at least 3 feet away from a space heater to prevent them from catching fire. Pay special attention to rugs, curtains, and combustible materials.
- Place portable heaters in a low traffic area where people will not be in danger of tripping over them.
- If the heater does not have a thermostat or built-in protection from overturning, replace it with a new heater.
- Unplug the space heater when leaving your home.
- Have a professional examine your chimney annually for problems.
- Avoid the use of gasoline, kerosene, or lighter fluids to light your fireplace. Instead, use small bits of paper or kindling.
- Keep the hearth clear of combustible materials such as wood, books, and loose paper.
- Roll up loose sleeves on shirts, and if you have long hair, make sure it is pulled back to prevent it from catching fire.
- Do not leave the fire unattended for any length of time.
- Always use a screen around the fireplace to keep kids and pets safe.
- Make certain that the fire has completely died out before leaving or going to bed.
- Install a carbon monoxide detector.
*Reproduced from Hearth, Patio, & Barbeque Association (HPBA) web site, www.hpba.org.
Electric Blanket Safety:
- If the blanket gets wet, do not turn it on to dry it.
- When not in use, roll the blanket instead of folding it to ensure that the wires will not be damaged.
- Discontinue use if any of the following apply: wires are poking out of the material, the fabric is unraveling, or if burnt patches of fabric are visible.
- If the blanket is over ten years old, replace it.
* Reproduced from the UK Fire Service web site, www.fireservice.co.uk/safety/electricblankets.php.
Electrical distribution and lighting equipment were involved in an estimated 20,900 reported home fires in 2005. These fires resulted in 500 civilian deaths and 1,100 injuries, with an estimated $862 million in direct property damage per year.
- Keep lamps, light fixtures, and light bulbs away from anything that can burn, such as bedding, curtains, and clothing.
- Replace cracked and damaged electrical cords.
- Use extension cords for temporary wiring only.
- Homes with young children should have tamper-resistant electrical receptacles.
- Call a qualified electrician or landlord if you have recurring problems with blowing fuses or tripping of circuit breakers, discolored or warm wall outlets, flickering lights, or a burning or rubbery smell coming from an appliance.
Reproduced from NFPA's Fire Prevention Week web site, www.firepreventionweek.org. ©2008 NFPA
Here are some fire safety tips to remember when you are practicing your plan.
Escape Plan Essentials:
- Always have at least two ways out of each room, such as doors and windows.
- Make sure that all exits are clear and working. If doors or windows are blocked by items such as boxes or furniture, someone, especially young children, may not be able to move them quickly enough to escape. Test your windows to make certain that they are not stuck shut and screens are removable from the inside. If your windows have bars on the outside, find out if they can be opened during an emergency and if not, have them retrofitted to be opened from inside.
- Teach children how to unlock and open the window in case they ever need to get out. If a screen is on the outside, demonstrate how they can remove it.
- Choose a meeting place where members of your family can assemble once you get out. This location should be safely accessible for all members. For example, if small children are in the family, choose a location where they would not have to cross the street, such as the mailbox, a tree in the yard, or the neighbor’s fence.
- Practice your plan at least twice a year. Make sure that you have also practiced at night because some family members may not wake up to the smoke alarm and the exits are more difficult to find by feeling your way through the dark.
- Call your local fire department and notify them about any special circumstances within your home, such as two babies in one room, someone with a physical disability, or any person with special needs. This ensures the information is available to them before an emergency happens. Also share this information with your neighbors so they may inform the police and fire department in the event of an emergency.
- Once everyone gets out, make sure that they stay out!
Starting a Fire Corps program in your community is a great way to ease the burden on your local fire/EMS department as well expand the services your department can offer. Through Fire Corps, community members assist their local fire department with non-emergency tasks, allowing the firefighters to focus on emergency response duties. Fire Corps members can perform any number of duties, such as promoting fire prevention and safety in schools, businesses, and homes.
Tips for starting a Fire Corps program:
- Download the Fire Department Starter Kit from the Fire Corps Resource Center at www.firecorps.org/departments/start-a-program. This guide has a variety of information to help you establish, expand, manage, and market your Fire Corps program.
- If your department already has a team of community volunteers, register your program with Fire Corps to gain access to resources and funding opportunities.
- Market your Fire Corps program within your department and in your community by using the Fire Corps promotional videos and public service announcements available for free at www.firecorps.org/departments/grow-a-program.
- Implement the 1-800-FIRE-LINE national recruitment campaign in your state and market it in your community. 1-800-FIRE-LINE helps connect community members who are interested in volunteering with their local fire/EMS department.
Learn more about starting a Fire Corps program.
Fire Corps programs can assist communities in taking preventative measures to avoid home fires. Fire Corps teams routinely educate their communities about home safety practices, and home safety checks are conducted by many programs across the country to reduce the risk of fire or injury.
The Home Safety Checklist can help your Fire Corps team implement a home safety check program in your community. The Checklist provides a basic, step-by-step approach to ensure residents in your community are safer and more secure. Use the Checklist to identify hazards in and around the home, as well as hazards that are associated with a variety of household situations, including those where children, older residents, pets, and/or those with disabilities may reside.
To assist your program in providing critical services to your community through home safety checks and other prevention activities, Fire Corps has partnered with First Alert to establish a smoke alarm donation program for registered Fire Corps programs. Your program may apply for these free smoke alarms by filling out the Smoke Alarm Request Form. Please keep in mind that quantities are limited and restrictions apply.