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Fire Facts

  • Fire is the most likely emergency that you and your family may encounter. It is the fourth leading accidental killer in the U.S. behind motor vehicle accidents, falls, and drowning. Each year, more than 4,000 Americans die and more than 25,000 are injured in fires.
  • The heat from a fire can melt clothes and scorch the lungs in a single breath. At floor level, temperatures average about 90 degrees Fahrenheit, but at eye level rise to 600 degrees.
  • Most fires occur between midnight and the early morning hours when most people are sleeping.
  • Eighty-four percent of fires are accidental, such as those caused by poor electrical wiring or careless behavior.

Fire Extinguishers, Smoke Alarms and Carbon Monoxide (CO) Detectors

  • Install A-B-C type fire extinguishers in your home and teach family members how to use them.
  • Smoke alarms and CO detectors should be installed on every level of your residence, outside bedrooms on the ceiling or high on the wall, at the top of open stairwells, or at the bottom of enclosed stairs, and near (but not in) the kitchen.
  • Smoke alarms and CO detectors should be replaced every 10 years.

Flammable Items

  • Never use gasoline, kerosene, or similar flammable liquids indoors. Store them in approved containers in well-ventilated storage areas.
  • Discard all rags or materials that have been soaked in flammable liquids. Discard them outdoors in a metal container.
  • Matches and Smoking
  • Store matches and lighters up high, away from children, and preferably in a locked cabinet.
  • Never smoke in bed when drowsy or under medication.
  • Douse cigarette and cigar butts with water before disposal.

Heating Sources

  • Check with your local fire department on the legality of using kerosene heaters in your community. Fill kerosene heaters outside and ensure they are cool before filling.
  • Place heaters at least three feet away from flammable materials. Make sure the floor and nearby walls are properly insulated.
  • Only use designated fuels for your unit.
  • Ensure there is adequate ventilation for gas/kerosene heaters used indoors.
  • Always follow manufacturer's instructions.

Electrical Wiring

  • Inspect extension cords for frayed or exposed wires or loose plugs.
  • Make sure outlets have cover plates and no wires are exposed.
  • Do not overload extension cords or outlets. If you need to plug in two or more appliances, get a UL-approved unit with a built-in circuit breaker.

Other Tips

  • Sleep with doors closed to reduce potential exposure to smoke and flames.
  • Ask your local fire department to inspect your residence.
  • If you live in a multilevel home or residence, you should purchase a collapsible ladder(s) and practice using it.



  • Develop and practice an escape plan to ensure all family members know what to do in case of a fire.
  • Draw a floor plan with at least two ways of escaping each room.
  • Practice alerting other household members. Keep a bell and flashlight in each bedroom for this purpose.
  • Practice evacuating blindfolded. In a real fire situation, smoke will most likely make it impossible to see.
  • Practice staying low to the ground when evacuating.
  • Choose a safe meeting place outside your home.


  • If your clothes catch on fire, stop, drop, cover, and roll until the fire is extinguished. Never run, this only makes the fire burn faster.
  • If you must escape through a closed door, check for heat before opening. Use the back of your hand to feel the top of the door, the doorknob, and the crack between the door and doorframe before you open it. If it is hot, do not open it, and escape through a window instead. If you cannot escape, hang a white or light-colored sheet outside the window, alerting firefighters to your presence.
  • Crawl low under any smoke to your exit - heavy smoke and poisonous gases collect first along the ceiling.
  • Once you are safely out, call 911 (or equivalent) or you're local EMS number and do not go back inside.


  • Check for injuries and provide first aid and CPR if trained to do so.
  • Do not enter a fire damaged structure unless authorities say it is safe.
  • Beware of structural damage; roofs and floors may have been weakened.
  • If you have a safe or strong box, do not try to open it. It can hold intense heat for several hours. If the door is opened before the box has cooled, the contents could burst into flames.
  • If you need housing or food, contact your local disaster relief service, such as the American Red Cross or Salvation Army.
  • Report property damage to your insurance agent immediately.

Did You Know...

According to FEMA, properly working smoke alarms decrease your chances of dying in a fire by 50 percent. 

*Remember to test and clean smoke alarms and CO detectors once a month and replace batteries at least once a year. A good way to remember to do this is to replace the batteries during National Preparedness Month that occurs every September. Or, as you set your clock back for daylight savings time, remember to check and replace your smoke detector batteries.

Contact your local or Installation's Office of Emergency Management for more information.