Working smoke alarms cut the chances of dying in a house fire in half, and they are a family's first indication of a fire. But once that alarm sounds a fire can spread quickly, leaving only a minute or two to escape, according to the National Fire Protection Association. That's why it's so important to have an
escape plan and practice it using different ways out of the house. NFPA offers more educational resources on fire safety
Practice Home Fire Drills
A home fire is reported every 86 seconds. Despite this threat, families rarely practice home fire drills, and nearly half of parents report their children do not know what to do in the event of a fire.
Home Fire Drill Day, a safety observance developed by Nationwide in partnership with NSC and other organizations, is held at the end of Fire Prevention Week each year in October. But families can practice home fire drills any time and take advantage of tools and resources offered at
- Step-by-step instructions for doing a home fire drill
- Games to make the experience memorable for kids
- Worksheet to help you draw a floor plan of your home
- Video of a fire drill in action
- Family pledge to practice a home fire drill twice a year
- Downloadable fire safety resources to share with friends and family
- Link to download the free Make Safe Happen mobile app that puts home fire drill instructions, including a drill timer, in the palm of your hand
Practice as a family, take the pledge to practice home fire drills twice a year, and encourage others to take the pledge.
Leading Causes of Fire
Over the past several decades, deaths from home structure fires in the United States have steadily gone down – from 5,200 in 1980 to 2,646 in 2015, according to
Injury Facts 2017®.
But even one death from a preventable fire is too many. While fire doesn't discriminate by age, it is the third leading cause of death for children ages 1 to 14. In 2015, 232 children in this age group died from fire and smoke inhalation.
Cooking equipment is the leading cause of home structure fires and fire injuries, followed by heating equipment, according to NFPA. Other causes include smoking, electrical problems, children playing with fire and candles.
What You Can Do
NSC provides the following tips to keep your home safe from fire:
both types of smoke alarms (ionization and photoelectric) and carbon monoxide alarms; change the batteries at least once a year in these devices
Plan – and practice – an escape route and agree on a meeting place outside of your home; be prepared to assist young children, family members with special needs and pets
Know two ways out of every room in the home
- Learn how to use your fire extinguisher
- If your clothes catch on fire, stop, drop and roll
- When evacuating, if door handles are hot, pick an alternate route
- Leave your house and call for help; do not go back to help someone else
U.S. Fire Administration offers these additional tips to keep children safe from fire and burns:
- Keep children 3 feet away from anything hot, like candles, space heaters and stove-tops
- Keep smoking materials locked up in a high place; never leave cigarette lighters or matches where children can reach them
- Never play with lighters or matches when you are with your children; they may try to imitate you