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In the United States, more than 4,000 people die and 25,000 are injured every year in fires. Many of these casualties occur in the home. Often, surviving a fire is not a question of luck, but of planning ahead.

The U.S. Fire Administration, part of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, recommends taking the following steps to keep you and your family safe.

Have At Least One Working Smoke Alarm

  • Buy a smoke alarm at any hardware or discount store (Smoke Alarm Advice). They’re inexpensive and can double you and your family’s chances of surviving a house fire.
  • Install an alarm on every level of your home
  • Test your alarm monthly, and keep it free from dust
  • Replace the battery every year
  • Replace the smoke alarm every 10 years, or as recommended by the manufacturer

Preventing Electrical Fires

  • Never overload circuits or extension cords
  • Don’t place cords and wires under rugs, over nails, or in high-traffic areas
  • Immediately shut off and unplug appliances that sputter, spark, or emit an unusual smell, and have them repaired or replaced as soon as possible

Use Appliances Correctly

  • Follow the appliance’s operating instructions and manufacturer’s safety precautions
  • Unplug appliances when not in use
  • Use safety caps to cover all unused outlets, especially if small children are in the home


  • Portable heaters need space — keep anything combustible at least three feet away
  • If you have a fireplace, keep any fire in it. Use fire screens, and have your chimney cleaned annually.
  • Kerosene heaters should be used only where approved by authorities
  • Never use gasoline or camp-stove fuel in a heater

Home Fire Sprinklers

Your chances of surviving a fire in the home increase greatly by using smoke alarms and home fire sprinklers:

  • They are affordable
  • They can increase your property value
  • They can decrease insurance rates

Plan Your Escape Route

  • Practice an escape plan from every room in your house
  • Caution everyone to stay low to the floor
  • Never open a door that is hot
  • Select a location where everyone can meet after escaping the house
  • Get out, then call for help

Caring For Children

Children are naturally curious about fire, and tragically they set almost 19,000 house fires every yet.

Keep matches and lighters out of their way, and take the mystery out of fire by teaching your children the dangers it can pose.

Caring For Older People

Every year, approximately 1,000 senior citizens die in fires, and many could have been prevented. Seniors can be especially vulnerable as many live alone and may struggle with mobility.

Fire safety questions to ask before you sign a lease

Consider these questions before signing a rental agreement: Are smoke alarms installed, and do they work? How old are the smoke alarms? How often are the smoke alarms checked and batteries changed? Are there at least two ways to exit your living space and building?...

Commuter Programs

Resource Type: Safety & Preparedness

Contact Us

Commuter Programs

Ely Center 103

(202) 510-9594

(202) 651-5144

(202) 651-5651

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