Home Safety Resources

What Are Your Two Ways Out?
If a fire occurs in your home, you don't want to be left without a plan of escape! According to the United States Fire Administration, fire can spread rapidly through your home, leaving you with as little as two minutes to escape safely once the alarm sounds. Creating a family escape plan is easy! A great way to start is by following these steps:

  • Walk through your home with your family and identify all possible exits and escape routes;
  • Draw a floor plan of your home and mark two escape routes from each room using an escape planning grid;
  • Get children involved in escape planning;
  • Have a meeting place outside of the home; and
  • Practice your plan at least two times a year.

Your first priority in any emergency is keeping yourself and your family safe. You can find more information about escape planning and fire safety by visiting the U.S. Fire Administration. Also, be sure to watch this special public service announcement.

Working Smoke Alarms
Smoke alarms are an important tool for preventing home fire deaths. If you have a fire in your home, working smoke alarms provide an early warning so you can quickly escape. According to the U.S. Fire Administration (USFA), working smoke alarms cut the risk of dying in a home fire in half.
If your smoke alarm is more than 10 years old, it’s time to replace it. Smoke alarms are one of the best safety devices to protect yourself, your family, and your home. Before you buy and install a home smoke alarm, follow these USFA tips:
  • Choose smoke alarms that communicate with each other, so if one alarm sounds, they all will;
  • Put smoke alarms on every level of your home, in every bedroom, and in the hallway outside of each sleeping area;
  • Place smoke alarms on the ceiling or high on the wall. Check the manufacturer’s instructions for the best place for your alarm; and
  • Use only qualified electricians to install hardwired smoke alarms.
For more information about smoke alarms, take a look at this USFA public safety announcement.

Ring the Alarm
Now is a good time to review fire safety techniques with your family including how to safely put out fires using a portable fire extinguisher. These extinguishers are a valuable resource for immediate use on small fires. Before you consider using an extinguisher there are some very important details to remember:
The U. S. Fire Administration recommends only those trained in the proper use and maintenance of fire extinguishers consider using them when appropriate! Contact your local fire department for training in your area.
  • The type of fire extinguisher you use should match the type of fire. Most extinguishers display symbols to show the kind of fire on which they can be used.
  • If you do not think you would be able to safely put the fire out in five seconds using an extinguisher, do not attempt to use it! Leave the area and call 911.
Should you need to use a fire extinguisher, follow the PASS method.
Learn more about fire safety and how to properly extinguish fires with FEMA’s preparedness activity module, Putting Out Fires.

Preventing Home Fires
Home fires occur more often in winter than in any other season. Here are some steps you can take to prevent home fires:

Test Your Home for Radon
Radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer in the United States and is estimated to be responsible for 15,000-22,000 lung cancer deaths each year. You can't see, smell, or taste radon. It's a radioactive gas that comes from the natural breakdown of the elements uranium, thorium, and radium in soil and rock. Radon can be present in both outdoor and indoor air, but you're likely to get most exposure in your own home. To help protect your health, you can test your home for radon and take measures to lower radon levels if needed.

Carbon Monoxide Poisoning - A Silent Threat
The colder temperatures of the winter season unfortunately result in commensurate increases in carbon monoxide poisonings, as individuals try to keep warm by burning various types of fuels. Carbon monoxide (CO) is a colorless, odorless gas that is produced by the incomplete combustion of materials. During the winter, people generally seal their homes to conserve more heat. However, because the house is more air-tight, it is also more likely to trap carbon monoxide that is often produced by furnaces, for example.

Other sources of CO are generators, vehicles, boilers, gas grills and stoves. In the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy last year, many people were sickened or killed by CO after using portable generators and gas stoves that were not properly ventilated. Symptoms of CO poisoning include headache, dizziness, weakness, nausea and vomiting. Although these symptoms are also common with influenza, CO poisoning is not accompanied by fever which is common in influenza patients. CO poisoning should be considered if a patient's medical history indicates the possibility of CO exposure, or if there are multiple people who live at the same location and exhibit CO-related symptoms. Public health departments and healthcare facilities should remind residents and patients to take appropriate steps to prevent CO-related illness or possibly death. This includes the proper ventilation for fuel-powered equipment, proper placement (at least 20 feet from doors and windows) of generators and grills, and the installation of CO detectors in the home.

Carbon Monoxide Questions and Answers