A home fire safety checklist is important for every family. This child-friendly checklist covers important requirements like: smoke detectors, fire extinguishers, an escape plan, and the sorts of hazards you need to look out for.
When we bought our first home, we got started making it safe for our kids.
That’s why Rose and I put together this home fire safety checklist for our own children. Now that we’ve made it, we want to share it with you and your family.
We hope this checklist will help you to assess how prepared your home is for a fire.
Don’t forget that you should always check with your local fire departments for rules and regulations in your region. We can’t cover the requirements for every jurisdiction on our website. Every area has different rules – and you need to follow the rule where you live.
But we can create a general checklist that covers what we think are the most important things for you to do to get your home prepared for fires. And that’s what we’ve done.
1. Smoke AND Carbon Monoxide Detectors
When we moved into our first home, we were surprised to hear just how many smoke detectors you need in just one home.
Smoke detectors need to be placed:
- On every level of the home;
- In every bedroom;
- In every hallway.
You should also make sure that detectors can be heard all over the home.
When we installed detectors in our home, we decided to go with an integrated smoke detectors system. This means that our detectors are integrated. When one detector detects smoke, all detectors sound the alarm. And when we turn one alarm off, all alarms go off.
We also decided to go with a joint detector that detects smoke and carbon monoxide. While it wasn’t compulsory for us to get a carbon monoxide detector, we found out that this is becoming more and more common.
Soon, carbon monoxide detectors will be required everywhere by law. We decided to just do it now and ensure our early detection system was state of the art.
Some people might find their smoke alarm gives false alarms in high humidity areas. If this affects you, take a look at our guide to the best smoke alarms for high humidity areas.
2. Fire Extinguishers
Fire extinguishers are compulsory in homes in most jurisdictions in the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand.
Even if they’re not compulsory, they’re one of the most important fire safety devices in your home.
That’s because a fire extinguisher can very effectively prevent a small fire from engulfing your home.
So fire extinguishers need to be close by and easily accessible to you at all times.
The best type of fire extinguisher is a multipurpose (ABC) fire extinguisher. This type of extinguisher can effectively fight multiple different types of fire including oil and electrical fires.
If you call your fire station, you’ll find that they usually recommend fire extinguishers in the following locations:
- Your kitchen;
- Your garage;
- Near open fire locations such as chimneys.
3. A Safe Kitchen
The kitchen is a very common place where home fires start.
The first thing we did to protect our home was to install a fire extinguisher and fire blanket in the kitchen.
Fire Blankets: Our fire blanket hangs on the wall within 2 meters of the stove. If the stove ever got out of control, we would be able to quickly pull out the blanket and smother the stove fire.
But it’s best to prevent a fire before it begins.
Here are some things you can do right now to minimize the risk of a kitchen fire:
- Ensure paper and cloth towels do not dangle above or near the stove;
- Check for grease below or around the stove. Residual grease turns small fires into big problems within seconds;
- Ensure you get in the habit of turning the handles of pots and pans inward while on the stove. This will help prevent accidental spills.
4. Safe Electricals and Chimneys
Electrical outlets are another hot spot for fires.
There are a few things you can do to minimize the risk of electrical fires:
- Never overload powerboards. It’s never a good idea to stack powerboards on powerboards;
- Check for frayed cords. Fires start where the outside protective coverings of cords are frayed; and
- Unplug all power cords when not in use.
Similarly, chimneys are a fire hotspot.
Make sure your chimneys or other open fire locations have at least 1 meter of free space from furniture or other objects that may catch fire.
5. Backyard Fire Safety
There are a few dangers that might cause fires in the backyard.
Tree Overhang: The first is overhanging trees. Ensure you trim your tree branches so they don’t hang over gutters, fire pits or barbecues.
Gutters: This past Canada Day (July 1st), Rose and I climbed on the roof and were really surprised at just how many leaves got into our gutters. We don’t even have trees overhanging our house, but leaves still really build up.
So we’ll be making sure we clear the roof of leaves every Canada Day from now on, just in time for the height of Canada’s fire season. If you’re in the States, why not do the same thing next Independence Day?
Debris: The next issue is debris. Debris can also cause fires to spread. After wind storms, you’ll notice a lot of dead foliage in your backyard. It’s important that this debris is cleared as soon as possible.
Children’s Toys: Children’s toys can also cause a problem if they obstruct escape routes. Ensure all outdoor toys have a dedicated home where you can pack them away.
Woodpiles: Woodpiles are often stacked alongside the walls of your house. Instead, try to stack your firewood well away from the home.
Sprinklers: We also like to keep our yard well watered. Fortunately we have a good sprinkler system that keeps the grass green and moist rather than dead and dry.
Fire Pumps: On a rural property, consider getting a fire pump to fight wildfires as they approach. See our guide to the best fire fighting pumps on the market today.
6. An Escape Plan
Fire escape plans are compulsory in schools, malls and businesses. So why don’t you have one in your home?
They’re so easy to put together. So sit down for 20 minutes and just get it done.
Here are some things to consider when creating a fire escape plan:
- Identify two exits that you can use and how to get there from any place in the home;
- Identify a safe meeting place for the family to gather once they have exited the home;
- Ensure everyone knows their roles, including which adult will gather the children and pets. Don’t waste time gathering your belongings;
- Clear all entrance ways of obstructions that may prevent an escape;
- Practice your escape routes with your children;
- Teach your children how to call the emergency number to access a fire brigade;
- Ensure all guests are aware of your fire emergency meeting point.
If you’re living in a multi-story apartment or have a 2-Story home, we highly recommend a fire escape ladder to help you get out when there’s no way out down the stairs. Read our review of the fire escape ladder we recommend.
A Final Word
This checklist is only a starting point. We hope that this checklist has given you an idea of the first few things you should be thinking about when protecting your home and family from fire threats.
We’d love for you to continue browsing our website to find out about our experiences of fire prevention. We gathered a lot of information when securing our own home and we want to share that information with you.
Have a great day,
Chris and Rose.