Fire safety tips to ensure your home and family stay safe

Peter Duncanson Director of Disaster Restoration System Development ServiceMaster Restore
Fire safety tips to ensure your home and family stay safe

The transition to cooler temperatures means spending more time indoors, eating more home-cooked meals, and unfortunately, the most common month for house fires.

A fire prevention survey revealed alarming insights about Americans’ lack of preparedness when it comes to fires. The survey showed that December is the most common month for house fires, with cooking as the leading cause ― making December one of the riskiest times of year. It’s important to remember to practice fire safety in your home throughout the entire year.

The following fire safety tips will help ensure your family’s safety.


Do put safety first

In the event of a fire, put safety first, not your possessions. Assess your surroundings to judge whether it’s safe to evacuate. If possible, evacuate immediately. Even if it requires leaving behind important belongings, you should evacuate as soon as possible. 

Do have an evacuation plan

According to 94 percent of the experts, most homeowners don’t have a fire evacuation plan in place. In the event of a fire, there’s usually limited time to react. One of the best ways to prepare for a fire is to develop an evacuation plan. When preparing a plan, make sure you involve your family. Walk through your home together to identify all of the possible exits. Choose a meeting place outside the home at a safe distance from the house. Make sure everyone in your household knows the evacuation plan and practice it a few times each year. If you have children, consider drawing a floor plan of your home and make sure they fully understand the plan.

Do remember the smoke detectors

Homeowners need to be more diligent and make sure they have working smoke detectors in their homes. Recall when you last changed the batteries and ensure the batteries are in working order. Smoke detectors should be placed on each level of the home. Ideal locations include hallways outside of bedrooms, near laundry or utility rooms, and stairwells. In most cases, a fire appears and spreads quickly. Take every fire alarm seriously and prepare yourself to the best of your ability beforehand.

Do own a fire extinguisher

Eighty-five percent of the franchisees believe that most homeowners don’t own a fire extinguisher. In the case of a home cooking related fire, it’s important to have an extinguisher on hand to put out small fires. It’s recommended to have at least one fire extinguisher on each level of your home. Place one fire extinguisher in the kitchen under the sink, as the kitchen is where most household fires can start. Make sure each fire extinguisher is visible and easy to access. However, if a fire escalates quickly remember tips one and two, evacuate the premises and let the experts handle the situation.


Do not forget holiday decorations

Most homeowners don’t take fire precautions when decorating their homes. In fact, holiday candles rank as a close second fire hazard to cooking. If you’re lighting candles, always keep them within sight and extinguish all candles before leaving a room or going to sleep. In addition, keep burning candles away from holiday decorations that are flammable.

Do not leave the kitchen unattended

Knowing that cooking is the leading cause of house fires during this time of the year, it’s important to stay alert and aware at all times. When preparing holiday meals, homeowners need to keep a close eye on the oven and stove. Make sure to keep flammable items out of the kitchen and when frying don’t leave the stove area.

Do not attempt to clean up the aftermath yourself

If you need help during the cleanup, call a professional restoration company with the experience, training and resources to work with you and your insurance company to help restore your home. Remember that sometimes the “D-I-Y” cleanup approach following a fire can worsen the damage and lead to unnecessary expenses.

Do not discard Items without taking inventory

Discarding burned items without taking an inventory of the damage can cause more damage to your belongings and lead you to lose records of your personal property. Take the time to make a list of your belongings and keep an electronic record of it.

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To ensure everyone has a safe home, it’s important to consider these dos and don’ts. It’s also important to remember effective fire prevention skills, such as being more diligent with smoke detectors, ensuring fire extinguishers are readily available and taking proper safety precautions when cooking at home throughout the year.

More expert advice about Home Emergency, Preparedness, and Recovery

Photo Credits: chartthai/; Check Man, Cross Man and Jump Man © ioannis kounadeas -

Peter DuncansonDirector of Disaster Restoration System Development

Pete has been with ServiceMaster since 1985. He has worked in all facets of a franchise business. He began in 1985, as a helper for ServiceMaster of Oak Park, in Oak Park, IL. In 1987, he became Operations Manager for ServiceMaster Services, ...

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