A step-by-step checklist for fire safety at home

June 24, 2014 

There's a lot to making your home and property fire-safe and fire-engine ready in case of an emergency. It takes time, persistence and regular maintenance.


Make sure that your street name sign is visibly posted at each street intersection.

Post your house address so it is easily visible from the street, especially at night.

Address numbers should be at least 3 inches tall and on a contrasting background.

Identify at least two exit routes from your neighborhood.

Clear flammable vegetation at least 10 feet from roads and five feet from driveways.

Cut back overhanging tree branches above access roads. Make sure dead-end roads, and long drive ways have turn-around areas wide enough for emergency vehicles.


Remove dead leaves and needles from your roof and gutters.

Remove dead branches overhanging your roof and keep branches 10 feet from your chimney.

Cover your chimney outlet and stovepipe with a nonflammable screen of 1/2 inch or smaller mesh.


Create a defensible space of 100 feet around your home. It is required by law.

Create a "lean, clean and green zone" by removing all flammable vegetation within 30 feet immediately surrounding your home.

Then create a "reduced fuel zone" in the remaining 70 feet or to your property line.

Remove lower tree branches at least six feet from the ground.

Landscape with fire-resistant plants.

Maintain all plants with regular water, and keep dead braches, leaves and needles removed.

When clearing vegetation, use care when operating equipment such as lawnmowers. One small spark may start a fire; a string trimmer is much safer.


Stack woodpiles at least 30 feet from all structures and remove vegetation within 10 feet of woodpiles.

Remove all pine needles, leaves and other debris from your yard.

Emergency water supply

Maintain an emergency water supply that meets fire department standards through a community water/hydrant system, a cooperative emergency storage tank with neighbors, or a minimum storage supply of 2,500 gallons on your property (such as a pond or pool).

Clearly mark all emergency water sources.

Create easy firefighter access to your closest emergency water source.

If your water comes from a well, consider an emergency generator to operate the pump during a power failure.

Disaster preparedness

Maintain at least a three-day supply of drinking water, and food that does not require refrigeration and generally does not need cooking.

Maintain a portable radio, flashlight, emergency cooking equipment, lanterns and batteries.

Outdoor cooking appliances such as barbecues should never be taken indoors for use as heaters.

Maintain first aid supplies to treat the injured until help arrives.

Keep a list of valuables to take with you in an emergency; if possible, store these valuables together.

For safety, securely attach all water heaters and furniture such as cabinets and bookshelves to walls.

Have a contingency plan to enable family members to contact each other. Establish a family/friend phone tree.

Designate an emergency meeting place outside your home.

Practice emergency exit drills in the house regularly.

Make sure that all family members understand how to stop, drop, and roll if their clothes should catch fire.

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