Serving the Needs of Selected Individuals, Organizations and Businesses in
Protect Your Family From Injury & Loss
Most home-related injuries can be prevented by taking time, on a regular
basis, to identify danger points and eradicate them. One of the most disastrous
of all home-related dangers is fire. Below are listed some fire hazards to watch
out for and other important safety tips regarding what to do in the event of a
Most victims of accidents at home are babies and small children. Therefore,
you will also find links below which detail how to make your home safe for
Child-Proofing Your Home
Child Safety and Bathrooms
Child Safety in the Kitchen
Child Safety in the Rest of the Home
General Child Safety Rules
Home Fire Escape Plan
Home Fire Prevention
Safety for Babies
Fire Protection Association
American Red Cross
Council on Family Health
Consumer Product Safety
Babies and children are the most likely family members to be injured in a home
accident. They are active, creative, and curious, and no place is safe. One way
to anticipate dangers for your children is to go through every room in your home
on your knees. This puts you at a childís height and you will readily see
hazards you might never notice otherwise. Remember that children have no
understanding of the dangers around them and they will climb on, crawl under or
over, taste and handle everything in their environment. If something can be done
in a dangerous manner, they will do it. So make sure they can grow and explore
- Keep your water heater set no higher than 120 degrees. Water hotter than
140 degrees will burn severely within 6 seconds. Use a safety thermometer to
check the temperature.
- Put handle covers on faucets to prevent children from turning them on or
bumping into them while bathing.
- All bathroom cabinets need safety latches.
- Lock the toilet seat down with a device that prevents children from
opening it. They can fall in and drown in an incredibly short time. This will
also prevent having interesting items flushed down the toilet.
- Never leave a child unattended in its bath. Tragedies take only seconds.
- Never treat medicine as candy. Children donít know the difference. Keep
all medicines in a locked cabinet.
- Put a guard over stove controls if they are within a childís reach. Use
the back burners only if possible and keep all pan handles turned to the back
of the stove.
- Put safety latches on all cabinet doors. If you have open shelves, move
small items and breakables out of them. Be sure that free-standing units are
securely fastened to the floor or wall so they will not tip over or fall.
- A switch lock on the garbage disposal will keep fingers and other
inappropriate items from being ground up.
- Locks should be put on doors of ovens, dryers, dishwashers, etc.
- Large buckets of water can drown a toddler in minutes.
- Never leave cleaning solutions around where children can spill them or get
- Socket covers on all the electrical outlets are a must. Removing and
replacing the covers is a small inconvenience compared to the possible
tragedies that can occur.
- Sharp corners in rooms can be covered by soft corner covers to prevent
bumps and bruises.
- Door alarms can be installed which will signal whenever a door is opened.
- Door knob covers should be used. Adults can easily open the doors but
- If you use a baby walker, put a two-by-four board across the threshold of
rooms to keep babies away from certain areas.
Children love to help around the house and itís a great activity. Just remember
these basic safety tips. And remember that they are always watching, so be sure
you are a model of safety for them.
- Donít let children use or be exposed to volatile or dangerous chemicals.
This includes gasoline, cleaning supplies, etc. Always supervise them if they
- Keep children safe around power tools, lawn mowers, etc. Teach them to use
them safely, with guards and safety gear.
- Teach children how to use knives and scissors safely. Show them how to cut
and chop while keeping fingers out of the way. They should always pass such
items by holding the blade and extending the handle to the other person. Teach
them to say "Thank you" when they have a secure hold. This way the other
person will know that the person has the item securely and it will not drop
onto someoneís foot.
- Explain that they should always use the proper tool for the job. This
means ladders or stepstools instead of chair or tables; a screwdriver and not
a knife blade; a hammer and not rock or shoe. Help them build something using
the proper tools in the correct manner.
- Older children can attend First Aid classes.
Build a plan of escape to keep you and your loved ones safe if a fire does
occur. Know what to do and be sure everyone in the family practices the escape
actions. In a fire situation, panic can be as blinding as the flames and smoke.
- Find the exits. Be sure that every room in the home has two exits.
If you will have to use a window, be sure it can be opened easily by everyone
and try to mark it so that it can be found quickly.
- Make sure all doors are easy to open. Be sure door locks and
security systems can be easily disengaged. Some doors have dead bolt locks
that require a key, so be sure the key is within reach of the door and verify
that everyone knows where it is and can reach it. Remember, children will not
have time to find a stepstool if the key is too high for them to reach.
- Create a house floor plan, marking all exits. Draw out a simple
floor plan and post it in every room, marking the exits for that room on the
plan. Show the escape route from each room to the outdoor area you have
designated as the meeting place. Be sure all levels of the house are mapped.
- Designate a meeting location safely away from the house. Everyone
should know where they will gather after escaping. This way you will know if
anyone is still trapped in the house.
- Be sure you have ladder escapes for upper level rooms.. The best
form of ladder for upper level rooms is the foldable chain escape ladder. It
can be kept by the designated escape window. Have regular drills, letting
people open the window and hook the ladder over the sill. This practice could
save their lives in a panic situation.
- Teach everyone that they must not re-enter the building. Pets and
possessions left behind could tempt family members back into the building.
Explain that such an attempt could result in the death of both rescuer and
- Teach "Stop, drop, and roll". Everyone should be taught what to do
if they catch fire. "Stop" means not to run or flail, which feeds the fire.
"Drop" means fall to the ground, thus preventing the motion that would fan the
flames. "Roll" means to roll back and forth, smothering the flames. If they
see someone else in flames, they must do the same for them - get them on the
ground and smother the flames with a coat or blanket.
Fire is the most devastating thing that can happen to your home. You can
minimize the risk of fire by using the following tips. Use the information to
build a plan of escape to keep you and your loved ones safe if a fire does
Fire Prevention around the house
- Check your wiring, especially if your house is an older one. Older
wiring may crack, exposing the live wires and causing shorts, which can ignite
building materials. If you have mice or squirrels, they may chew the wiring.
Have an exterminator get rid of them, then check the wiring for damage.
- Evaluate the electrical load in your home. Modern homes use many
more electrical appliances than in the past and your wiring may not be able to
handle the larger load. This can cause wires to overheat, creating a fire
hazard in the walls. A qualified electrician can tell you about your wiring
capacity. Have him check the circuits at the same time, to be sure there are
enough of them of the proper size to handle appliances such as dryers and
window air conditioners.
- Inspect gas appliances yearly. Natural gas appliances such as
furnaces and water heaters require proper venting to allow fumes to escape
safely. You should have furnaces checked yearly to assure they are burning
cleanly and correctly. Have gas water heaters checked regularly for leaks or
- Keep flammable objects away from heat sources. Everybody stores
things like boxes, packing materials, and papers, as well as flammable liquids
and aerosols. These should be kept in a well-ventilated area, away from any
heat sources like pilot lights or light bulbs. Ideally, do not keep such items
in the basement. Remember, fires tend to move up, so a fire in the basement is
a greater danger than one in the attic.
Fire Prevention in the Kitchen
- Get a fire extinguisher. Be sure you get one that is rated for the
kinds of fires you may encounter in the kitchen. One labeled ABC will handle
all fires, including electrical, so it is a good one for the kitchen. Be sure
it is large enough to handle a moderate fire but be careful not to get one too
heavy for easy use. And be sure everyone knows how to use it! An extinguisher
that no one can use won't help. Keep it out in plain view and service it
regularly. The instruction book will give information as to how often it
should be inspected.
- Be prepared for fires on and in the stove. Grease fires can happen
very suddenly and be very frightening. Cutting off air to the fire is the way
to put it out. Keep a large box of BAKING SODA near the stove and use it to
smother the flames. Other substances like flour may burn or explode, making
the fire much worse. Turn off the burner to remove it as a heat source. A
large lid can be placed on top of a pan of burning grease. If the fire is in
the oven, turn it off, as well as any vent to the oven, and leave the door
shut until the fire stops. This will prevent extra air from entering to fan
- Use common sense when working around any heat source. Don't wear
clothing which can dangle and catch fire or become entangled in pot handles.
Always use protection when picking up utensils or pans on the stove. Assume
everything is hot! Be careful not to leave pot holders, cook books, etc.,
close to stove burners where they might catch fire.
- Buy them and use them. Since studies show that most fatal fires
occur at night, it is imperative that you have smoke detectors to wake you and
your family in time to reach safety. Buy smoke detectors that are approved by
independent agencies. At a minimum, get one for each floor of your home as
well as the basement. One should also be placed outside each bedroom. Keep
them away from doors, windows, and vents since drafts can keep them from
- Keep them working properly. The best smoke detector you can buy
will only be able to save you if it is operating properly. Change the
batteries twice a year. Write it into your daily planner to remind yourself. A
good memory aid is to put in new batteries each time Daylight Savings Time
changes. Test the detectors regularly, once a month. Replace any faulty
detector immediately. Never paint your detectors and keep the covers clean.
Covers filled with dust cannot function properly. Replace detectors after 10
years since the sensor can lose their effectiveness.
- Don't forget about carbon monoxide detectors. Carbon monoxide is a
colorless, odorless gas that is emitted in any fire, including fireplaces and
gas furnaces. Detectors constantly monitor the air and will signal when a
build-up of the deadly gas is occurring, long before you are aware of the
symptoms of fatigue, headache, and nausea. Since the gas can travel through
heating ducts, place one near or in each bedroom.
Smoking causes thousands of house fires every year. Cigarettes which fall into
furniture can cause fabric to smolder for hours, even after the cigarette is
removed. The smoldering will eventually flame and the piece of furniture can be
engulfed in fire in a matter of seconds. A few common-sense rules can keep you
and your family safe from such a disaster.
- Never smoke in bed. It is amazing how many people ignore this
simple basic rule. If you fall asleep before the cigarette is extinguished it
will fall into the bedclothes or onto the carpet. Such fabrics emit smoke
which will cause unconsciousness before flames ever begin.
- Never smoke near anything flammable. Smoking around trash, papers,
or boxes can allow hot ash to fall and ignite such objects. And flammable
liquids emit fumes which will ignite readily. Never ever smoke near gasoline
or any other volatile flammable fluid.
- Be sure the cigarette is out when you discard it. A lighted
cigarette thrown into the garbage may smolder for hours, then ignite into a
large fire. Be sure you use ashtrays and never empty them unless the contents
are completely cold.
- Babies spend a lot of time in their cribs. The crib should have a label
showing that its construction is safe and approved. Check that the slats are
no more than 2 3/8 inches apart and that there is a tight fit where the
mattress and the crib wall meet. Be sure the mechanism operating the side-drop
has safety catches and is difficult for children to operate. A kick-and-lift
mechanism is best because it requires operation that most children are unable
to accomplish. The drop side should never go down lower than 9 inches above
the mattress and the crib sides should be at least 26 inches above the
mattress when raised.
- Keep cribs away from windows that may have curtain or blind cords within
- Pillows and stuffed animals could be a hazard for very small babies. If
their face is buried in the soft pillow or animal, they may be unable to get
- Any furniture used for changing the baby should have a top rail at least 6
inches high and have doors instead of open shelves to keep supplies out of the
way. Put safety latches on the doors to keep crawling babies from opening
- Be sure furniture is sturdy and does not have small bits that can break
off or be chewed off, such as wicker. Furniture should be secured so it cannot
fall over when a child tries to crawl or climb on it.
- Use baby gates to keep crawlers and toddlers from entering unsafe rooms or
stairs. Mesh gates are safest and accordion gates should be avoided. A child
can fall and catch its head in the V. Mesh gates should have a small mesh to
prevent children tangling arms or legs in it. Gates held in place by pressure
will work on a level surface but stair gates should fasten securely.
- Playpens are great for allowing babies to play safely, but be sure the
mesh is too fine to allow fingers or buttons to become entangled.
- Never leave babies who can roll over or crawl with dropped sides on cribs
or playpens. They can fall from cribs or climb into pockets created by the
mesh of playpens.
- Once children can climb, keep pillows and toys out of playpens that they
might stand on.
- Never tie toys or anything else with long cords. They can choke or
strangle a baby.
- Pacifiers are a great comfort to babies, but be sure that they meet safety
standards. They should be strong enough not to come apart or break into small
pieces. The mouth guard should be firm and large enough to prevent it from
being drawn into the babyís mouth and should have ventilation holes in it.
Never use a string or ribbon on a pacifier. Check the pacifier regularly for
deterioration and replace it if it shows signs of tears, holes, or weakening