More than 4,000 people die each year in home fires. Protect your home and family with these simple fire safety tips.

Properly Maintain Woodstoves and Fireplaces

  1. Open the dampers before starting a fire in a wood stove.
  2. Open a window a crack for ventilation.
  3. Vent your stove properly and insulate vent from flammable materials
  4. Clear stove area of combustible materials, and ensure you have enough clearance between the stove and floors, walls and ceilings. Follow the manufacturer’s recommendations on both the installation of the stove and the vent pipe.
  5. Use fire screens.
  6. Keep dry wood away from the stove.
  7. Use paper and kindling wood to ignite a fire. NEVER use lighter fluid, kerosene, or gasoline.
  8. Don’t burn trash in a stove; doing so can start a chimney fire.
  9. Remember that slow burning fires can create creosote and soot problems. Small hot fires are more efficient.
  10. Don’t let a wood fire burn unattended or overnight.
  11. Clean the ashes from your stove every week during the heating season. Dispose of ashes in a metal container with a lid and store away from your home and combustibles.
  12. Inspect your pipes and connections monthly for creosote and soot build-up.

Warning signs of chimney problems:

  • Build up of creosote (dripping from the base of the chimney or staining of the outer chimney shell)
  • Sluggish draft (smoke spilling out when the woodstove door is opened)
  • Corrosion of the outer shell of a factory built chimney
  • Deterioration of the brickwork of a masonry chimney

Smoke Alarms

  1. Install smoke detectors on every level of your home and outside of and in all bedrooms.
  2. Test them monthly.
  3. Clear away dust and replace the battery at least once a year. A good way to remember to replace the batteries is to do it when you change the clock to and from Daylight Savings time.
  4. Replace smoke alarms at least every ten years, or as recommended by the manufacturer.

Kitchen Safety

  1. Never leave food cooking unattended; turn off the stove if you need to leave.
  2. Keep baking soda near the stove incase of grease fire. Do not put water on grease fires.
  3. Keep a filled fire extinguisher accessible.
  4. Check pilots in gas stoves. Do not light matches or stove if you smell gas.

Bedroom Safety

  1. Do not trap electric cords against walls where heat can build up.
  2. Keep bedding, clothes, curtains and other combustible items at least three feet away from space heaters.
  3. Only use UL-approved electric blankets and warmers. Check to make sure the cords are not frayed.
  4. Never smoke in bed.
  5. Replace mattresses made before the 1973 Federal Mattress Flammability Standard.
  6. Kerosene heaters should be used only where approved by authorities.
  7. Never use gasoline or camp stove fuel. Refuel outside and only after the heater has cooled.

Electrical Fire Safety

  1. Never overload circuits or extension cords.
  2. Do not place cords or wires under rugs, over nails or in high traffic areas.
  3. Never plug an appliance into an extension cord that is a smaller gauge wire than the appliance cord.
  4. Immediately shut off and unplug appliances that sputter, spark or emit an unusual smell. Have them professionally repaired or replaced.

Educate your Children

  1. Teach your children that fire is a tool not a toy.
  2. Keep matches out of reach of kids.
  3. Do not leave children unattended around lit gas stoves or fireplaces.
  4. Teach kids to Stop. Drop. and Roll if they are ever on fire.

Plan and Practice Escape Routes

  • Practice an escape plan from every room in the house.
  • Caution everyone to stay low to the floor when escaping from fire and never to open doors that are hot.
  • Select a location where everyone can meet after escaping the house.
  • Get out then call for help.

Have Home Fire Sprinklers Installed
When home fire sprinklers are used with working smoke alarms, your chances of surviving a fire are greatly increased. Sprinklers are affordable and they can increase property value and may lower your insurance costs.

Permission to reprint this information was graciously provided by The Telluride Fire Protection District.