Fire Safety & Prevention: What you need to know

Protection from fire and fire-related issues starts with attention to the basic elements of safety and prevention. From small details — such as making sure addresses are displayed so they are easy to see by responding fire fighters and changing batteries in smoke alarms on a regular basis — to implementing fire escape plans and knowing what to do in case of a fire, everyone can take steps to make their homes and property more safe.

Smoke alarm safety

Smoke alarms that are properly installed and maintained play a vital role in reducing fire deaths and injuries and have contributed to an almost 50 percent decrease in fire deaths since the late 1970s. An estimated 890 lives could be saved each year if all homes had working smoke alarms. In 2004, 65 percent of reported home fire deaths resulted from fires in homes with no smoke alarms or no working smoke alarms.

Only 8 percent of those that had installed smoke detectors said their first thought on hearing a smoke alarm would be to get out! The Bartlesville Fire Department offers the following life — saving tips that could make a big difference to you and increase your survival rate dramatically.

Smoke alarm life-Saving tips

  • Install a smoke alarm on every level of your home and also install one inside and outside of every bedroom
  • Sleep with the doors closed on your bedrooms
  • Check smoke alarms monthly by pushing the test button
  • Change the batteries in your alarms twice a year whether they need it or not. Do this when you change your clocks for daylight savings time.
  • Teach children what smoke alarms sound like and what they need to do when they hear it. Get out and stay out.
  • Smoke alarms wear out over time. Replace yours if it is 8 years old or more.

For more information, see Smoke alarm safety.

Displaying addresses

It is important that fire fighters can find you in case of an emergency. To make this easier, display your address so that it’s easy to see. The number needs to go on the side that faces traffic. Show it horizontally. It’s good to post it on the non-traffic side, also. The mailbox door is a bad place. Don’t put the number on the non-traffic side unless you have it on both sides.

Street curb

The number should be painted about two feet from the driveway in the direction of the house. Most paintings are inexpensive. If the driveway has a curb of its own, this is fine as long as the number faces traffic.

Avoid having it down the road from the driveway. Please don’t park your car in front of the number. Keep it clean from leaves and dirt to maintain visibility.


The best place is near the front door and within the radius of the porch light. Above the front door is usually a good spot. Any location close to the door and above eye level is good.

Trees and bushes must not block the view from the road. Avoid having it away from the front door, such as over the garage door.

It’s better to have the number in all three places: Your home, mailbox and curb. If one number is obstructed, the driver can see the others. The driver checks the mailbox first, then the curb, and then the house.

For more information, see House Numbers.

Carbon monoxide safety

Often called the silent killer, carbon monoxide is an invisible, odorless, colorless gas created when fuels, such as gasoline, wood, coal, natural gas, propane, oil and methane, burn incompletely. In the home, heating and cooking equipment that burn fuel are potential sources of carbon monoxide. Vehicles or generators running in an attached garage can also produce dangerous levels of carbon monoxide.

A person can be poisoned by a small amount of CO over a longer period of time or by a large amount of CO over a shorter amount·of time.

For more information, see carbon monoxide.

Fire escape planning

Only one-fifth to one-fourth of households — 23 percent — have actually developed and practiced a home fire escape plan to ensure they could escape quickly and safely. In 2006, there were an estimated 396,000 reported home structure fires and 2,580 associated civilian deaths in the United States.

One-third of American households who made an estimate thought they would have at least six minutes before a fire in their home would become life-threatening. The time available is often less. And only 8 percent said their first thought on hearing a smoke alarm would be to get out! The Bartlesville Fire Department offers the following life-saving tips that could make a big difference to you and increase your survival rate dramatically.

For more information, see Fire escape Planning

Home Fire Safety Inspection Checklist

A fire can occur in any part of your home. Use this checklist to make a safety check of your home.

Smoking habits

  • Are all matches and lighters kept out of children’s reach?
  • Make “NO SMOKING IN BED” a rule of the house
  • Is your family aware that ashtrays should NEVER be emptied into waste baskets?
  • Are there plenty of large, safe ashtrays throughout the house?
  • Do you check for smoldering cigarette butts in the furniture?

Electrical hazards

  • Are appliances checked periodically for good operating conditions?
  • Are you careful not to run extension cords under rugs or over hooks and nails?
  • When using extension cords for appliances, does the gauge of both cords match?
  • Are electrical outlets overloaded?


  • Do you keep rubbish cleaned out of attics, garages and yards?
  • Is paint kept in tightly closed metal containers?
  • Are flammable liquids stored in safety cans and kept away from heat and children?
  • Have you make it a rule to NEVER use flammable liquids for cleaning clothes or start fires?
  • Are oily rags kept in a tightly sealed container?
  • Is your clothes dryer vent clean and properly installed?

Heating and cooking

  • If you have a fireplace, is a screen always placed in front of it?
  • Is the filter for your forced air heater changed yearly and the venting cleaned?
  • Are furnaces and wood burning stoves in good repair and located away from combustible walls and ceilings?
  • Do you have the fireplace chimney cleaned and checked periodically?
  • Do you make sure combustibles are not stored near the stove, heater or fireplace?
  • Do your children keep a safe distance from flame and heat sources?

Smoke Alarms

  • Have you installed a smoke alarm outside every sleeping area or in every bedroom on each floor?
  • Do you test your smoke alarm(s) every month?
  • Do you replace the battery of your battery operated smoke alarm every year?

Fire escape plan

  • Does your family have a fire escape plan prepared?
  • Explain to your family that SMOKE is the killer! Stay low and get out fast!
  • Is your escape plan posted and regularly practiced?
  • Does each bedroom have TWO exits?
  • Do you have a meeting place so you will know everyone is outside and safe?
  • Are emergency response numbers posted on all telephones?
  • Is your address on or near your telephone?
  • Do all family members know how to dial 9-1-1 for fire, police or medical emergencies?
  • Do you show your babysitter/guests your home escape routes and review 9-1-1- with her/him?
  • Explain to your family (and babysitter) that they need to know the first rule in fire emergencies: GET EVERYONE OUT FAST, AND DON’T GO BACK INSIDE!

Fire extinguishers

  • Do you have a UL or FM approved fire extinguisher in your home?
  • Do you take it out two times a year and shake it to keep the powder from packing?


  • Have all dried grass cuttings, tree trimmings, leaves and weeds been removed from your property?
  • Can you see your house number from the street? Clean, paint and replace house numbers when needed. We must be able to find you in good and bad weather, in daylight and in the dark. Seconds count!

For more information, see Home Fire Safety Inspection Checklist.

Senior fire safety

Americans over the age of 65 have a fire death rate nearly twice the national average. For those over 75, this jumps to three times the national average. Whether living independently or in a care facility, there are steps seniors can take to remain safe from fire.

Kitchen caution

  • Don’t leave food unattended on the stove. If you must leave the kitchen, take a wooden spoon or potholder as a
  • Wear short or close fitting sleeves and an apron to avoid catching clothes on
  • When cooking, keep a pot lid close In case of a pan fire, use the lid to smother the fire.
  • Clean the stove and toaster regularly to avoid grease and crumb buildup.
  • Use potholders, not towels, to handle hot pans and dishes.
  • Don’t use the oven to heat your home.

Heating Hazards

  • Keep everything at least one foot from any heat source.
  • Unplug electrical appliances and heaters when not using them.
  • Never hang clothes near a heater to dry them.
  • Don’t leave portable heaters alone or go to sleep while they are on.
  • Make sure curtains hang well away from heat sources.


  • Never smoke in bed or while lying on the couch. Smoke only when alert, never when tired or drowsy.
  • Use a large, sturdy ashtray or purchase a special “safety ashtray.”
  • After using an ashtray, leave it on the kitchen counter or in the sink overnight before emptying.
  • Always empty ashtrays into a non-burnable container, such as a metal garbage can.

At bed time

  • Keep your robe, slippers, eyeglasses and house keys close by the bed.
  • Check to be sure that any space heaters are turned off and heat is turned down.
  • Close your bedroom door while sleeping.

Be prepared

  • Install a smoke alarm on every level of your home. Check smoke alarms monthly.
  • If you need a smoke alarm, call your local fire department. They may be able to provide you one at no charge.
  • Plan your escape routes (two from every room, if possible) in case a fire does strike. Locate two exit stairways from your apartment. Never use elevators in a fire.

Calling 911

  • Place a 911 sticker on your phone so that you will always have the number at your fingertips during an emergency.
  • Call 9•l l from a safe location for any fire, medical or police emergency.

For more information, see Senior Fire Safety.

Fire extinguishers safety tips

A portable fire extinguisher can save lives and property by putting out a small fire, or containing it until the fire department arrives; but portable extinguishers do have limitations. Because fire grows and spreads so rapidly, the number one priority for residents is to get out safely. Your safety is number one. The best thing to do is to get out safely and call the fire department ASAP.

Safety tips

Use a portable fire extinguisher when the fire is confined to a small area, such as a wastebasket, and is not growing; everyone has exited the building; the fire department has been called or is being called; and the room is not filled with smoke.

To operate a fire extinguisher, remember the word PASS:

  • Pull the pin. Hold the extinguisher with the nozzle pointing away from you and release the locking mechanism.
  • Aim low. Point the extinguisher at the base of the fire.
  • Squeeze the lever slowly and evenly.
  • Sweep the nozzle from side-to-side.

For the home, select a multi-purpose extinguisher (can be used on all types of home fires) that is large enough to put out a small fire, but not so heavy as to be difficult to handle.

Choose a fire extinguisher that carries the label of an independent testing laboratory.

Read the instructions that come with the fire extinguisher and become familiar with its parts and operation before a fire breaks out. Local fire departments or fire equipment distributors often offer hands-on fire extinguisher trainings.

Install fire extinguishers close to an exit and keep your back to a clear exit when you use the device so you can make an easy escape if the fire cannot be controlled. If the room fills with smoke, leave immediately.

Know when to go. Fire extinguishers are one element of a fire response plan, but the primary element is safe escape. Every household should have a Home Fire Escape Plan and a working Smoke Detector for every level of the home.