A Guide to Home Safety

A Guide to Household Fire Hazards

©2006 Publications International, Ltd. Installing smoke detectors in your home can reduce the risk of deaths due to fire.

If you have ever witnessed a fire, you know the devastation it can cause. Learn how to prevent a fire from happening in your home by reading these safety tips.  

According to the CDC, four out of five deaths resulting from a fire happen in the home. According to the National Safety Council, most of these deaths could be avoided if smoke detectors were properly installed and regularly maintained in the kitchen, stairwells, and near each bedroom. Check the batteries at least yearly to make sure they work.

The American Red Cross reports that 80 percent of all deaths due to fire take place when the family is sleeping. The cause is not the fire itself, but rather smoke inhalation and lack of oxygen. In addition, the fire may trigger the release of poisonous chemicals in upholstery, plastic material, and draperies.

No matter what the construction, no house is completely fireproof, but you can do a great deal to prevent home fires:

  • If there are children in the home, lock up matches and cigarette lighters.
  • Don't hang potholders or dishtowels over the burners on the stove. Store them away from the stovetop.
  • Never smoke in bed.
  • Never leave home or go to bed with your Christmas tree lights on.
  • Never use a higher watt lightbulb than a lamp manufacturer suggests.
  • Use salt or soda to put out a grease fire in your kitchen; never throw water on it.
  • Have an established family escape route and have regular fire drills. If your house has more than one story, keep a fire safety ladder under each bed. Plan ahead where you'll all meet outside.
  • Teach your family the American Red Cross rule if their clothes ever catch on fire: Stop running, Drop to the ground, and Roll over to put out the flames.
  • Keep papers, curtains, and other flammable material away from hot radiators, portable heaters, and lighted fireplaces.
  • Make sure that your child's sleepwear is flame resistant, and wash it according to manufacturer's instructions.
  • Be very careful with portable kerosene heaters. Use them only when you are in the room; turn them off any time you leave the room.
  • For homes with children, put up guards around space heaters, fireplaces, and wood-burning stoves.
  • Don't overload circuits by putting too many plugs in an outlet.
  • For lamps or small appliances, don't use extension cords that dangle and can be pulled. Children can pull the appliance down and injure themselves as well as start a fire.
  • Don't let your children play with firecrackers or any type of explosives.
  • Buy fire extinguishers, and learn how to use them. Place them where they are most likely to be needed, such as the kitchen. Check periodically to be sure they are in good working order.

The American Institute for Preventive Medicine is dedicated to helping people change to a healthier lifestyle through successful wellness programs, products, and publications.

Don R. Powell, Ph.D., is the founder and president of the American Institute for Preventive Medicine. A licensed psychologist, Powell is an authority on the design, marketing, and implementation of community and corporate health education programs. Powell has won numerous awards and has appeared on many television and radio talk shows.

This information is solely for informational purposes. IT IS NOT INTENDED TO PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. Neither the Editors of Consumer Guide (R), Publications International, Ltd., the author nor publisher take responsibility for any possible consequences from any treatment, procedure, exercise, dietary modification, action or application of medication which results from reading or following the information contained in this information. The publication of this information does not constitute the practice of medicine, and this information does not replace the advice of your physician or other health care provider. Before undertaking any course of treatment, the reader must seek the advice of their physician or other health care provider.