A home fire safety checklist is important for every family. This child-friendly checklist covers some important requirements like: smoke detectors, fire extinguishers, an escape plan, and the sorts of hazards you need to look out for.
We hope this checklist will help you to assess how prepared your home is for a fire. But 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 some of the most important things for homeowners to do to get their home prepared for fires. And that’s what we’ve done.
1. Smoke AND Carbon Monoxide Detectors
When researching for this website, 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.
See here for full details of where to place smoke detectors according to the NFPA.
You should also make sure that detectors can be heard all over the home.
There’s also the option of an integrated smoke detectors system. This means that when one detector detects smoke, all detectors sound the alarm. And when the user turns one alarm off, all alarms go off. These systems can help give advanced warning of fires in the home.
On top of all this, there is the option of a joint detector that detects smoke and carbon monoxide. While it often isn’t compulsory for everyone 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. So we personally think it’s a good idea to just do it now and ensure an early detection system is state of the art.
Some people might find their smoke alarm gives false alarms in high humidity areas. For more information on this, 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.
We think 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:
- The kitchen (this may require a specialized extinguisher);
- The garage;
- Near open fire locations such as chimneys.
3. A Safe Kitchen
The kitchen is a very common place where home fires start.
One of the first things that can be done to protect a home is to install a fire extinguisher and fire blanket in the kitchen.
Fire Blankets: It’s a good idea to have a fire blanket hanging in the kitchen. If the stove ever got out of control, it would be nice to be able to quickly pull out the blanket and smother the stove fire asap. Of course, it’s important to have training on how to do this in advance.
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 that can be done 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.
(These are examples only and do not represent everything that needs to be done to protect a home – see your jurisdiction’s fire authority for more information).
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: You’ll be surprised at just how many leaves might get into your gutters. Even if you don’t have trees overhanging your house, leaves still really build up thanks to the wind.
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 think it’s important to keep a yard well watered whenever possible. A good sprinkler system that keeps the grass green and moist rather than dead and dry can be a big help, especially for the risk of wildfires.
Fire Pumps: People on a rural property might consider getting a fire pump to fight wildfires as they approach. See our review of 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.
Some people living in a multi-story apartment or have a 2-Story home also get a fire escape ladder to help them get out when there’s no way out down the stairs. Read our review of some fire escape ladders.
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. But remember, rules and regulations in your jurisdiction supersede these general informational points, and you need to investigate what’s recommended for your circumstances. This is not professional advice.
Have a great day,