Fire Safety :: Nationwide Children's Hospital

Fire Safety

The questions and answers in this brochure are designed to help you, as a parent, make healthy and safe choices for your children.

How do fires start?

Three things are needed to start a fire: oxygen, fuel and heat. Oxygen is present in the air, making fire breathe and grow. Any material that is able to burn is the fuel that feeds the fire. The heat of the fire can come from a match, lighter, heater, stove, or many other objects.

What are common fire hazards?

  • Ragged electrical cords or open electrical sockets
  • Burning candles
  • Lighters or matches
  • Placing an object over a lamp
  • Fireplaces or wood stoves
  • Kerosene or space heaters

What are ways to prevent fires?

  • Keep children away from stoves, candles, grills, fireplaces, campfires, or any place that a fire is present.
  • Turn off all lights, TVs, stereos, or other electrical equipment when they are not being used.
  • NEVER plug several cords into the same electrical socket.
  • Store flammable liquids such as gasoline in a locked place outside of the home.
  • Make sure all cigarettes are completely put out.
  • Keep matches and lighters out of a child’s sight and reach.
  • Although they do not prevent fire, check smoke alarm batteries to assure they work.This will protect your family in case of fire.

What about lighters that look like children’s toys?

Beware of lighters that look like toys. These lighters are often found in grocery stores, mini-marts, drug stores or gas stations. Lighters are now being made to look like cell phones, cars, fire extinguishers, guns and many other objects that attract children. Teach your child that lighters are tools made for adults, not toys. If you buy a lighter, make sure you purchase one that is child resistant and keep it out of your child’s reach.

How can I safely use the fireplace in my home?

  • Always use a barrier such as a screen to protect against sparks.
  • Avoid wearing loose-fitted clothing or nightgowns around a lit fireplace.
  • Put out the fire completely before leaving the house or going to bed.
  • Always watch children when a fire is burning.

Should I use water to put out a grease fire?

No! Never use water to put out a grease fire because it will cause the fire to splatter and spread. If a grease fire starts in a pan, immediately slide a lid over the pan and turn off the burner. You can also throw baking soda on the fire or use a fire extinguisher to smother the flames. If the fire will not go out and starts to grow, get out of your home and call 9-1-1. Cooking is the number one cause of house fires. It is important to pay close attention when cooking or baking.

Is it dangerous to burn candles around the holidays?

It can be dangerous to burn candles at any time! However, twice as many fires are started by burning candles during the month of December. It is important to keep candles in a container that is fireproof and out of the reach of children and pets. Place burning candles in a safe place (never on a windowsill) and away from fabrics such as tablecloths and curtains. A candle in a glass container with a fitted lid is safest. Protect your family and your home by never leaving a burning candle unattended!

How often should I test my smoke alarms?

A smoke alarm should be tested at least once every month to make sure they are working properly. The batteries in a smoke alarm should be changed every six months or sooner if they are not working. Fire safety professionals advise changing the batteries at the fall and spring time change. If your alarm chirps, it’s time to change the battery. Never take the batteries out of a smoke alarm to use in something else.

Where should I place smoke alarms in my home?

It is very important to have a smoke alarm on every level of your home and around every bedroom. Having a smoke alarm in your child’s bedroom will wake them up faster in case of a fire.

Should my family have a home escape plan in case of a fire?

YES! An escape plan is vital to your family’s safety in case of a fire. Everyone in your home needs to know what to do in order to get out quickly. A good escape plan should always have two ways out of every room in case of a fire. When escaping from the fire, stay as low to the floor as possible, and cover your face and mouth with a damp rag or cloth. After exiting your home, go to your meeting place that is far enough away from the fire and call 9-1-1. Never go back inside. All members of your family should practice the fire escape plan often.

What exactly is STOP, DROP and ROLL?

Stop, Drop and Roll is important for children to know if their clothes catch on fire. Teach your children that if their clothes catch on fire that they should stop, drop to the ground, cover their face and roll back and forth until the flames are out. Have your child practice the Stop, Drop and Roll for you so you know they will be able to do it in case of a fire.

I have never used a fire extinguisher before, is it hard?

NO! It’s actually very simple. All you need to remember is the word PASS.
P – Pull the Pin.
A – Aim the extinguisher nozzle at the bottom of the flame.
S – Squeeze the trigger while holding the extinguisher upright.
S – Sweep the extinguisher from side to side covering the area of the fire.

Fire Safety Brochure (PDF)

For more information, visit:

Center for Injury Research and Policy Home Fire Safety

Center for Injury Research and Policy Home Fire Safety for Children

Nationwide Children's Hospital
700 Children's Drive Columbus, Ohio 43205 614.722.2000