Fire Prevention for Families
The best way to protect the people and things that you care about from fire is to stop the fire in the first place. There are some simple ways you can prevent a fire from starting.
In Utah, most fires occur while cooking, also causing the most fire-related injuries. Candles, heating, and children using matches and lighters are also common causes of fires and fire-related injuries and deaths.
- To prevent cooking fires, you must be alert. You won’t be alert if you are sleepy, have taken medicine or drugs, or consumed alcohol that makes you drowsy.
Watch what you heat!
- The leading cause of fires in the kitchen is unattended cooking.
- Stay in the kitchen when you are frying, grilling, or broiling food. If you leave the kitchen for even a short period of time, turn off the stove.
- If you are simmering, baking, roasting, or boiling food, check it regularly, remain in the home while food is cooking, and use a timer to remind you that you’re cooking.
Keep things that can catch fire and heat sources apart.
- Keep anything that can catch fire – oven mitts, wooden utensils, food packaging, towels or curtains – away from your stovetop.
- Keep the stovetop, burners and oven clean.
- Wear short, close-fitting or tightly rolled sleeves when cooking. Loose clothing can dangle onto stove burners and can catch fire if it comes in contact with a gas flame or electric burner.
- NFPA discourages the use of outdoor gas-fueled turkey fryers that immerse the turkey in hot oil. These turkey fryers use a substantial quantity of cooking oil at high temperatures, and units currently available for home use pose a significant danger that hot oil will be released at some point during the cooking process. The use of turkey fryers by consumers can lead to devastating burns, or other injuries and the destruction of property.
- Consider using battery-operated flameless candles which can look, smell, and feel like real candles.
- Use sturdy, safe candleholders.
- Protect candle flames with glass chimneys or containers.
- Keep candles at least 12 inches from anything that can burn.
- Never leave a burning candle unattended. Avoid using candles in bedrooms and sleeping areas. Extinguish candles when you leave a room. Keep children and pets away from burning candles.
- Be careful not to splatter wax when extinguishing a candle.
- Never use a candle when medical oxygen is being used.
- Always use a flashlight – not a candle – for emergency lighting.
- Have a three-foot “kid-free zone” around open fires and space heaters.
- Supervise children when a fireplace, fire pit, or other space heater is being used. Use a sturdy, metal screen to prevent contact burns, which are even more common than flame burns.
- All heaters need space. Keep things that can burn, such as paper, bedding or furniture, at least 3 feet away from heating equipment.
- Use heating equipment that has the label of a recognized testing laboratory.
- Never use your oven for heating.
- Install stationary space heating equipment, water heaters or central heating equipment, according to the local codes and manufacturer’s instructions.
— Have a qualified professional install the equipment.
— Make sure all fuel-burning vented equipment is vented to the outside to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning. CO is created when fuels burn incompletely. CO poisoning can cause illness and even death. Make sure the venting for exhaust is kept clear and unobstructed. This includes removal of snow and ice around the outlet to the outside.
- Install and maintain carbon monoxide alarms to avoid risk of carbon monoxide poisoning.
- Maintain heating equipment and chimneys by having them cleaned and inspected annually by a qualified professional.
Portable electric space heaters
- Turn heaters off when you go to bed or leave the room.
- Use and purchase portable space heaters with an automatic shut off so if they’re tipped over they will shut off.
- Place space heater on solid, flat surface.
- Plug power cords directly into outlets and never into an extension cord.
- Inspect for cracked or damaged, broken plugs or loose connections. Replace before using.
Wood burning stoves and Fireplaces
- Install the stove, chimney connectors and chimneys following manufacturer’s instructions or have a professional do the installation.
- Burn only dry, seasoned wood. In pellet stoves, burn only dry, seasoned wood pellets. If using artificial logs, follow the manufacturer’s directions and never burn more than one log at a time.
- Start the fire with newspaper or kindling, never with a flammable liquid, such as lighter fluid, kerosene or gasoline.
- Have sturdy screen on a fireplace. Keep the doors of your wood stove closed unless loading or stoking the live fire.
- Allow ashes to cool before disposing. Dispose of ashes in a tightly covered metal container and keep the ash container at least 10 feet away from the home and any other nearby buildings. Douse and saturate with water.
- Chimneys and vents need to be cleaned and inspected at least once a year.
Children and Fire Tools
- Keep matches and lighters up high, out of the reach of children, preferably in a locked cabinet. It is an adults job to keep fire tools away from children.
- If you feel you must keep matches or lighters more convenient, have only one lighter or matchbook and keep it securely with you at all times.
- Teach young children to tell a grown-up if they find matches or lighters.
- Lighters that look like toys can confuse children. Do not buy or use them.
- If you are concerned about a child’s use of fire tools or interest in fire, please contact your local fire department to find a Juvenile Firesetter Program, a free and educational class.
Prevent scalds and burns in the kitchen.
- Teach children that hot things burn.
- Place objects so they cannot be pulled or knocked over.
- Turn pot handles away from the stove’s edge.
- Keep appliance cords coiled and away from counter edges.
- Keep hot foods and liquids away from table and counter edges.
- Use dry oven mitts or potholders. The heat from hot cookware or tableware could turn that moisture into a scald burn.
- If you have young children in the home cook on the stove back burners.
- When children are old enough, teach them to cook safely.
Hot tap water and scald burns
- Consider installing “anti-scald” devices on tub faucets and shower heads to prevent scalds. The temperature should not exceed 100 degrees Fahrenheit. Or, adjust the thermostat setting on your water heater to no higher than 120 degrees Fahrenheit. The lower temperature lowers the risk of scalds and burns, but it also increases the risk of Legionnaire’s disease.
— If you wish to lower the temperature setting on your water heater, you will need to test the temperature at the faucet. Allow water to run three to five minutes. Test the water with a meat, candy, or cooking thermometer. If the water is hotter than 120° degrees Fahrenheit, adjust the temperature of the water heater and wait a full day to allow the temperature in the tank to adjust. Retest and adjust as needed.
- Before placing a child in the bath or getting into the tub yourself, test the water with your elbow, forearm and back of the hand where you are more sensitive to heat.
For more great fire safety and fire prevention tips, view the National Messages Advisory Committee’s recommendations.