Smoke Detectors & Carbon Monoxide Alarms
Your home should have at least one smoke detector and carbon monoxide alarm on each floor, in addition to one in each sleeping area or bedroom. Be sure to test these monthly and replace the batteries once a year.
Did You Know?
You can request a free fire safety home visit from the American Red Cross. During this visit, trained volunteers will help give you ideas to make your home safer. They will also install up to 3 free smoke detectors in your home.
7 Ways to Prepare for a Home Fire
Did you know that only 26% of American families have a fire escape plan? The American Red Cross recommends the following steps to help your family be prepared in the event of a home fire:
- Install the right number of smoke alarms (see the section above). Test them once a month and replace the batteries at least once a year.
- Teach children what a smoke alarm sounds like and what to do if they hear one.
- Come up with a family meeting spot outside of your home. Every member of your household should know at least two ways out of every room and where the family meeting spot is.
- Create a family emergency communications plan. Make sure that all family members know who to contact if they cannot find each other.
- Hold a family fire drill at least twice each year to practice escaping from the home. Press the smoke alarm test button or yell, "FIRE!" to alert family members that it's time to get out.
- Make sure everyone knows how to call 9-1-1.
- Teach family members how to STOP, DROP, and ROLL if their clothing catches on fire.
Many home accidents, to include appliance or cooking fires, are preventable. The following are some simple tips to prevent kitchen injuries and accidents.
- Check your smoke alarm and carbon monoxide (CO) alarms. You should check all smoke and CO alarms, including those in your kitchen, on a monthly basis.
- Check and clean your appliances regularly. Appliances should be cleaned routinely to prevent the buildup of oils or food residue, which can burn or catch on fire.
- Appliances (especially if they are more than 10 years old) should also be checked occasionally for signs of faulty electrical wiring or issues with buttons or knobs.
- TIP: Use aluminum foil to keep your oven clean – when cooking in a baking dish, place a sheet of foil on the rack below to catch any food that bubbles over.
- Maintain proper ventilation. If your kitchen has a fan or range hood, be sure to turn it on when using the stovetop. You can also open a window to allow vapors and smoke to escape.
- Keep floors and counters clean and dry. In addition to preventing pest issues, keeping floors and countertops clean, dry, and free of clutter can help you to avoid unnecessary slips and spills. It can also reduce the risk of fire.
- Keep small children and pets out of the kitchen when you are cooking. Young children and pets can easily become injured in a kitchen. They can also present a tripping hazard or distraction, leading to accidents.
- Never leave food unattended on stovetop or in oven. Food left on a hot burner or in the oven may burn or catch on fire. This is especially true when heating certain ingredients, such as oil or sugar. Never walk away from a pot being cooked over high heat, and never leave home with the stove or oven on – even if it’s on a low setting.
- Keep flammable ingredients or objects away from heat sources. Be careful to keep flammable foods (such as oil, sugar, powdered ingredients, and alcohol) away from heat sources like ovens, stoves, and microwaves. The same goes for textiles and other items, such as dish cloths or paper towels.
- Pay attention to small appliances. Even small kitchen appliances, such as microwaves or toasters, can cause serious injury. Never use these close to heat sources (e.g. on the stove) or water (e.g. by the sink). Unplug small appliances when not in use to save energy and prevent the risk of fire.
Know What to Do in a Kitchen Fire
If a fire does start in your kitchen, remain calm and follow these steps:
- Keep a lid nearby – if a fire starts on the stovetop, immediately turn off the burner and cover the pot with a metal lid or baking sheet.
- Know where fire retardants are kept. In the case of a small fire, salt or baking soda may be used to suppress the flames. It is also recommended to keep a small fire extinguisher in the kitchen (many people keep these under the sink).
- CAUTION! Do not attempt to put out a grease fire with water – this can cause the oil to splatter and the fire to spread.
- In an oven or microwave fire, keep the appliance door closed until the fire is out. If you can safely reach the cord, unplug the appliance.
- When in doubt, just get out. If you are unsure of how to handle a fire, leave the residence immediately. Your belongings can be replaced, but you and your family are irreplaceable.