Fire Safety Tips

fire safety

This week is National Fire Prevention Week. Fire Prevention Week was established in the early 20th century to commemorate the Great Chicago Fire of 1871, which happened on October 8th and 9th of that year. The Great Chicago Fire killed over 250 people and burned over 2,000 acres, devastating the city.

The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) takes this week each year to remember the disaster and, more importantly, raise awareness about fire safety. As the weather gets colder, people begin to turn on the heat in their homes, as well as using more heating elements in general. What better time to review fire prevention basics? Check out our fire safety tips to get started.

Smoke Alarms

Smoke alarms are your first line of defense for fire safety. You greatly increase your chances of death or injury from a fire if you don’t have smoke alarms in your home. Follow these guidelines to make sure you’re using your smoke alarms as effectively as possible.

  • Install smoke alarms outside all sleeping areas. Many house fires occur at night, and it’s critical that you be woken by the smoke alarm to evacuate.
  • Install smoke alarms on all levels of your home, including attics and basements. If your home is larger you may need to use more alarms.
  • Test smoke alarms monthly to make sure they are still working.

Have an Escape Plan 

If you ever need to evacuate your home due to a fire, you should know exactly where to go and how to do it. Discuss your escape plan with your family and make sure that all family members, especially children, are clear about the plan and know what to do. You can also practice your evacuation route for extra preparation.

Space Heaters

Space heaters see a lot of use during the winter months, often because they are cheaper to operate than turning up your furnace. Make sure to use space heaters safely. Leave at least two to three feet of space around your space heater. Consult the manufacturer’s instructions for the exact needs of your model. Do not place anything flammable on or near the heater. And remember to unplug the space heater when you’re not using it.

Home Heating

It’s getting cold and your furnace hasn’t been turned on in several months. Make sure your home heating system is clean and in good working order. If possible, have your central heating unit cleaned and inspected by a certified HVAC professional.

Test your furnace before you really need to use it so that you have time to make any necessary adjustments or repairs.

If you have gas heat or use gas in your home for any reason, make sure you have working carbon monoxide detectors.

Fireplaces and Wood Stoves 

As with all heating elements, keep flammable materials far away from your fireplace or wood stove.

  • Make sure anything flammable is far enough away that it won’t catch a stray spark.
  • Have your chimneys and flues cleaned at the beginning of the season.
  • Never use flammable liquid to start a fire in your home.
  • Don’t overload the fireplace or stove with wood as this could result in a fire that can’t be contained.
  • Make sure your fireplace has a screen or glass doors to keep sparks from flying out.


Especially during the holiday season, you may want to use candles for ambiance or aromatherapy. As with all the other heating elements on our list, keep candles away from anything flammable. Always extinguish candles when you leave the room, and do not leave candles burning while you sleep. Do not keep candles where they could be easily knocked over.

How are you and your family exercising fire safety measures? Let us know in comments!

Photo: Meena Kadri
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