Fire Prevention

Prevention is the best tool for keeping your program safe. By looking at the program’s space with a critical eye, you may stop a problem before it starts.


Check for Fire Hazards


The most effective way to protect yourself and your home from fire is to identify and remove fire hazards. Sixty-five percent of home fire deaths occur in homes with no working smoke alarms. During a home fire, working smoke alarms and a fire escape plan that has been practiced regularly can save lives.


Some common things to check:


  • Check electrical appliances for loose or frayed cords. Do not place wires under rugs.
  • Check for outlets overloaded with plugs; including TV, computer, stereo, and printer.
  • Install GFCI (ground fault circuit interrupter) outlets in your home; especially near sources of water like your bathroom, kitchen and laundry room.
  • Use the correct bulb wattage for home light fixtures.
  • If any appliances spark, smell unusual or overheat, replace or get repaired by a professional.
  • Lamps and nightlights should not touch any fabrics (bedspreads, drapes).
  • Electrical blankets are unplugged when not in use. Check for frayed or loose cords and any odd smell. If a problem is detected, replace.
  • Supervise children around the stove and microwave.
  • Candles should be out of reach of children and pets, curtains and furniture. Never leave candles unattended.
  • Annual inspection of furnace or heating system.
  • Space heaters:
    • Keep out of walking paths.
    • Keep away from children and pets.
    • Placed away from beds.
    • Newspapers, magazines, and any fabrics, including curtains, sheets, tablecloths, are a not within 3 feet of a space heater.
    • Unplug when not in use.
  • In the kitchen
    • Keep an eye on appliances when in use.
    • Make sure appliances are turned off and unplugged when not in use.
    • When using pots and pans, use the rear burners and turn the handles inwards.
    • Do not wear loose clothing while cooking.
  • Fireplaces
    • Keep the fire place clean.
    • Cover your fireplace with a screen.
    • Only burn wood. Papers and other materials can escape while burning and ignite something nearby.
    • The fire should be completely extinguished before leaving the room.
    •  Have your chimney cleaned professionally once a year.

Source: National Safety Council


The State of Maryland Fire Prevention Code (COMAR 29.06.01) establishes basic fire safety standards for homes and buildings. Generally an organization can anticipate regular inspections to make sure that our homes and other buildings meet basic health and safety requirements.  These requirements include the placement and maintenance of smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, fire extinguishers and an evacuation plan/drills.


Smoke Alarms

Smoke AlarmSmoke alarms are a key part of a home fire escape plan. When there is a fire, smoke spreads fast. Working smoke alarms give you early warning so you can get outside quickly. They need to be installed  inside and outside each bedroom and sleeping area, and on every level of the home, including the basement if there is one.  they should be tested once a month to make sure they are working.

Download and read about additional tips regarding smoke alarms.


Carbon Monoxide Alarms

Often called the invisible killer, carbon monoxide is an invisible, odorless, colorless gas created when fuels (such as gasoline, wood, coal, natural gas, propane, oil, and methane) burn incompletely. In the home, heating and cooking equipment that burn fuel can be sources of carbon monoxide.  Carbon monoxide alarms need to be installed in central locations on every level of your home and outside sleeping areas.  Due to the nature of carbon monoxide, never use a generator, grill, camp stove or other gasoline, propane, natural gas or charcoal-burning device inside a home, garage, basement, crawlspace or any partially enclosed area.

Download and read about additional tips regarding carbon monoxide alarms and safety practices.


Fire Extinguishers


fire-extinguisherWhen it comes to fire safety, it is important to know not all fires are the same. There are different kinds of fires because different fuels create different fires, which need different types of fire extinguishers. Fire is an element that rapidly spreads. It is highly self-sustaining, however it can be extinguished when one of the following four elements is removed that make up the four fire elements which are heat, fuel, oxygen and a chemical chain reaction.

Everyone needs to have at least one fire extinguisher at home, but it’s just as important to ensure you have the proper type of fire extinguisher, in the proper place. A typical fire extinguisher contains 10 seconds of extinguishing power. This could be less if it has already been partially discharged. Always read the instructions that come with the fire extinguisher beforehand and become familiarized with its parts. It is highly recommended by fire prevention experts that you get hands-on training before operating a fire extinguisher. Most local fire departments offer this service.


Basic Operating Instructions for Fire Extinguishers

Fire experts recommend the PASS method of operating a fire extinguisher.

P   A   S   S

  • Pull the Pin at the top of the extinguisher. The pin releases a locking mechanism and will allow you to discharge the extinguisher.
  • Aim at the base of the fire, not the flames. This is important in order to put out the fire, you must extinguish the fuel.
  • Squeeze the lever slowly. This will release the extinguishing agent in the extinguisher. If the handle is released, the discharge will stop.
  • Sweep from side to side. Using a sweeping motion, move the fire extinguisher back and forth until the fire is completely out. Operate the extinguisher from a safe distance, several feet away, and then move towards the fire once it starts to diminish. Be sure to read the instructions on your fire extinguisher different fire extinguishers recommend operating them from different distances. Remember: Aim at the base of the fire, not at the flames!!!!


Watch the video below for more information on fires and using a fire extinguisher: