Fire Safety

Why fire safety is important

Fires and burns are a leading cause of unintentional injury-related death among children ages 14 and younger. According to Safe Kids Worldwide, an average of 320 children ages 19 and younger died from fires 2018.

Home fires account for 88 percent of all fire-related fatalities. Children younger than 4 years old are at the greatest risk from home fire death and injury. The National Fire Protection Association reports three of every five home fire deaths resulted from fires in homes with no smoke alarms (38%) or no working smoke alarms (21%).

Fire safety tips

The following are some fire safety tips to help make your home safe and protect your family from fires:

  • Keep flammable products, such as matches, lighters and candles, locked away, and teach kids to never touch or play with such items.
  • Working smoke alarms reduce the likelihood of dying in house fire by half. Protect your family by installing one smoke alarm on each level of the house, inside every bedroom, outside each sleeping area and in the basement.
  • “Once a month, once a year, once a decade”. Test smoke alarms every month. Change the batteries once a year and replace smoke alarms every 10 years. For better protection, select a combination smoke alarm that include both ionization and photoelectric technologies in a single device.
  • Stay in the kitchen while cooking. Keep flammable items, such as dishtowels and loose clothing, away from the stovetop. 
  • Maintain heating equipment. Have your furnace inspected annually  and turn off and unplug supplemental heaters when sleeping.
  • Burn only logs in the fireplace with a fireplace screen in place to protect against sparks.
  • Teach children to stop, drop to the ground and roll back and forth to put out flaming clothes.
  • Teach your children to never go back into a burning building for anything, even a favorite toy or pet.

Fire safety products are available to purchase through CHOP's Safety Center.

Fire escape plan

In the event of a fire, it is important to get out of the house, fast! However, small children can become frightened, confused or react inappropriately when a fire occurs. By developing a family escape plan together, and practicing it repeatedly, children will have a better chance of escaping a fire unhurt and alive.
A good family escape plan should include the following:

  • Two escape routes from each room (in case one exit becomes blocked by the fire). Make sure all doors and windows to the outside open easily.
  • A drawn floor plan of your home with arrows indicating escape routes.
  • An agreed-upon meeting place outside of the house (like a tree, light or mailbox), at a safe distance from the home.

A fire escape plan should be practiced at least twice a year, both day and night, with your family to familiarize yourself and your child with the escape plan.

How to escape a fire

  1. Fast exit. The key to escaping a home fire safely is to get out fast. Smoke, gas or fire can kill within one minute. Leave valuables behind. Avoid being locked into your house; keep a key in or near any locks at night.
  2. Exit low. As smoke and heat from fire rise, it is important to stay low. Crawl out of the house. Do not run or walk.
  3. Feel doorsAlways feel the door before opening it. A hot door indicates fire on the other side. If a door is hot, place sheets or clothing under the door to prevent deadly smoke from entering the room.
  4. Window exits. If door exit is not an option, escape through a window (use a chain ladder if the window is upstairs). If the window is sealed, throw something heavy through the glass and protect yourself from the broken glass when exiting.
  5. Safe meeting place. Meet at an agreed-upon meeting place outside, such as the mailbox, to make sure everyone is out of the house.
  6. Call for help. Go to a neighbor's house to call the fire department.

Special note: Never go back inside a burning house for any reason!

Learn more burn prevention tips »

Download our Fire Safety brochure

Our Fire Safety brochure is available for download in multiple languages: