firefighter and familyCovering Basic Fire Safety Information

The home fire safety information presented during the home safety visit will vary depending on who lives in or visits the home—such as children or older adults. Every home needs basic information and guidance. Take time to cover these major points so your audience understands the “why” behind the message:

  1. Fire is fast and smoke kills. When smoke alarms alert, people have three minutes or less to escape. A fast escape depends on practicing a family fire drill so everyone knows how to get out FAST. Children will most likely not wake up unaided. During practice, determine who will help children and adults who may move slower. Have a safe meeting place in front of the home. Know how to call the fire department when you are outside.
  2. escape ladderOnce your audience understands the dangers of a home fire, assure them there are simple and very effective steps they can take to protect themselves and their loved ones. Working smoke alarms are key to surviving a home fire because they can wake people up in time to get to safety. Advise the household on how many more smoke alarms they need to meet code, if you do not provide enough. Explain why it is important to have one in each bedroom, on each level. Go through the home with the residents and:
  3. Have an adult test all smoke alarms present in the home except ones tied into a private alarm system that is monitored (you don’t want to cause a false alarm). Explain the different sounds a smoke alarm makes – when it detects a fire, and when it “chirps” to signal low power. Make sure the residents understand what to do in each case.
  4. Replace or install new alarms as needed to allow the household to have most, if not all, required by code. Also, explain the best locations for the alarms and why, and the need to replace the alarms after 10 years. Write the date you installed the alarms on the inside cover.
  5. If applicable, explain how the hush feature of the alarm works and how to use it. Let the adult caregiver practice doing this him/herself and how to fan smoke away.
  6. plan a fire drillDemonstrate to the resident how to test and clean the alarms, and, if applicable, how to change the batteries. If possible, let the adult caregiver practice doing this.
    Note: This is a good time to give an adult resident a copy of both NFPA’s smoke alarm safety sheet and, if applicable for that home, NFPA’s CO alarm sheet.
  7. Ask the residents if they have an escape plan. Hand them an escape-planning tool.
    Two sources: ProLiteracy Home Fire Drill Poster in English and Spanish.
    NFPA Escape Plan Tip Sheet
    • fire drilllWhen you ask this, wait for an answer. Time permitting, let them show you what their escape plan is, and review the following key points and explain why they are important:
    • Do they have two ways out of each room? Explain their second way out may be a window. For an upper level, they may need an escape ladder.
    • Do they sleep with the doors closed? A closed door slows the spread of heat and smoke. Do they have an outside meeting place? This helps residents know if someone hasn’t escaped.
    • Do they practice their escape plan as a family?

ProLiteracy Smoke Alarm Illustrations
In grayscale
Black-and-white line drawings