September is recognized as “National Preparedness Month,” a time for families and communities to prepare for the possibility of disasters throughout the year.  Each week this month, we’ll be updating this page featuring a different emergency event with tips to help you be prepared!  And, for complete information along with tips on disaster planning and preparation, visit where you’ll find checklists, action plans and more. 


This Week’s Theme:  Fire Safety Preparedness

In less than five minutes, a house fire can become life-threatening!  And, the heat of a fire can be more threatening than flames.  Inhaling the heat from an intense fire can scorch your lungs and melt clothing to your skin.  Smoke and toxic fumes can also be lethal by making you disoriented and drowsy.  Asphyxiation is the leading cause of death in fires.

Create and Practice a Fire Escape Plan
Escape plans help you get out of your home quickly.  After you create a fire escape plan, practice it twice a year.  Here are some tips to consider when making a fire escape plan:

  • Find more than one way to escape a room in the event the primary exit is blocked by fire.
  • Make sure that windows are not stuck and screens can be easily removed.
  • Practice feeling your way out of the house or with your eyes closed.
  • Teach children that firefighters and your local fire department are their friends.

Smoke Alarms
A working smoke alarm greatly increases your chances of getting out of a house fire safely!

  • Install both ionization and photoelectric smoke alarms OR dual sensor smoke alarms (which contain ionization and photoelectric sensors).
  • Test batteries monthly, and replace batteries in smoke alarms at least once a year with new ones.
  • Install smoke alarms on all levels of your home, including the basement and outside sleeping areas.
  • Replace smoke alarms every 8 – 10 years, or according to the manufacturer’s recommendations.
  • NEVER disable smoke alarms when cooking.

Preventing Home Fires While Cooking
A good rule of thumb – never leave food unattended while cooking.

  • If you need to leave your food unattended while cooking, turn off the stove or grill before leaving, even for a short time.
  • Keep children away from cooking areas – 3 ft.  from the stove or grill.
  • Position barbecue grills at least 10 ft. from decks, siding and under branches or eaves.

Smoking Fire Safety

  • Get into the habit of smoking outside and completely stub out butts in an ashtray filled with sand.
  • Never toss hot cigarette butts in a trash can.
  • NEVER smoke in a home where oxygen is is being used, even if it is turned off.  Oxygen can be explosive and makes fire burn hotter and faster.

 Electrical and Appliance Safety

  • Frayed electrical wires can cause fires.  Replace worn, old or dry rotted electrical cords.
  • Do not run cords under rugs or furniture.
  • If an appliance has a three prong plug, do not force the plug into a two prong outlet.  Use it in a three-prong outlet only.
  • Professionally replace any lights that flicker and any switch that feels hot to the touch.

 Portable Space Heaters

  • Keep space heaters at least 3 ft. from any object and away from combustible objects.
  • Buy heaters that have been evaluated by a nationally recognized testing laboratory such as Underwriters Laboratories (UL).
  • Make sure any space heater has a built-in thermostat that switches off when it is tipped over.
  • Use only Crystal clear K-1 kerosene in Kerosene heaters.  Never overfill it.  Use the heater in a well-ventilated room,

Fireplaces and Woodstoves

  • Inspect and clean woodstove pipes and chimneys regularly.
  • Use a fireplace screen heavy enough to prevent burning logs from rolling out of a fireplace.
  • Always make sure a fire is out before going to bed.