More in Fire Safety

Fire Safety and Prevention Checklist

It's not enough to have evacuation plans. It's not even enough to have a fire detector on every floor. Learn what experts say homeowners need to do now

Fire Safety
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As homeowners, it's easy to slap up smoke detectors and put a fire extinguisher in the kitchen. We blow out candles, check the stove, and sleep well, believing that there will never be a fire. And if there is, the alarms will give us plenty of warning. But that's not enough.

Homeowners need to make a far more comprehensive effort to both prevent and prepare for fires, evaluating fire hazards from the basement to the attic and developing escape strategies that involve the entire family and every room of the house.

The good news is there are a lot of simple steps that homeowners can take to keep fires from happening in the first place—if they're willing take some time and keep a close eye on their behavior. Using our fire safety checklist as a guide, you can cut risks and increase your preparedness by spending just an afternoon doing a floor-by-floor home inspection.

DIY Fire Safety Checklist

Basement
Areas around furnace, oil burner, wood stove, and other heat-generating equipment are clear of debris, combustible materials, and rags
Burner-access doors on the water heater are closed to prevent flame roll-out
Breaker panel has not been recalled nor recommended for replacement
Breaker wires are not loose
No signs of erosion or decay on wire insulators
Arc-fault circuit interrupters (AFCIs) have been added for protection from electrical wiring faults, especially in older homes. WARNING: If you're not an electrician, call one. Don't try to fix this yourself
Oily rags are in air-tight containers and away from heat sources
Trash is not stored in the basement
As homeowners, it's easy to slap up smoke detectors and put a fire extinguisher in the kitchen. We blow out candles, check the stove, and sleep well, believing that there will never be a fire. And if there is, the alarms will give us plenty of warning. But that's not enough.

Homeowners need to make a far more comprehensive effort to both prevent and prepare for fires, evaluating fire hazards from the basement to the attic and developing escape strategies that involve the entire family and every room of the house.

The good news is there are a lot of simple steps that homeowners can take to keep fires from happening in the first place—if they're willing take some time and keep a close eye on their behavior. Using our fire safety checklist as a guide, you can cut risks and increase your preparedness by spending just an afternoon doing a floor-by-floor home inspection.

DIY Fire Safety Checklist

Basement
Areas around furnace, oil burner, wood stove, and other heat-generating equipment are clear of debris, combustible materials, and rags
Burner-access doors on the water heater are closed to prevent flame roll-out
Breaker panel has not been recalled nor recommended for replacement
Breaker wires are not loose
No signs of erosion or decay on wire insulators
Arc-fault circuit interrupters (AFCIs) have been added for protection from electrical wiring faults, especially in older homes. WARNING: If you're not an electrician, call one. Don't try to fix this yourself
Oily rags are in air-tight containers and away from heat sources
Trash is not stored in the basement
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Laundry Room
There is no lint build-up inside the dryer or its exhaust duct, and the area behind the dryer is lint-free
Foil or plastic accordion-type ducting material has been replaced with rigid or semi-rigid metal duct

Garage
Oily rags are in air-tight containers and away from heat sources
Trash is not stored in the garage
There is no pull-down stair access to garage attic space that is linked to the main house
Door leading from the garage to the house is solid, has a threshold to block fire from traveling to the house, and weather stripping to prevent carbon monoxide fumes from passing through
Garage is clear of accumulated junk that can facilitate fire
Gasoline is stored away from ignition sources like heat, sparks, and flames and in containers with approved labels.

First Floor
Has a working smoke detector
Cooking surfaces are clean of grease and food build-up
Gas appliance vents are blocked by sheet metal
Towels, curtains, plastic utensils, and pot holders are stored away from hot surfaces
Cookies and other kid-friendly snacks are not stored above the stove
Kitchen has a working fire extinguisher
Closet lights are have covers (not just a bare bulb)
Light bulbs meet the recommended wattage of each fixture
Incandescent lights are not exposed, do not have a shade closer than 12 inches, and are at least 12 inches from combustibles
Furniture meets updated recommendations for fire-resistant upholstery
Fireplace has a screen, surrounding area is clear of debris, and flue is clear of obstructions
Chimney is cleaned annually
Chimney has fire-stop of gypsum board or fire-code gypsum board at each floor penetration
Metal vent areas around chimney are blocked by sheet metal
Electric cords don't run under carpets and are not pressed against a wall
Extension cords and outlets are not overloaded (powering too many devices)
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Upstairs

 

Upstairs

Mattresses were made after 1973
Each bedroom and hallway has a working smoke detector
Closet lights are not exposed
Light bulbs meet the recommended wattage of each fixture
Incandescent lights are not exposed, do not have a shade, and are at least 12 inches away from combustibles
Electric cords don't run under carpets and are not pressed against a wall or bed
Extension cords and outlets are not overloaded
Portable heaters or other heat-producing appliances are three feet from beds and other flammable materials, such as curtains
Each bedroom has an escape ladder that all members of the family know how to use
Electric blankets are UL-approved, with cords in solid condition
The floor has a working fire extinguisher

Attic
There are no gaps around the chimney that allow you to see the floor below
There is at least a three-inch gap between fiberglass insulation and lighting fixtures
 
 

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