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Fire spreads quickly. If fire breaks out in your home, there is no time to gather valuables or make a phone call. In just two minutes, a fire can become life threatening. In five minutes, your home can be up in flames. Be prepared for a fire before it starts.

For additional guidance, check out the National Fire Protection Association’s (NFPA) safety tips in English and other languages.

Prepare for a fire

  • Buy and install smoke alarms that use 10-year, sealed lithium-ion batteries. You can request smoke alarms via Philly 311.
  • Place smoke alarms on every level of your home (including the basement), outside bedrooms, at the top of open stairways, and at the bottom of stairways that are closed in between two walls.
  • Test smoke alarms once a month and replace the alarms every 10 years.
  • Plan and review your home escape routes with your family. Practice getting out of each room.
  • Check that windows are not nailed or painted shut. If you have security gratings or burglar bars on windows, make sure they have a fire safety opening feature and can be easily opened from the inside.
  • Think about getting escape ladders if your home has more than one level.
  • Teach your family to stay low to the floor (where the air is safer) when getting away from a fire.
  • Put A-B-C-type fire extinguishers in your home and teach family members how to use them.
  • Put heaters at least three feet away from anything that could catch fire. Be very careful when using temporary heating sources like space heaters.
  • Close your bedroom door at night. It lessens the effects of toxic smoke and heat, and helps stop the spread of flames.
  • Make sure your home is insured. If you rent, consider buying renter’s insurance.

Survive a fire

Heat and smoke from fire can be more dangerous than the flames. Fire produces poisonous gases that make you confused and sleepy. These steps can help you survive an active fire:

  • If a smoke detector goes off or if you notice a fire, stay calm. Get out as quickly as possible and stay out.
  • Don’t try to fight a major fire.
  • If your clothes catch on fire, stop where you are, drop to the ground, and roll over and back to smother the flames.
  • Review your high-rise evacuation plan if you work in a high-rise office building. If there’s a fire, don’t use the elevator. If there’s smoke in the hallway, go back to your apartment or office and call 911 for instructions.
  • Before opening a door, feel it with the back of your hand. If it’s hot, find another way out.
  • Find another way out if you see smoke under the door,
  • Stay as close to the floor as possible. Smoke and heat rise and the air is clearer and cooler near the floor.
  • Close all doors behind you.
  • Don’t stop to get anything.
  • Don’t use elevators.
  • Call 911 from a safe place such as a neighbor’s house.
  • Stay near a window and close to the floor if you cannot get out of a room. Close the door and stuff the bottom with a towel to keep out smoke.
  • Signal for help by waving a cloth or sheet outside the window, if you can.

For more fire safety information, visit the Philadelphia Fire Department website.

Barbecue grill safety

The City of Philadelphia has rules around barbecue grill use to keep you safe. For example, propane and charcoal grills must only be used outdoors. Never use these grills indoors, or in any enclosed spaces like tents. Grills are a fire hazard and can expose you to deadly carbon monoxide. BBQ grills aren’t allowed on decks, porches, or balconies of one and two family houses and apartment buildings.

Also remember to:

  • Keep the grill a safe distance from lawn games, play areas, and walkways. Grills should be at least 10 feet away from siding, deck railing, and out from under leaves and overhanging branches.
  • Never keep spare propane cylinders under or near a grill, or inside the home.
  • Do not move propane cylinders in a passenger vehicle.
  • Keep matches, lighters, and starter fluid out of the reach of children and in a locked drawer or cabinet.
  • Children should never be allowed to use outdoor cooking equipment.
  • Keep children and pets away from the grill area.
  • Don’t wear loose fitting clothing while cooking.
  • Use long BBQ mitts and long-handled grilling tools to protect the chef from heat and flames.
  • Turn off valves when not in use.
  • Remove grease/fat buildup in the trays below the grill. This buildup can catch on fire.
  • Burners, tubing, and piping should be clean and free from insects, dust, and debris so they won’t explode.
  • Purchase a grill with a safety seal from an independent testing lab.