Prepare in a Year: September – Fire Safety

When it comes to fire, be smart!  Below are simple steps to take to keep your home and family safe.

Fire Hazards

Take a few minutes this month to do a fire hazard hunt. Did you know cooking fires are the number one cause of home fires? Start your hazard hunt in the kitchen.

–       Keep towels and wooden utensils away from the stove and burners.

–       Unplug appliances when they are not in use.

–       Never leave your cooking unattended.

–       Continue your hunt throughout your house.

–       Unplug unused appliances, especially heating equipment.

–       Make it a habit of cleaning out the lint trap of your dryer.

–       Avoid clutter near your furnace or heater.

–       Store all flammable liquids in proper containers and away from any heat source.

Plan & Practice

Make a fire escape plan with your whole family! Print off this Home Fire Escape Plan and take a walk through every room in your home.

–       Identify two exits out of every room.

–       Check windows to be sure they can open and are not warped shut.

–       Keep exits free and clear of any obstructions.

–       Teach children how to check a closed door for heat and how to crawl low, under the smoke to escape.

–       Identify a meeting location outside of your home where everyone will meet if you have to escape.

–       Practice, practice, practice!

–       When you test your smoke alarms to ensure they are working properly, incorporate a fire escape drill with your whole family.

Smoke alarms

Smoke alarms save lives! According to the NFPA’s “Smoke Alarms in U.S. Home Fires” report, three of every five home fire deaths result from fires in homes with no smoke alarms. Install smoke alarms in every bedroom, outside of sleeping areas and at one on every level of your home. It is important that you keep doors closed to slow down the spread of smoke and fire. Test smoke alarms every month to know they are working properly. Replace smoke alarms at least every 10 years.

You will typically find two types of smoke alarms at the store. Ionization alarms, which are best at detecting fast-flaming fires and photoelectric alarms, which are best at detecting slow-smoldering fires. You can also find dual-sensor alarms which combine both methods into one unit.

A hard-wired smoke alarm system is preferred. The alarms are wired into your home’s electrical system and if one alarm detects smoke, all alarms in the home go off simultaneously to alert you and your loved ones.

People who are deaf or hard of hearing should have alarms with strobe lights or vibration notification installed.

Did you know West Pierce Fire & Rescue has a smoke alarm program? You can call 253.983.4552 for questions regarding smoke alarms.

Escape Ladders

Consider purchasing a fire escape ladder if you live in a two or three story building. Should you have to escape through a window, a fire escape ladder will ensure that you and your loved ones can escape safely and easily.

For a two-story home, the ladder should be between 10-15 feet and for a three-story home, it should be 20-25 feet. Store your ladder(s) near bedroom windows. Be sure everyone in the household knows where they are located and how to use them (read manufacturer’s instructions).


Fire extinguishers can be helpful in putting out small, contained fires, like the size of a waste bin. Remember, fire can double in size every minute! You should only consider using an extinguisher after you have called 911 and after all members of your home have been alerted.

When purchasing a fire extinguisher, be sure it has a UL label. An A-B-C fire extinguisher is great for your home because it will put out ordinary combustibles such as wood or paper (Class A), flammable liquids like grease and oil (Class B), and electrical energized fires (Class C). Make sure you are physically able to handle an extinguisher, it takes two hands to hold and operate it at the same time. Store your extinguisher in an easily handy area.

To put out a small fire with a fire extinguisher, always have your back to your exit and remember PASS!

Pull the pin, Aim the nozzle at the base of the fire, Squeeze the handle slowly, and Sweep the nozzle from side to side.

A standard UL rated 2A:10BC fire extinguisher will only last 13-15 seconds, if you cannot suppress the fire in that amount of time, it is time to evacuate! For more information on fire extinguisher safety, visit NFPA’s website.

Next month will focus on earthquake safety as we get ready The Great Washington Shakeout on October 18th!



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