Fire Safety

Fire, burn, and scald prevention

Injuries from fires and burns are some of the most painful and severe that children can suffer. Luckily, most of them can be prevented by making a few easy modifications to your home and teaching your family what to do in case of a fire emergency. Below you can find resources to help you prevent injuries from fires, burns and scalds.

Burn and scald prevention tips

Reduce water temperature. Children’s skin burns at lower temperatures and more deeply than that of older children and adults.

  • Set your water heater thermostat at 120 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Test the bathwater with your wrist or elbow before placing your child in it.
  • Consider installing anti-scald devices on water faucets and shower heads that turn off the water if the temperature is too hot.

Childproof outlets. Children can insert metal objects, such as forks or keys, into outlets, causing electrical burns.

  • Cover unused electrical outlets with safety devices and avoid plugging several appliance cords into the same electrical socket.

Remove items that can burn easily.

  • Keep matches, gasoline, and lighters locked away and out of children’s reach. Do not use these items for fun – children can imitate you.
  • Store all flammable liquids such as gasoline outside of the home.
  • Keep flammable items such as clothing, furniture, newspapers or magazines at least three feet away from the fireplace, heater or radiator.
  • Never leave a burning candle unattended. Place candles in safe locations, away from combustible materials and where children or pets cannot tip them over.
  • Unplug irons and curling irons when not in use. Store them out of a child’s reach.
  • Keep appliance cords out of children's reach, especially if the appliances contain hot foods or liquids.
  • Do not smoke inside your home.

Establish a “kid-free zone” around fireplaces, including gas fireplaces, and wood burning stoves. Glass fire screens can get very hot. Avoid hot spills in the kitchen.

  • Keep children away from cooking and heating appliances (e.g., space heaters, fireplaces, irons, hair styling tools). Never leave the kitchen while you are cooking. If you must leave the room, take the child with you.
  • Cook with pots and pans on back burners and turn handles away from the front.
  • Keep hot foods and liquids away from table and counter edges.
  • Remove tablecloths from tables.
  • Never carry or hold children and hot foods or liquids at the same time.
  • Do not allow young children to use the microwave.

Test food and drink temperature.

  • Taste cooked food and heated liquids to make sure they are not too hot for your child.
  • Never microwave your baby’s bottle. Drinks heated in a microwave may be much hotter than their containers.
  • Heat bottles with warm water and test them before feeding your baby.

Be safe around heating appliances.

  • Place space heaters at least 3 feet away from curtains, papers, furniture and other flammable materials.
  • Make sure heaters are stable, and use protective coverings. Always turn space heaters off when leaving the room or going to bed.
  • Plug an electric space heater into an outlet with enough capacity. Never plug it into an extension cord.
  • Replace old or frayed electrical wires and appliance cords, and keep them on top of, not beneath rugs.
  • Keep a screen in front of the fireplace. If it has a glass screen, it can take a long time to cool down and can burn a young child.
  • Have chimneys cleaned and inspected once a year.

Download the Burns and Scald Prevention Tips >

Fire prevention tips

A small fire can grow into a deadly one within one or two minutes. To help prevent a tragedy, closely inspect your home to eliminate potential hazards. Prepare your home for an emergency, and teach your family about the dangers of fire and how to escape.

Put a smoke alarm on every level of your home, outside each sleeping area, and in every bedroom.

  • Smoke alarms can be battery-operated or electrically hardwired in your home and are available at a variety of price points.
  • If you have hearing problems, use alarms with flashing strobe lights and vibration.
  • Test smoke alarms every month. Replace batteries once a year, even if alarms are hardwired.
  • Test your smoke alarms at night to see if your child will wake up and respond to the alarm. Children sleep more deeply and may not wake up. If your child does not wake up to the alarm, try an alarm where you can program your voice to alert him or her.
  • Mount smoke alarms high on walls or ceilings since smoke rises. Ceiling-mounted alarms should be installed at least 4 inches away from the nearest wall. Wall-mounted alarms should be installed 4 to 12 inches away from the ceiling.
  • Replace all smoke alarms every 10 years.
  • Consider installing both ionization alarms, which are better at sensing flaming fires, and photoelectric alarms, which are better at sensing slow, smoky fires, or dual sensor alarms.
  • Consider installing a home sprinkler system.

Plan and practice several escape routes and a safe place to meet outside.

  • Plan and practice two escape routes out of each room of the house. It is important to have an alternate escape route in case one is blocked by fire.
  • Have a designated person to help young children and others who might have difficulty escaping.
  • Fire drills should be practiced at least twice a year. Home fires and home fire-related deaths are more likely to occur during cold-weather months, December through February.
  • Practice your escape plan at night to see if your child awakes to the smoke alarms.
  • Designate an outside meeting place, so all members of the family can be accounted for quickly. Once you are outside, call the fire department or 911 from a cell phone or neighbor’s phone.

Teach safety. A child who is coached properly ahead of time may have a better chance of surviving.

  • Children should know the sound of the smoke alarm. When they hear it, teach them to get outside quickly and crawl low if there is smoke.
  • Touch doors with the back of your hand before opening them. If the door is hot, use an alternative exit.
  • Teach children never to go back into a burning building for anything such as a toy or pet, and to call the fire department or 911 from a neighbor’s home or a cell phone outside.
  • Teach children that if their clothes catch on fire, they should immediately stop, drop to the ground and roll themselves back and forth quickly to extinguish the flames.
  • Take children to your local fire station for a tour. Children will be able to see a firefighter in full gear and learn that he or she is someone who saves children – not someone to be afraid of or hide from.
  • Teach children to never touch or play with matches, candles, gasoline or lighters.
  • Be sure you are not teaching your children bad habits. Do not let them see you smoke in bed or disconnect smoke alarm batteries.

Download the Fire Safety Fact Sheet >