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Always call 911 first if you have a fire.

Operating an extinguisher, use the PASS system:

  • Pull the pin out to unlock the operating lever.
  • Aim low; point the extinguisher nozzle (or hose) at the base of the fire.
  • Squeeze the lever below the handle to release the chemical.
  • Sweep from side to side, moving carefully toward the fire. Aim extinguisher at the base of the fire.  Sweep back and forth. Watch the fire area. If the fire re-ignites, repeat the process.

Fire extinguisher

  • Install at least one fire extinguisher in plain view above the reach of children in every home. Position them near escape routes and away from stoves or heating appliances.
  • Keep an all-purpose fire extinguisher in an accessible place. Make sure everyone in your home knows how to use it. A multi-purpose fire extinguisher is best. Look for the rating to be at least 2A:10 B:C on the label. This extinguisher can be used on any commonly caused fire.
  • Extinguishers should be inspected and serviced based upon the manufacturer's service schedule. Rechargeable models must be serviced after every use. Disposable fire extinguishers can be used only once, then must be replaced.

Family escape plan

  • Have an escape plan and have everyone in the family practice the plan.
  • Know two ways out of each room (think doors and windows).
  • Have a meeting spot outside the house.
  • Have all members of the family practice, "Stop, Drop and Roll."

Smoke detectors

  • Be sure to have smoke detectors in all sleeping areas and on every level of your home including the basement. Have a smoke detector either in each bedroom or in the hall adjacent to the bedroom.
  • Test the batteries monthly, and replace them when you turn your clocks forward or back for daylight saving time. If you are hearing impaired, use a tested and approved smoke detector that triggers a strobe light.


  • Most home fires begin with cooking equipment. Never leave cooking unattended.
  • Wear clothes with tight fitting sleeves when cooking.
  • Always set a kitchen timer to remind you to turn off burners and/or oven.
  • Keep stove surfaces free of clutter and built-up grease.
  • Always have a lid or some type of non-combustible flat surface to put over a pan fire so it can be smothered.
  • Never pick up and run with a pan fire.  That has the potential to spread the fire even further.  

Space heaters

  • Keep electric or portable space heaters at least 3-feet from everything, including you! 
  • See winter safety tips for more information.

Prevent clothes dryer fires

  • The National Fire Protection Association reports approximately 14,100 fires per year are caused by improperly vented dryers. 
  • Prevent fires with proper dryer duct installation. The dryer duct should vent directly outdoors - never to a room inside the house. Venting a gas dryer inside is especially dangerous. The air discharge can contain a combination of combustible gases.
  • Avoid using plastic duct work. It could ignite or melt. Install a hard metal duct from the dryer to the outside of the house.
  • Keep the duct free of lint to reduce the chance of fire spreading outside the dryer and into the vent. Never attempt to dismantle a dryer to clean the line between the dryer drum and the heat element. Contact a professional to do that work.
  • Use dryer vents constructed of non-flexible metal that contain as few bends as possible.
  • Clean the lint trap after every use.
  • Call a professional if your dryer is not working properly.
  • Install a smoke detector near your laundry room.


  • Never leave burning candles unattended. Always have them in or on a non-combustible surface away from combustible surfaces.
  • Don't place lighted candles near paper, draperies or clothing and never leave papers near a furnace or fireplace.

Be smoker wary

  • Use large, deep, non-tipping ashtrays.
  • Empty ashtrays often, wetting the contents before dumping into the trash.
  • Never smoke in bed.

General home safety

  • Check smoke detectors the first or last day of every month by testing them with a well-aimed poke from a broomstick.
  • Change batteries when you turn your clocks forward or backward for daylight savings time.
  • Keep your stove company. Kitchen fires often occur when wandering cooks forget that they are cooking. When cooking, wear short or close-fitting sleeves to prevent clothing from catching fire.
  • Keep furniture away from windows so children can be prevented from tumbling out an open window. Drawers have been used by children as stairs, so be sure to anchor tall chests to walls to prevent them from falling over. This will also be helpful in case of an earthquake.
  • Use a step-stool or ladder with nonslip treads, a safety rail and rubber-capped feet instead of climbing on a chair, counter or table to change light bulbs or grab something out of reach.
  • Stairs should be used only for feet, not for storage of toys, laundry, etc.