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Home Safety checklist


If you wish to report a possible hazardous condition, please dial 911. If you have any fire safety questions or would like more information on any fire safety issue, please dial the Big Beaver Volunteer Fire Company at (724) 827-2411.

The information contained on this page is not complete by any means. Please stop back by again to see what we've added. Thank you.


General Fire Safety Tips

  • Keep a fire extinguisher in your home and car, and read the directions.
  • Dial 911 before attempting to attack the fire yourself, no matter how small the fire seems.
  • Remember that lives are much more valuable than property. If you're out of the building, STAY OUT!
  • Don't smoke in bed.
  • Don't leave your cigarettes or other lit smoking materials unattended.
  • Keep ashtrays away from curtains, upholstered furniture, and other combustibles.
  • Always look for the Underwriters Laboratory (UL) or Factory Mutual (FM) labels when purchasing appliances, storage containers or electrical accessories.
  • Remember that smoke, heat and toxic gases from fires can kill you long before flames get to your part of the structure. KEEP LOW when evacuating.



Home Fire Safety Tips

  • Set up Evacuation Drills In The Home (EDITH) - practice evacuating your house, and meeting at the designated point OUTSIDE.
  • GET OUT of your house if you have a fire - call 911 from your neighbor's house.
  • Take a walk around your house, shed, garage and property. Repair or discard any unsafe items, and make sure you have any flammable materials stored safely.
  • Discard properly any soiled cleaning rags or towels. Soiled material can spontaneously combust under certain conditions.
  • Clean your clothes dryer's filter between each load.
  • Pull your dryer out from the wall, and ensure that there isn't a dangerous buildup of lint behind the dryer or in the exhaust hose.
  • Make sure that everything you put in the dishwasher is safe for dishwasher use - plastic can burn from contacting the heating element.

Fire Safety Tips for Travelers

  • Take a smoke detector with you, in case your hotel/motel room doesn't have one installed.
  • Take a moment to note the evacuation route(s) and instructions before you settle in for the night.

Fire Safety Tips Regarding Children

  • Keep matches and lighters out of the reach of children.
  • Teach your children never to play with matches, lighters, or fireworks.
  • Teach your children how to call 911, as well as their address and telephone number.
  • Teach your children the "Stop, Drop, and Roll" method to extinguish flames on themselves.


  • Never "Barbecue" or grill indoors on a smoker or barbecue grill. These devices are intended for outdoor use only.
  • Keep your grill at least 30 feet from any structures - for residents of apartments, condominiums and townhouses, it's the law. For the rest of us, it's just an excellent idea.
  • Don't leave food unattended on the stove.
  • Keep dangling clothing away from burners.
  • Turn handles on pots and pans so that they can't be knocked off the stove accidentally.
  • Keep appliances clean and free of grease and crumbs.
  • Make sure your stove is turned off and small appliances unplugged before leaving the house or going to bed.

Storage Areas

  • Make sure that storage areas are free from excess clutter. It adds to the fire load, and can impede your evacuation as well as our attack in case of an emergency incident.
  • Make sure that flammable materials are stored in proper containers, well away from sources of heat or ignition.
  • Don't store gasoline in your house.


  • Don't fill your portable gasoline cans in your vehicle - remove the can from the vehicle.
  • When transporting portable gasoline cans, ensure that the container
    • is approved for gasoline storage
    • is sealed tightly
    • is not left in the vehicle for longer than absolutely necessary, especially on a warm or sunny day.
  • If you smell gasoline or suspect a gasoline leak, don't operate the car until the leak is repaired.
  • If you smell smoke or see flames, pull over well off the traveled roadway as soon as safely possible to do so. Don't attempt to drive any further.


  • Replace frayed or cracked electrical wiring.
  • Don't run electric power cords under rugs.

Portable Heaters

  • Plug electric space heaters directly into the wall socket, not into extension cords.
  • Place heaters where they will not be knocked over easily.
  • Unplug heaters when they are not being used.
  • Do not use heaters to dry clothing or other items.

Alternative Heating

  • Make sure your fireplace or wood burning stove is clean and in good repair before using it.
  • Keep all combustible materials well away from the heat.
  • Make sure you use the proper fuel for your heating device:
    • DON'T use gasoline in a kerosene heater.
    • DON'T burn coal in a device meant to burn wood.
  • Portable kerosene heaters are illegal in residences in PG county, and are generally not recommended anywhere.


Smoke Detectors

  • Consider installing both a photo-electric and ionization smoke detector in your house. While photo-electric detectors may react quicker than ionization detectors, the photo-electric detectors may not detect the black smoke generated by synthetic materials as quickly as the white smoke generated by natural materials.
  • Check your smoke detectors monthly, and replace the batteries in them in the spring and fall when you adjust your clocks.
  • Install at least one smoke detector on each floor of your house, away from air vents, and at least six inches away from walls and corners.
  • Install smoke detectors near bedrooms.
  • If there are any smokers in the house, install a smoke detector in their bedroom.
  • If your smoke detector sounds while you are in bed, DON'T SIT UP! Roll out of bed, and stay low to the floor - remember that the heat and toxic gases are up higher.

Carbon Monoxide (CO) Detectors

If you burn anything in your house, such as wood, natural gas, propane, kerosene, or coal, install a Carbon Monoxide (CO) detector. This device can warn you of potentially deadly CO gas before the concentration reaches the harmful level.

Learn the warning signs of CO poisoning: redness of the skin, headaches, dizziness, nausea, weakness, loss of muscle control, chest tightness, heart fluttering, sleepiness, confusion, vomiting or diarrhea. If more than one person in the household is sick, and they feel better after being away from the house for a while, CO poisoning should be suspected. If you suspect CO poisoning, get out of the house and call the fire department.


General Holiday Safety Tips

All holiday decorations should be non-combustible or flame-retardant, and not placed near heat or electrical sources. Keep candies away from flammable materials like curtains, plants, Christmas trees - place candles where they can't be blown over.


Use flashlights, not candles, to light pumpkins. Be sure your children dress in flame-resistant costumes.


Keep Christmas tree needles moist by replenishing the water supply in the base-holder daily. Dryness is the biggest fire safety hazard. Dispose of tree as soon as needles start to fall off. Check your indoor and outdoor Christmas lights each year before you use them. If there are frayed cords, exposed wires or broken sockets, replace or repair them. Unplug your lights when you leave your home or go to sleep. Don't put wrapping paper in a fireplace or stove - it can throw off dangerous sparks. Never use electric lights on a metallic tree. NEVER leave candles and children unattended!!



Fire Safety for Baby-Sitters

When you leave your home and children in the care of baby-sitters, you're leaving the baby-sitter with responsibility for their safety and well-being. You must be sure your baby-sitters take basic fire prevention precautions - that they know what to do in case of an emergency.

Leave the number where you can be contacted in case of an emergency. Be certain your sitter knows how to contact the fire/rescue service. Do you have a 9-1-1 sticker on your phone?

Write down the address of your house and the names of the nearest cross streets so the baby-sitter can identify the house location by phone if needed.

Leave the name and number of a neighbor or a relative baby-sitters can contact in case they can't reach you.

Be sure the baby-sitter can recognize the smoke alarm sound.

Give the baby-sitter a basic outline of the floor plan of your home, with two exits marked as escapes from each room. Be sure your children know these escapes from every room. Tell the baby-sitter what your children have been instructed to do in case of fire.

Ask the baby-sitter to keep phone calls short so incoming calls aren't blocked.

Why worry? 40% will never happen - anxiety is the result of a tired mind.
  30% concerns old settlements which cannot be altered.
  12% centers in criticisms, mostly untrue, made by people who feel inferior
  10% is related to my health, which worsens while I worry, and only
  8% is legitimate.

So why worry about fire prevention? Do we really need smoke detectors? Do we really need to conduct those monotonous fire drills? Let us consider the facts:

Every year fires in the United States kill thousands of people; and over one-half of these fires are caused by carelessness or lack of common sense.
Consider a modern-day household in which its residents are not concerned with fire prevention. Smoke detectors in this household are either absent or non-functioning; therefore, this family will not be alerted by the alarm when the careless smoker falls asleep and sets the bed sheets on fire.
The small children of this household are not aware of the dangers of fire. Thus, the curtains are set ablaze as they experiment with matches.
Unnecessary overloading of an electrical outlet will cause a fire that will rage through this family's living room. The following examples display how carelessness can cause fires in the home:
Fires can occur by placing a wastebasket too near a stove, or by turning your back on a heated iron.
Some people may not be aware that spontaneous combustion can set closet-kept rags or mops on fire; or that flashback fires can result from cleaning fluid fumes that travel down the stairs and reach the furnace.
There are many other dangerous habits that people may not be aware of that cause fires in the home. Poor ventilation in an attic, hot ashes dropped by a careless smoker, and the storage of paint cans in a warm basement are among these.

So, how do we motivate people to be more concerned with fire prevention? I was taught very early that I would have to depend entirely upon myself, that my future lay in my own hands.

Everyone needs to make fire prevention a conscious practice in their lives. Everyone is urged to examine their homes both inside and out. During this examination, adequate fire escapes, functioning fire extinguishers, and working smoke detectors should be noted.

Rubbish should not be left lying about, nor should any oily or paint-soaked cloths be kept in an attic or closet. These must be thoroughly cleaned, destroyed, or kept in an air-tight container.

Electrical appliances must be unplugged after each use so as not to overload and short-circuit an outlet.

Public education has brought about great improvement in fire prevention for many years. I believe that education is the main key to maintaining and advancing this improvement. Group organizations, schools, and governments should continue to enact and update their educational programs so that people can acquire more knowledge of fire prevention and take precautions against fire.

At the beginning of this article I asked, 'Why Worry?" Fire prevention is a topic that we all need to be worried about. If we all develop suitable fire prevention habits, then the needless loss of life and property will be spared.

1998 By Joe Morris