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Home Fire Safety

Across the nation, students are going off to college during September and moving into residence halls, fraternities, sororities, and off-campus housing. It is a critical time for young people who are living away from home, many for the first time. It is also an important time for these students to be educated about fire safety. 
 
Higher Education Opportunity Act
Federal fire safety reporting requirements included in Higher Education Opportunity Act, Public Law 110-315. The Act was enacted on August 14, 2008, and reauthorizes the Higher Education Act of 1965.
 
College/University Fire Safety Resources

​​Cooking remains a leading cause of residential fires and fire casualties.

Families gather in the kitchen to spend time together, but it can be one of the most dangerous rooms in the house if you don't practice safe cooking behaviors. Whether you are cooking the family holiday dinner or a snack for children, practicing safe cooking behaviors will help keep you and your family safe.

To learn how to prevent a cooking fire in your home and how to keep members of your household safe in case of fire, please visit the OSFM Cooking Fire Safety Webpage.


Heating and electrical fires can happen any time, and in any room of your home, due to overloading electrical outlets or extension cords or placing combustible materials too close to heating equipment. In winter months, heating and electrical residential fires spike due to an increased use of heating appliances and lights. 

For more information on safely using electical & heating items, please visit the OSFM Electrical & Heating Safety Webpage.

 

​Are you prepared if a home fire happens? Knowing what to do in the event of a fire can save you and your family.

Fire can spread quickly, leaving you as little as three minutes to get out safely once the smoke alarm sounds. People often get confused about what to do during a fire and infants, young children, older adults, and people with disabilities may be at risk because of their inability to escape quickly or on their own.

Many fire injuries and deaths occur when residents attempt to fight a home fire, when exits are not defined, or when they are blocked.

While the instinct to save your home and belongings is understandable, attempting to fight a home fire is extremely dangerous and can cost you your life. When a fire breaks out and the smoke alarm sounds, the best plan is to get out quickly and call 911.

Prepare, Act, Survive

Installing smoke alarms, having a home fire escape plan, and practicing the plan can help reduce the risk for the whole family. Below are tips on how to prepare to get you and your family out safely in case of a fire.

Step 1: Make sure you have working smoke alarms

  • Install a smoke alarm on every level of your home, outside sleeping areas (hallway), and in each bedroom. Sleep with your bedroom doors closed. A closed door may slow the spread of smoke, heat, and fire.
  • Make sure everyone in the home knows the sound of a working smoke alarm.
  • If you don't have working smoke alarms, contact your local fire agency or the American Red Cross at preparedness@redcross.org or 503-528-5783.

Step 2: Create a home fire escape plan

  • Make a home fire escape plan and involve all of your family in developing it. Walk through your home and inspect all possible exits and escape routes. Draw a map of each level of your home that shows all doors and windows. Identify two ways out of every room, and two ways out of your home. Make sure everyone in the home (including visitors) knows the plan.
  • Keep exit routes, including windows, clear of furniture, toys, etc. to allow access to escape. Make sure all doors and windows that lead to the outside open easily.
  • Identify an outside meeting place a safe distance in front of the home; such as a tree, light pole, or mailbox. Make sure everyone knows where the meeting place is and to go there if the smoke alarm sounds.
  • Make sure your house number can easily be seen from the street during the day and night so that firefighters can find your home quickly.

Step 3: Practice your home fire escape plan

  • Practice your home fire escape plan at least two times a year at different times of the day/night.
  • Smoke is dangerous, teach children to crawl low on their hands and knees under the smoke until they get out.
  • Children, older adults, and people with disabilities may need assistance to wake up and get out. Ensure that someone will help them.
  • When the smoke alarm sounds, get out. Close the doors behind you as you exit. Call 911 from outside your home. Once out, stay out.


Residential fire sprinklers have reduced fatality rates by *50% in communities they are required in.  Fire damage to homes with sprinklers was reduced by *90% on average. 

For more information on home fire sprinklers, please visit the OSFM Home Fire Sprinkler Webpage.​​

Older adults are more likely to be injured or die in a fire and are at higher risk for falls compared to the population at large. It's important to take the necessary steps to stay safe.​

Older Adult Fire and Fall Prevention
According to the Portland State University Population Research Center, more than 30% of Oregon’s population is age 50 and over. In the five-year period from 2007-2012, this age group accounted for 63.5% of fire fatalities in Oregon. In addition, falls are also the leading cause of hip fractures and traumatic brain injuries among Oregon’s older adults.
 
We developed 'Take the Right Steps' fire and fall prevention and safety for older adults to reduce fire and fall injuries and fatalities for Oregon’s older adult population. Check out more on this page. 

Learn more for older adults

Recreational vehicles are a popular way to enjoy all that Oregon has to offer. Whether you use your RV as your residence, for travelling, or both, it's important to understand fire prevention and safety of your vehicle to protect you and your family.

Cooking Appliances

Safe Operation

  • Make sure to have proper ventilation before operating the appliance.
  • Open an overhead vent or turn on the exhaust fan.
  • Keep anything that can catch fire away from burners.
  • Never use cooking appliances for heating.

If you Smell Gas

  • Check your stove knobs to make sure they are in the off position.
  • Put out all open flames (pilot lights, lamps, smoking materials, etc.).
  • Shut off the gas supply.
  • Do not operate electrical switches. Turning a switch on or off can create a spark and may cause an explosion.
  • Open doors, windows and vents.
  • Leave the RV until the odor is gone.
  • Have the gas system checked and repaired by a qualified professional.

Electric Heaters

  • All heaters need space. Keep things that can burn such as paper, furniture, bedding, or curtains, at least three feet from heating equipment.
  • Plug space heaters directly into an electrical outlet. Do not use extension cords or power strips.
  • Purchase and use portable space heaters with automatic shut-off, so if they're tipped over, they will shut off.
  • Place space heaters on a solid, flat surface.

General Electrical Safety

  • Make sure the power cord connecting the RV to the campground electricity supply is in good condition.
  • Inspect for cracked or damaged cords, broken plugs, or loose connections on all appliances.
  • Avoid electrical overload. Limit the number of appliances operating at one time.

Fire Extinguishers

  • Have an extinguisher installed near the primary exit and know how to use it. When in doubt, just get out.
  • Extinguishers are meant to put out small fires.
  • Use extinguishers only if it can be done without putting yourself or others in danger.
  • Once a month, turn dry chemical extinguishers upside down and tap on the bottom to loosen the powder.
  • Make sure the needle on the gauge is in the green, indicating it is fully charged.

Smoke Alarms

  • Install a smoke alarm inside your RV.
  • If the alarm chirps, replace the batteries or the entire alarm, depending on manufacturer's recommendations.
  • Replace smoke alarms every 10 years.

Carbon Monoxide (CO) Alarms

  • Install a CO alarm inside your RV.
  • If the alarm chirps, replace the batteries or the entire alarm, depending on the manufacturer's recommendations.
  • Replace CO alarms based on manufacturer's recommendations.

Fire Escape Plan

  • Make sure emergency exit windows and hatches are clearly marked and in good working order.
  • Make sure all occupants know where and how to operate escape windows.
  • Keep exit routes unobstructed.
  • If the smoke alarm sounds, get out and stay out. Call 911 from outside.

Resources​

Smoke alarms are important because during a fire, you may have less than three minutes to escape. They alert you to the danger and give your family time to get out. You are more likely to survive a home fire if you have working smoke alarms.

 Carbon monoxide (CO) alarms are important because CO is a poisonous, odorless gas that is created when fuels burn. CO poisoning can be fatal at high levels, and can result from fireplaces, woodstoves, gas furnaces or other gas appliances, portable generators, or vehicles left running in your garage. CO alarms installed in your home give you early warning of carbon monoxide.

For more information on ​Smoke & CO Alarms, please visit the OSFM Smoke & CO Alarm Webpage.

People living in the Wildland Urban Interface (WUI), where homes and other structures are built in or near woodland settings or forests, face the danger of wildfire. Wildfires can be ignited by escaped debris burning, the careless tossing of a cigarette, an unattended campfire, or from natural causes like lighting, and they spread fast.

For more information and tips on fire prevention and safety within the WUI, please see the OSFM Wildland Urban Interface Webpage

 

Contact​

​Fire and Life Safety Education Division​

Fire and Life Safety Education Hotline
503-934-8228
osfmce@osp.oregon.gov​

Mailing Address:
Office of State Fire Marshal
3565 Trelstad Ave SE
Salem, OR 97317​


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