Essential Fire Safety Guidelines for Home and Workplace

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A fire is a traumatic event, but preparation for the situation can make a significant difference in the overall damage. Knowing what to do in case of a fire, how to prevent them, and what equipment will keep you protected empowers everyone in your home or workplace to stay safe.

Many people don’t think about fire prevention until they experience a fire. Therefore, knowing what to do in a fire is crucial information. Remember the acronyms PASS and RACE to know how to take action in case of a fire.

The PASS Procedure

The PASS procedure tells you how to properly use a fire extinguisher. If the fire is small and manageable and you have easy access to a fire extinguisher, grab it and follow these steps:

Pull the pin from the extinguisher, press the puncture lever, or release the lock.

Aim the fire extinguisher’s nozzle at the base of the fire.

Squeeze the handle to allow the extinguishing agent to flow freely.

Sweep from side to side, covering the entire base of the fire with the extinguishing agent. Watch the fire and ensure it goes out before leaving the area. If it re-ignites, continue sweeping the base of the fire with the extinguisher.

The RACE Procedure

The RACE procedure teaches you how to react if you find yourself involved in a fire and there’s no fire extinguisher available. You can also follow the standard version of this method if the fire is already too large for an extinguisher to make a difference.

Rescue anyone around you. You can take this literally and help usher people to the exits or yell “Fire!” to alert them if they don’t notice other signs.

Activate the nearest fire alarm if you’re in a workplace with fire alarms installed. Otherwise, continue yelling “Fire!” to serve as an alert for others.

Confine the fire when you leave an area. Double-check that everyone has left the room, then close the door behind you. This action keeps the fire in a confined area to prevent it from spreading while also giving the emergency responders time to arrive and help.

Evacuate the building. After confining the fire, you’ve done all you can, so you need to get to safety. Take the stairs if you’re in a building with elevators. Get as far from the building as you can in case damaged items start to fall. Call 911 from this safe outside location.

In some cases, the last letter of RACE can also represent Extinguish. If you’re able to use a fire extinguisher after clearing the area, immediately follow the PASS procedure to best extinguish the fire.

If you know how to operate a fire extinguisher and the fire is small, try to put it out. If the fire is out of control, yell “Fire!” to alert others inside and quickly get to safety. In a tall building, use the stairs instead of the elevator.

In case the door handles are warm, don’t open those doors—find another way out. If you have to pass through a smokey area, get low to the ground. When you’re outside and far from the fire, call 911. Don’t go back into a burning building.

The Red Cross has reliable tips for maintaining your devices and ensuring everyone in your home or workplace knows how to prevent fires and stay safe in case of an unexpected emergency. The most crucial component is to have working smoke alarms in your home or office.

Everyone should know how to stay safe in their homes—even children. If you have kids, provide educational resources about fire safety, like this engaging video from SafetyKay. Ensure everyone knows two ways to escape the building in case of a fire.

The National Safety Council found that most fires start due to heating a home or cooking in the kitchen. With this in mind, it’s understandable that the winter months see the most home fires. Allow three feet of open area around any space heater you use in cold weather.

Always watch the stove when you’re cooking. Turn the pot handles to the back of the stove so no one will accidentally knock them off the surface and start a fire. Keep combustible materials away from electrical outlets and kitchen appliances producing heat.

Teach everyone in your home or office the importance of using lighters and matches safely. Require smokers to go outside, as a stray spark or ash could catch fire inside. If you light candles inside, ensure someone blows them out before leaving the room.

These are common methods of prevention. However, there are other types of fires that you might not expect.

According to the Electrical Safety Foundation International, overloading an electrical outlet can spark a fire. Knowing the signs of an overloaded circuit can keep your home or workplace safe from electrical fires.

The US Fire Administration found that the lithium-ion batteries in electric scooters and e-bikes also started fires if users didn’t properly charge them. As soon as you see your mobility aid has a full charge, unplug it and store it in a cool, dry location to prevent combustion.

All authorities say that a smoke detector and fire alarm are the most crucial components of fire safety. You should install a smoke alarm in or outside of every bedroom in your home, and ensure you have at least one alarm on every level of your house.

In an office building or workplace, you should install a smoke alarm every 30 feet.

Combustible gas detectors are ideal if your home has gas appliances. These devices will detect gas in the air in case your fireplace, stove, dryer, or water heater leaks combustible gas into the air.

A natural gas detector alerts you to a poisonous gas you wouldn’t otherwise detect, as they’re odorless and colorless. Some examples include:

  • Carbon dioxide alarm
  • Carbon monoxide detector
  • Propane leak detector


You should install these devices near any source of natural gas, like your kitchen, basement, or in a room with windows that might allow natural gas inside.

The propane leak detector might seem unnecessary since the propane industry adds a rotten egg smell to the gas to allow detection. However, if the propane comes from an outdoor source, the soil can absorb the odor, or you might assume it’s something other than gas.

A kitchen fire extinguisher is another crucial piece of fire safety equipment, as most fires start in the kitchen. Having a fire extinguisher handy can make the difference between a stove fire getting out of control or getting stopped at the first signs.

You can also include fire extinguishers in other areas of your home or workplace to ensure they’re always accessible. You should even keep them in your basement and attic, so you’ll have one ready if there’s a fire on that level of your home.

The basics of fire safety include doing everything you can to prevent fires. Never leave flammable materials near heat sources or open flames. Blow out candles before you leave the room, and don’t overload outlets, as that can cause an electrical fire.

Install smoke alarms in and around bedrooms on every level of your home. Test the detectors every month, ensuring they have enough battery charge to alert you to danger. Ensure everyone knows a quick, safe route to leave the building.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) works with the US Department of Labor to ensure all workplaces practice fire safety.

Guidelines include ensuring all employees know how to use the fire extinguisher, how to gauge the fire’s severity, and what to do to get everyone to safety.

Smoke alarms in and around every bedroom in your home will alert people to potential fires. You can place them around the office or workplace, ensuring everyone will easily hear the alerts.

A fire extinguisher will help you put out small fires before they cause extreme damage.

Most workplaces have sprinkler systems installed to put out the fire. You can also install a sprinkler system in your home.

Smoke alarms are the most crucial equipment you can have in your home or at the workplace. These detectors sense smoke and alert everyone in the area to get to safety before the fire is out of control.

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