Home Related Fire Safety

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, there are approximately 18,000 people injured and 4,000 killed in home fires each year in the United States. One of the most important fire safety devices for the home is a smoke detector or a smoke alarm. Smoke alarms cut the chances of dying in a fire in half! In a typical home fire, there are only about two minutes to escape. Add panic and confusion and two minutes pass very quickly. Having a home escape plan and practicing it can eliminate much of the panic and confusion. Cooking is the leading cause of home fires and injuries in the United States. Careless smoking is the leading cause of fire deaths. Those at greatest risk are senior citizens and children under the age of five. Their risk of dying in a fire is nearly double that of the average population.

Home Fire Safety Tips

Smoke Alarms

  • Install smoke alarms outside of each separate sleeping area and on every floor of your home, including the basement. Recent studies indicate that as many as 93% of U.S. homes have at least one smoke alarm, however, one in four of those homes have non-working alarms. They have either been disconnected, have the batteries removed to prevent nuisance alarms, or have forgotten to replace the battery.
  • Test smoke alarms every month.
  • Replace the battery at least once a year. Tip: change batteries in smoke alarms at the same time you change your clocks in the spring and the fall.
  • Replace your smoke alarms after 10 years.

Make a Family Escape Plan

  • Plan at least two ways to get out of every room.
  • Practice your plan once every six months. Make sure everyone knows exactly what to do.
  • Designate a meeting place for family members to gather. This assures that everyone has gotten out safely.
  • Make your drill as realistic as possible. Practice escaping from different rooms in the house. The majority of home fires occur at night, so the bedrooms are a great place to start.


  • Careless smoking habits and use of matches and lighters are a major cause of fatal fires.
  • Never smoke in bed or when you feel drowsy.
  • Use large, fireproof ashtrays. Be sure all cigarettes are out before emptying ashtrays. Tip: A good idea is to wet the butts before throwing them away.
  • Check to see that all cigarettes are out before you go to bed.
  • Keep all matches and lighters out of the reach of children.
  • Never throw away a match without checking to make sure it is out.
  • Never smoke while using flammable liquids.

Kitchen Safety

  • Never leave cooking unattended.
  • Keep pan lids and potholders handy. You may need them if you experience a small pan fire.
  • Have appliances repaired if they are not working properly.
  • Don't overload circuits.
  • Never put water on a grease fire.
  • Make sure curtains, dishcloths, grease spills, and other flammable objects are not too close to the stove where they could catch fire.
  • Keep handles of pots and pans turned inwards.
  • Never wear loose fitting clothing or clothing with big sleeves when cooking.


  • Inspect and clean chimneys regularly.
  • Use a fireplace screen to prevent sparks from igniting carpeting and other flammable objects.
  • Check heating systems and furnaces regularly.
  • Place space heaters or portable heaters on a metal or noncombustible surface and keep them away from drapes, clothing, and any flammable material.

General Safety

  • Never leave a young child unattended.
  • Keep matches and all combustible liquids out of the reach of children.
  • Instruct babysitters what to do in the case of a fire. Leave your number and the number of the fire and police department in easy reach. Make sure they know the first rule in a fire - Get everyone out fast and don't go back in.
  • Sleep with your bedroom door closed. It helps to hold back heat and smoke.
  • Allow space around the TV to prevent overheating.
  • "Investigate" why a breaker tripped or a fuse blew.
  • Keep rubbish cleaned out of the attic, basement, garage, and the rest of the house.
  • Store gasoline and other flammable liquids in safety cans well away from heat. Do not store them in the home.
  • Keep exit routes clear in your home.
  • Never leave candles burning unattended or when going to bed.
  • Check all windows that may need to be used as an escape route to make sure they open easily.
  • If clothing should catch fire, it will burn rapidly. Do not run - stop, drop, and roll.
  • Learn how to use a fire extinguisher using the PASS system.
  • There are five classes of fire. Make sure you use the right kind of extinguisher for the fire you are attempting to fight.

If you have questions or need further information please contact the Risk Management, Environmental Health & Safety Office at (989) 774-7398 or ENVIRONMENTAL@cmich.edu. ​