Your Safety

Your Safety and Fire Prevention

Being safe is no accident. There are a lot of things in your house that can malfunction and people being careless can increase your odds of a house fire immensely. Buildings can have faulty wiring, electronics can short out, or someone could forget about a lit candle. One interesting fact is that cooking is the leading cause of house fires followed by smoking. This means that most house fires are preventable! Another sad statistic is that 74% of people who died in a house fire died in a house with no, or non-working smoke detectors. In an effort to stop these preventable fires from occurring, the Marthasville Fire Department lists below some helpful tips to keep you and your family safe.

Smoke Detectors

It doesn’t matter if your home is big or small, new or old. All homes need smoke alarms that work. Put them near every bedroom. If your home has more than one level, put smoke alarms on every level. Smoke rises, so smoke alarms should be mounted high on walls or ceilings.

Ceiling mounted alarms should be installed at least four inches away from the nearest wall. Wall-mounted alarms should be installed four to 12 inches away from the ceiling. Don’t install smoke alarms near windows, doors, or ducts where drafts might interfere with their operation. Test your smoke alarms at least once a month, following the manufacturer’s instructions, which typically involves pushing the “test” button on the face of the alarm cover. Install new batteries at least once a year.

Research has shown that sleeping children may be able to tune out the blaring sound of a smoke detector when sleeping. Make sure your children wake and properly respond when the smoke alarm signal. Before assuming children will react appropriately to a late-night fire, parents must learn if their children will be awakened immediately or sleep through the smoke alarm. Even those who awaken to the sound of the alarm may be groggy or move with indecision so practice fire alarm drills so that children know what to do if the alarm goes off.

Thinking Ahead:  Your Exit Plan

Prepare a floor plan of your home showing at least two ways out of each room. Sleep with your bedroom door closed. In the event of fire, it helps to hold back heat and smoke. But if a door feels hot, do not open it; escape through another door or window.

Agree on a fixed location out-of-doors where family members are to gather for a head count.

Stay together away from the fire. Call 911 from another location. Make certain that no one goes back inside the burning building.

Check corridors and stairways to make sure they are free of obstructions and combustibles.

To help cut down on the need for an emergency exit in the first place, clear all unnecessary items from the attic, basement, garage, and closets.

Fire Extinguishers

Fire extinguishers should be mounted in the kitchen, garage, and workshop.

Purchase an ABC type extinguisher for extinguishing all types of fires.

Learn how to use your fire extinguisher before there is an emergency.

Remember, use an extinguisher on small fires only. If there is a large fire, get out immediately and call 911 from another location.

Clothes Dryer

Never leave home with the clothes dryer running.

Dryers must be vented to the outside, not into a wall or attic.

Clean the lint screen frequently to keep the airway clear.


Use a fireplace screen to prevent sparks from flying.

Don’t store newspapers, kindling, or matches near the fireplace or have an exposed rug or wooden floor right in front of the fireplace.

Have your chimney inspected by a professional prior to the start of every heating season and cleaned to remove combustible creosote build-up if necessary.

Install a chimney spark arrester to prevent roof fires.

When lighting a gas fireplace, strike your match first, then turn on the gas.

Furnace / Space Heaters

Install and maintain heating equipment correctly. Have your furnace inspected by a professional prior to the start of every heating season.

Don’t store newspapers, rags, or other combustible materials near a furnace, hot water heater, space heater, etc.

Don’t leave space heaters operating when you’re not in the room.

Keep space heaters at least three feet away from anything that might burn, including the wall.

Don’t use extension cords with electrical space heaters. The high amount of current they require could melt the cord and start a fire.

When lighting a gas space heater, strike your match first, then turn on the gas.

Never use a gas range as a substitute for a furnace or space heater.


Never smoke in bed.

Don’t smoke when you are drinking or are abnormally tired.

Use large, deep ashtrays, and empty them frequently.

Never dump an ashtray into the trash without wetting the butts and ashes first.

Electrical Hazards

It is better not to use extension cords. If you feel you must use one, make sure that it is not frayed or worn. Do not run it under a rug or twist it around a nail or hook.

Never overload a socket. In particular, the use of “octopus” outlets, outlet extensions that accommodate several plugs, is strongly discouraged.

Do not use light bulb wattage which is too high for the fixture. Look for the label inside each fixture which tells the maximum wattage.

Check periodically for loose wall receptacles, loose wires, or loose lighting fixtures. Sparking means that you’ve waited too long.

Allow air space around the TV to prevent overheating. The same applies to plug-in radios and stereo sets, and to powerful lamps.

If a circuit breaker trips or a fuse blows frequently, immediately cut down on the number of appliances on that line.

Be sure all electrical equipment bears the Underwriters Laboratories (UL) label.

In many older homes, the capacity of the wiring system has not kept pace with today’s modern appliances. Overloaded electrical systems invite fire. Watch for these overload signals: dimming lights when an appliance goes on, a shrinking TV picture, slow heating appliances, or fuses blowing frequently. Call a qualified electrician to get expert help.


Never pour water on a grease fire; turn off the stove and cover the pan with a lid, or close the oven door.

Keep pot handles on the stove pointing to the back, and always watch young children in the kitchen.

Don’t store items on the stove top, as they could catch fire.

Keep kitchen appliances clean and in good condition.

Don’t overload kitchen electrical outlets and don’t use appliances with frayed or cracked wires.

Wear tight-fitting clothing when you cook. Here’s why: An electrical coil on the stove reaches a temperature of 800 degrees. A gas flame goes over 1,000 degrees. Your dish towel or pot holder can catch fire at 400 degrees. So can your bathrobe, apron, or loose sleeve.

Be sure your stove is not located under a window in which curtains are hanging.

Clean the exhaust hood and duct over the stove regularly. and wipe up spilled grease as soon as the surface of the stove is cool.

Gasoline and Flammable Liquids

Flammable liquids should be stored only in approved safety containers, and the containers should be kept outside the house and garage in a separate storage shed.

Gas up lawn equipment and snow-throwers outside, away from enclosed areas and any source of sparks or heat.

Start the equipment 10 feet from where you filled it with fuel.

Don’t fill a hot lawn mower or other motor, let it cool first.

Never clean floors or do other general cleaning with gasoline or flammable liquids.