Eighty percent of all fire deaths occur in the home. The Office of Residential Life would like to stress the importance of fire safety and prevention. By following these simple appliance safety tips, you can ensure the safety of yourself and others.

Smoking Fires

  • Never smoke in bed. Replace mattresses made prior to the 1973 Federal Mattress Flammability Standard.
  • Don't put ashtrays on the arms of sofas or chairs.
  • Empty ashtrays into the toilet or an airtight metal container. Warm ashes dumped in waste cans can smolder, then ignite.
  • Don't leave cigarettes, cigars or pipes unattended.
  • Put out all smoking materials before you walk away.
  • Close a matchbook before striking and hold it away from your body. Set your cigarette lighter on "low flame" to prevent burns.
  • If friends or relatives who smoke have visited, be sure to check on the floor for ashes that may have been dropped accidentally.
  • If you feel drowsy while watching television or reading, extinguish your cigarette or cigar.

Cooking fires

  • Never leave cooking unattended. A serious fire can start in just seconds.
  • Always wear short, tight-fitting sleeves when cooking.
  • Turn pot handles inward to avoid spills. Always use a potholder when reaching for handles.
  • Keep towels, pot holders and curtains away from flames and hot surfaces.
  • Clean cooking surfaces regularly to prevent grease buildup, which can ignite.
  • If a fire breaks out while cooking, put a lid on the pan to smother it. You may also use baking soda. Never throw water on a grease fire!
  • Heat oil gradually to prevent burns from spattering grease.
  • Never use the range or oven to heat your home. In addition to being a fire hazard, toxic fumes may leak into your home.
  • Double-check the kitchen before you go to bed or leave the house. Make sure all appliances are turned off.

Electrical fires

  • Some electrical fires are caused by electrical system failures and appliance defects, but more are caused by misuse and poor maintenance of electrical appliances, incorrectly installed wiring, and overloaded extension cords.
  • Regularly inspect extension cords for fraying; instead of a simple extension cord, get a UL-approved unit with built-in circuit breakers.
  • Routinely check your wiring. Look for outlets that don't work, light switches that are hot to the touch, and lights that flicker.
  • Never overload outlets or extension cords.
  • Immediately repair appliances or lamps that sputter or spark.
  • Keep appliances away from wet areas.
  • If an appliance has a three-prong plug, never force it into a two-slot outlet.
  • Don't let children play near electrical space heaters. Keep clothes, curtains and other flammable items at least three feet away from heaters.

Fires in general

  • Having a working smoke alarm more than doubles the chances of surviving a fire.
  • Install a smoke alarm on every level of your home. Test the batteries every month and change them once a year.
  • In case of a fire, stay low to the ground, beneath the smoke, and have an escape plan already worked out.