Fire safety essentials

Fire Extinguishers

When a fire breaks out at a property, those inside have mere moments to act. It takes fewer than 30 seconds for even the smallest flame to grow into a life-threatening fire1. Used properly by a trained individual, fire extinguishers can prevent fires from growing out of control. They should be positioned on each floor of a property in a location that requires a user to travel no more than 40 feet to reach it, including outdoors2. Ensure fire extinguishers are stored in fire suppression cabinets to protect your extinguishers from theft or damage, and to discourage children from playing with them.

Hands grasping down on a fire extinguisher
White smoke detector on the ceiling surrounded by white fumes

Detection Devices

Early detection can save lives. Understanding the function of detectors and proper placement of each is critical to effective fire safety. Smoke detectors sound when the sensor detects the presence of smoke particles in the air. Every room of every floor in a residence should have a smoke detector installed. Smoke detectors come in three forms: Ionization, photoelectric and dual-sensor. Combination detectors are also great because they have sensing technologies that work together to detect smoke and carbon monoxide, offering protection from two deadly threats in one unit. Install these time- and money-saving devices on every floor and near sleeping areas in a property.

Replacement Batteries

Though some detectors are equipped with 10-year lithium ion batteries that do not need replacement, many others require 9V, AA or AAA batteries. Hardwire models often have backup batteries as well. Smoke and CO detectors should be tested once per month, and their batteries should be replaced at least once per year. Smoke and CO detectors should be replaced every 8 to 10 years3.

Close up of hands replacing the battery on an alarm
Dad looking at daughter climbing down from window on an escape ladder

Evacuation Supplies

In the unfortunate event of a fire that can't be contained, it's crucial to have a well-designed, well-rehearsed evacuation plan. The NFPA has templates and tools to help you create an escape plan. Secure escape ladders for multi-story buildings and outfit multifamily dwellings with ample emergency exit lighting and signage.

1 Department of Homeland Security, Home Fires, Learn About Fire. www.ready.gov/home-fires
2 OSHA, Extinguisher Basics. www.osha.gov/SLTC/etools/evacuation/portable_about.html
3 Department of Homeland Security, Home Fires, Before a Fire, Smoke Alarms. www.ready.gov/home-fires