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Fire Safety Monday


The loss of property combined with the potential loss of life make residential house fires a devastating experience. Even when the fire isn’t fatal, the lost property and memories can be overwhelming. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to reduce your risk of experiencing or being seriously injured in a house fire. As temperatures drop and people take steps to warm their homes, now is a good time to learn about ways to protect your family and home from fire.

Fire Safety Tips:

Install smoke alarms on every floor of your home and test them monthly. Studies show that installing and maintaining smoke alarms in the home reduce one’s risk of dying in a house fire by up to 50 percent. Install smoke alarms on every level of your home and near all sleeping areas. Test your smoke alarm monthly to be sure the batteries are still working. Replace your smoke alarm batteries as soon as the alarm “chirps.” Smoke alarms have an expiration date and should be replaced after 10 years. If you live inside Baltimore City, the Baltimore City Fire Department offers free smoke detectors and installation.

Invest in sprinklers. Residential sprinkler systems are an established, effective intervention for containing residential fires and preventing fire-related injury and death. National commissions, federal fire agencies, and organizations of fire and life safety professionals have long supported expanded use of sprinklers as a highly effective means of controlling fire injury and loss. The cost of installing fire sprinklers in homes is comparable to the costs of add-ons such as granite countertops or cabinet upgrades.

Create a fire escape plan and practice it often with your family. When creating your plan, consider the following: 

  • In a fire emergency, evacuate by crawling low on your hands and knees, keeping your head under the smoke
  • Identify at least two ways of exiting the house
  • Make sure all windows and doors can be opened and accessed easily
  • Agree on an outside meeting place such as a lamp post or neighbor’s house

Fire Prevention Tips:

  • Cooking mishaps are the leading cause of home fires and fire injuries. This is why it is important to stay in the kitchen when food is cooking and keep your cooking area clear of clutter.
  • Cigarettes are the leading cause of fire deaths in the home. Run water over smoking materials in the ashtray before emptying, and never smoke in bed or when drowsy.
  • Keep matches and lighters locked away in a place where they are out of reach and sight of children.
  • During the winter months, heating is the leading cause of home fires. Make sure space heaters are at least three feet away from anything that can burn such as curtains, rugs and furniture. Also, turn space heaters off before you leave a room or go to sleep.
  • Electrical cords can start fires in the home if not used and maintained properly. Make sure cords are not pinched behind or underneath furniture or rugs, and check they are not being stretched. Replace cords that have cracks, are broken or have loose fitting plugs.

The Johns Hopkins Center for Injury Research and Policy conducts high-quality research to inform, create and disseminate programs and policies to reduce the burden of fires. The Center also provides community practice projects that reach out to those most in need to reduce the risk of injury and death from fires and burns. For more information on the Center’s work reducing the burden of fire, please see or contact the Johns Hopkins Children’s Safety Center at 410-614-5587.

Every Monday, the Johns Hopkins Healthy Monday Project, part of the Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future, offers tips for preventing disease and injury, and maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Check back each week for new tips or visit our archive.