Make sure your home is fire safe as it can be

Published 12:00 pm Tuesday, March 22, 2022

A small flame can become a life-threatening situation in a home in less than five minutes.

About 80 percent of fire-related deaths occur in the home, according to While homeowners cannot prevent every opportunity that presents a fire hazard, measures can be taken to minimize risks. 

Install smoke detectors throughout the home. Having a working smoke alarm provides occupants a 50-percent better chance of surviving a fire. For best coverage results, one should be installed on every level of the home, in each sleeping area and outside each sleeping area. Detectors should be tested once each month to ensure they are working and batteries are still good. Replacing the batteries once each year at the same time — such as New Year’s or on the first day of spring — is also a good idea.

Subscribe to our free email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

Carbon monoxide detectors are also needed in homes that use gas-powered appliances of any kind, such as room heaters, water heaters and stoves. These devices can detect the presence of unseen deadly gases that also have no smell, and alert residents to clear the property until the fire department can respond. 

If a homeowner needs a detector but cannot install it themselves, the Brookhaven Fire Department can help. 

“If they purchase smoke detector or carbon monoxide detector, we will come out and install it for them,” said Brookhaven Fire Chief Jeff Ainsworth. “These are the battery-operated ones, not the ones that are hard-wired.”

Fire extinguishers also come in handy when faced with a small fire, and may prevent larger fires from occurring. Keep one in the kitchen, garage and workshop, and check them regularly to make sure they are in good working order.

Teach children about the dangers of fire. About 300 people are killed each year and $280 million in property is destroyed in fires attributed to children playing with fire. Educating children on the dangers of fire is essential, as well as keeping matches and lighters out of reach, and teaching them what to do if their clothes catch fire — stop, drop and roll. 

Each home should also have an escape plan, an agreed-upon plan for what to do if a fire breaks out, with a goal of being out of the house in three minutes or less. The plan should include knowing the closest way out, checking doors for heat before opening them, staying low to the ground to avoid smoke and knowing where to meet outside.

Having a fire safety plan — along with education and preventative measures — can save lives.