Install smoke detectors.
Properly functioning smoke detectors will provide ample warning of a fire for you to flee a burning home even if you are woken up by the sound of the alarm. There should be at least one smoke detector installed on each floor of your home. This includes the basement and outside of all sleeping quarters. If you sleep behind closed doors, there should be one inside the bedroom too.
Detectors should be tested on a monthly basis according to the manufacturer's instruction manual. Remember to replace batteries once per year or when the detector's sensor notifies you of low battery life with a redundant beep. Avoid removing the battery from a detector for use elsewhere; a powerless smoke detector can't save any lives. Detectors should have a life span in your home of no more than ten years, so keep tabs on their age.
Plan your escape route.
Once a fire starts in your residence, it's time to forget whatever you're doing and leave fast. Make sure you and your family are on the same page when it comes to escaping a fire in your home. Verify that everyone is aware of at least two unblocked exits (e.g., doors, windows) in every room. If you live in an apartment complex, elevators should not be an option of escape. Also, agree on a gathering place outside where everyone can convene following their departure. You and your loved ones should practice this escape route no less than twice yearly.
Watch out for smokers.
Careless smokers are the leading cause of fire-related deaths in North America. Those that smoke in bed or when they are drowsy are particularly at risk of starting a fire. Smokers should have access to large, deep ashtrays that won't tip. Don't forget to douse the used butts with water prior to throwing them in the trash. Before going to bed or leaving the house after someone has been smoking, look in between cushions and around furniture for cigarettes that remain lit.
Cook with caution.
Never leave the kitchen while food is cooking on the stove or in some other appliance. Cooking areas should be free of flammables, and whoever is preparing the food should wear shirts with snug-fitting or rolled up sleeves. Pot handles need to be facing the stove to avoid bumping them or allowing small children the opportunity to grab them. Train your kids to stay at least three feet from the stove at all times. If a grease fire starts inside a pan, try to place the lid over the top to stifle the flames, and turn the burner off. Then, leave the lid on until it is cool enough to touch.
Do not suffocate space heaters.
Portable heaters and space heaters should be located at least three feet from any combustible materials. Make sure children and pets do not wander around heaters, and always remember to turn them off when you leave the house or go to sleep.
Matches and lighters are not toys.
Children, matches, and lighters are three words that should never be mentioned in the same sentence. If you have kids around your home, always use childproof lighters. Store matches and lighters in a place where curious children cannot see or obtain them, and if possible, lock them up. Teach your kids that these are not toys, but they are tools that should be used by an adult in the company of one. Children should also be educated enough to know that if they come across matches or lighters that are clearly out of place, they should notify an adult immediately.
Understand how to initially treat a burn.
Run the burnt area under cool water for ten to 15 minutes. If the skin is blistered or charred, consult a doctor right away. Never apply ice to the burn injury site.
Use electricity with care.
If electrical equipment begins to smoke or smells funny, unplug it without hesitation. Have it inspected and serviced before turning it on again. Any electrical cord that has been damaged should be replaced before it has the chance to start a fire. Avoid overloading extension cords or feeding them underneath rugs. Also, do not tinker with the fuse box or use fuses that are the incorrect size.
Smoke rises, so stay below it.
Smoke and poisonous gases rise to the ceiling with heat during a fire. Consequently, the purer air is found by the floor. If you are confronted by smoke while trying to flee a fire, find another way out.
Stop, drop, and roll.
We've all had this imbedded in our minds since we were kids. If your clothes catch fire, never attempt to run. Simply stop in your tracks, drop to the floor, use your hands to shield your face, and roll again and again until you've smothered the flames.