Fire Safety Tips

Protect yourself and your family with these simple fire safety tips.

Test Your Smoke Detector at least once a week. Replace old batteries with fresh, high-quality alkaline batteries to keep your smoke detector working all year long. When you change the time on your clock, change your smoke detector battery. If you don't have a smoke detector in your home, get one today! Install at least one smoke detector on every level of your home, including the basement and family room and, most important, outside all bedrooms. It is very important to follow the manufacturer's instructions when you install the smoke detector. A smoke detector may very well be the only thing that will wake you up in time to escape a fire in your home.

Make An Escape Plan Of Your Home. Draw the floor plan on a piece of paper and make sure all members of the household understand it. Indicate the exits with arrows going out the doors and windows. Make sure you show the meeting place outside (a safe distance from the home) and that everyone in your household knows to meet there if there is a fire in your home. Make sure you have two ways out from each room.

Practice Your Escape Plan - Sit down with other members of your household and study the escape plan. After everyone is familiar with the plan, hold a fire drill. Have everyone lie down on his or her bed and push the test button of the smoke detector. Remember to feel the door for heat before opening it and have everyone crawl low and exit the home and meet at the designated meeting place outside. Children are at a greater risk of dying in a home fire because they often become scared or confused during fires. Make sure children understand that a smoke detector signals fire and that they should recognize its alarm. While this exercise may seem silly to older people, children love it. Practice will pay off if you ever have an emergency.

Install A Fire Extinguisher on the wall in plain view in an exit way or next to an exit (near the kitchen is recommended). The recommended size is a 2A10BC rated fire extinguisher. Know how to use it.

Portable fire extinguishers can save lives and property by putting out small fires or by containing a fire until the fire department arrives.

There are three basic classes of fires. All fire extinguishers are labeled by the class of fire they are capable of extinguishing. Multipurpose fire extinguishers are labeled ABC, and may be used to extinguish all three classes of fire.

  • Class A Ordinary combustibles such as wood, cloth, and paper.
  • Class B Flammable liquids such as gasoline, oil, and oil based paint.
  • Class CEnergized electrical equipment, including wiring, fuse boxes, circuit breakers, machinery, and appliances.

When fighting small fires, remember PASS (Pull - Aim - Squeeze - Sweep). PULL the pin. This unlocks the operating lever and allows you to discharge the extinguisher. AIM low. Point the extinguisher nozzle (or hose) at the base of the fire. SQUEEZE the lever above the handle. This discharges the extinguishing agent. Releasing the lever will stop the discharge. SWEEP from side to side, moving carefully toward the fire. Keep the extinguisher aimed at the base of the fire and sweep back and forth until the flames are out. Watch the fire area. If the fire starts up again, repeat the process

Always be sure to have a clear escape route that won't be blocked by fire

Never Leave Cooking Unattended - Monitor hot oil carefully and heat slowly. If you must leave the cooking area, turn off the heat. If you have a grease fire on top of the stove, slide a lid over the pan to smother the flames. You may also use a fire extinguisher or sprinkle baking soda in the pan. Never use water, flour, or salt to extinguish a grease fire.

Heating Equipment is the number one cause of home fires in America. Make sure combustible material is at least 3 feet away from space heaters, fireplaces, wood burning stoves and furnaces. Inspect and clean your wood stove or chimney annually. When you leave the room, turn off space heaters - don't leave them unattended.

Store Gasoline In Approved Containers and don't keep more than 2 gallons on hand at any time. Containers must be vapor tight and stored in a cabinet in the garage or outside of the home well away from any source of ignition. Never keep gasoline inside of your home. Keep gasoline out of the reach of children.

Bars On Bedroom Windows must open from the inside of the room. If yours do not, then have them retrofitted as soon as possible with a proper latching device that opens without the use of a key or special operating system (e.g. combination lock). Grates covering exterior doors must also open easily. Do not use "double-keyed cylinder dead bolts" for any residential doors. These types of locks need a key on the inside to open when locked. If you misplace the key, you won't be able to get out quickly enough.

Matches And Lighters are not toys for children. Keep these items out of children reach.

Be Careful Around Electricity - Never stand in water or on damp surfaces while operating an electrical appliance. Don't use appliances or extension cords that are damaged - have them repaired or throw them away.

If you suspect that your electrical system in your home is defective, you should seek professional help with the system. Electrical problems are not a do-it-yourself project.


Don't panic -- do your best to stay calm. Leave the house or apartment quickly. Don't go back in for any reason.

If smoke is present, drop to the floor and crawl to the nearest exit (air will be cleaner closer to the floor).

Never use water to put out an electrical fire. This can cause a serious shock hazard.

Never use water to put out a cooking grease fire. Turn off the heat and cover the pan with a lid to smother the flames or use an approved Class-B fire extinguisher.

If trapped inside and blocked by smoke, close all doors between you and the smoke. Try to seal openings around doors with wet towels and then open a window slightly at top and bottom for fresh air.

Feel the door before you exit through it and if the door is hot, leave by another exit.
In case of fire, use the stairs and not the elevator.

Always use cool water or ice on a skin burn, never grease or butter.

Fire Safety Tips.

Plan an escape route from every room and from every floor in the home. Select an outdoor meeting place and be sure everyone in the family knows where it is. If there is only one exit from the upper floor, have slides or rope ladder available and practice proper use. Practice the plan and make sure that everyone in your family knows what to do in case of fire.

Install smoke detectors on every floor and in hallways leading to bedrooms.

Change smoke detector batteries semi-annually. You can easily remember to change the batteries if you do it when you change your clocks for daylight savings time in the spring and fall. You should also test your alarm regularly.

Keep an approved 2A10BC fire extinguisher in the kitchen, boat and car.

Be sure family members know how to use them.

Do not use frayed extension cords and do not place extension cords under a rug or near a heat source.

Do not overload electrical outlets or extension cords.

Be sure children know their address.

Teach your children how to dial 9-1-1 and have them "pretend" to dial it. Have them practice talking clearly and calmly.

Practice STOP, DROP AND ROLL with your children.

Make sure your babysitter knows the family's fire safety rules, escape routes and meeting place.

If you smoke, do not smoke in bed. Never walk away from a lighted cigarette.

Keep ovens, broiling pans and kitchen exhaust fans clean.

Keep pot handles out of the reach of children. With small children in the house, turn handles away from front of the stove.

When frying foods on stove, do NOT leave unattended.

Do not wear loose or flowing sleeves when cooking.

If a fuse or circuit breaker should blow or keeps tripping, find out why and correct the problem. Always use the correct size fuse.

Make sure your house numbers can be easily seen from the street.

Multi-Story Safety Tips.

Memorize exit locations from your apartment, recreation, laundry and storage areas so you can find them even in the smoke.

If there is only one exit from the upper floor, have slides or rope ladders available and practice proper use of them.

Recommend semiannual fire drills to your building manager.

Know where the fire alarms are and how to use them.

Do not smoke if you are taking medication that makes you drowsy.

If you or a member of your family are handicapped and need help in leaving your apartment, make sure the fire department is aware of it. There are labels available that can be placed on windows where handicapped people reside.

Spring/Summer Safety Tips.

Store paints, fuels and all ignitable liquids in a cool, locked metal cabinet. Greasy rags should be stored in a self-closing metal container. DO NOT store chemicals together that are not compatible (e.g. pool chemicals, oils, gasoline and cleaning products). If you're not sure, call your local fire department.

Never use liquid fuel to start a fire, only approved charcoal lighter.

Never leave a grill unattended.

Avoid using gas or charcoal grills on enclosed porches or balconies.

When on trips, check hotel/motel rooms for smoke detectors as well as alternate means of escape. Fireworks, including sparklers, are dangerous.

Fireworks, including firecrackers, are illegal. Leave them to the professionals.

Stow boat fuel carefully and use caution when refueling. Do not smoke. Be sure to vent engine compartment by turning on blowers when fueling.

Use only flashlights in a tent. Never use candles, heaters or stoves.

Keep your campfire small. When extinguishing fire or before leaving a campfire site, pour water or dirt over it until the coals and ground are cool to the touch.

Fall/Winter Safety Tips.

Become familiar with outdoor burning regulations in your area. Most outdoor fires, including burning leaves, are illegal unless approved by the appropriate authority.

Make sure holiday decorations and children's costumes are fire retardant.

Use flashlights, not candles, in jack-o-lanterns.

Light candles beyond a child's "reach" zone. Keep lit candles away from curtains, off shelves and away from flammables. Put out candles when they're unattended or before you go to bed.

Keep space heaters away from furniture and curtains. Make sure space heaters are off before you leave the house or go to bed.

Watervliet Fire Department

Thomas M. McCormack Fire Headquarters
116 13th St.
Watervliet, NY 12189

Phone (518) 270-3826
Fax (518) 270-5273