Home Safety


To accomplish our mission, we must reduce the incidence of fire, while saving lives and protecting property.  That is why "FIRE SAFETY" is such an important part of our program.

The following pages will help you understand fire, learn how to react, plan to escape, give you tips for fire safety, and what to do after you have a fire.

Home Safety Topics

What Is Fire?

The Nature of Fire

Every day Americans experience the horror of fire. But most people don't understand fire. Only when we know the true nature of fire can we prepare ourselves and our families. Each year more than 4,500 Americans die and more than 60,000 are injured in fires, many of which could be prevented.

The Ennis Fire Department wants to assist you in educating you about fire, and believes that fire deaths can be reduced by teaching people the basic facts about fire. Below are some simple facts that explain the particular characteristics of fire.


There is little time!

In 30 seconds a small flame can get completely out of control and turn into a major fire. It only takes minutes for thick black smoke to fill a house. In minutes, a house can be engulfed in flames. Most fires occur in the home when people are asleep. If you wake up to a fire, you won't have time to grab valuables because fire spreads too quickly. There is only time to escape.


Heat is more threatening than flames.

A fire's heat alone can kill. Room temperatures in a fire can be 90 degrees at floor level and rise to 600 degrees at eye level. Inhaling this super hot air will scorch your lungs. This heat can melt clothes to your skin. In three minutes a room can get so hot that everything in it ignites at once: this is called flashover.


Fire isn't bright, it's pitch black.

Fire starts bright, but in minutes it becomes black smoke and complete darkness. If you wake up to a fire you may be blinded, disoriented, and unable to find your way around the home you've lived in for years.

Smoke and toxic gases kill more people than flames do.

Fire uses up the oxygen you need and produces poisonous gases that kill. Breathing even small amounts of these gases can make you drowsy and disoriented. The odorless, colorless fumes can lull you into a deep sleep before the flames reach your door. You may not wake up.


In the event of a fire, remember time is the biggest enemy and every second counts!

Escape first. Develop a home fire escape plan and designate a meeting place outside. Make sure everyone in the family knows two ways to escape from every room. Practice feeling your way out with your eyes closed. Never stand up in a fire, always crawl low under the smoke and try to keep your mouth covered. Never return to a burning building for any reason; it may cost you your life.

Finally, having a working smoke detector dramatically increases your chances of surviving a fire. And remember to practice a home escape plan frequently with your family.

Working Together for Home Fire Safety

Home Fire Prevention

More than 4,500 Americans die each year in fires and more than 60,000 are injured. An overwhelming number of fires occur in the home. There are time-tested ways to prevent and survive a fire. It's not a question of luck. It's a matter of planning ahead.


Buy a smoke detector at any hardware or discount store. It's inexpensive protection for you and your family. Install a smoke detector on every level of your home. A working smoke detector can double your chances of survival. Check it monthly, keep it free of dust, and replace the battery at least once a year.


Never overload circuits or extension cords. Do not place cords and wires under rugs, over nails or in high traffic areas. Immediately shut off and have professionally repaired, or replace appliances and lamps that sputter, spark or omit an unusual smell. Have an electrician check the wiring in your house.


When using appliances follow the manufacturer's safety precautions. Overheating, unusual smells, shorts and sparks are all warning signs that appliances need to be shut off, then replaced or repaired. Unplug appliances when not in use. Use safety caps to cover all unused outlets, especially if there are small children in the home.


Portable electric space heaters need their space. Keep anything combustible at least three feet away.
Keep fire in the fireplace. Use fire screens and have your chimney cleaned regularly. The creosote buildup can ignite your roof and the entire house.
Kerosene heaters should only be used where approved by authorities. Never use gasoline or camp-stove fuel. Refuel outside and only after the heater has cooled.


When home fire sprinklers are used with working smoke detectors, your chances of surviving a fire can increase to 90 percent. Sprinklers are affordable--they can increase property value and lower insurance rates.

New technology allows sprinklers to be connected directly to your standard home plumbing system. Individual sprinkler heads are only activated where fire strikes. Consider a home sprinkler system whenever renovating, buying or building a house. Contact your local fire department for more information.


Practice an escape plan from every room in the house. Feel your way out with your eyes closed. Caution everyone to stay low to the ground when escaping from fire and never to open doors that are hot. Purchase an approved chain ladder to climb out of rooms above the first floor, and practice using it. Select a location where everyone can meet after escaping the house. Get everyone out quickly, and then call for emergency assistance from a neighbor's home.


Children under five are naturally curious about fire. Many play with matches and lighters. Tragically, these children set over 100,000 fires every year.

Take the mystery out of fire play by teaching your children that fire is a tool, not a toy. Practice fire safety in your home by following these tips:

Keep matches and lighters in a safe place.
Look for signs of fire play, such as burn holes in carpets, clothes or furniture, burnt matches in a closet or under the bed, or disappearing lighters or matches.
Teach them not to hide from a fire but to get out and stay out.
Have regular safety drills with your family. Practice escape plans.


Every year 1,000 senior citizens die in fires. Many of these fire deaths could have been prevented. Seniors are especially vulnerable because many live alone and can't respond quickly. Show your concern for an older person by reminding him or her to:

  • Never smoke in bed. And when smoking anywhere else, put out cigars and cigarettes immediately if drowsy.
  • Never leave lit cigars, cigarettes, or pipes unattended.
  • Never wear dangling sleeves or loose garments when cooking.
  • Turn off burners when leaving the kitchen. If cooking food must be left unattended, take a potholder or spoon as a reminder.

 Finally, having a working smoke detector dramatically increases your chances of surviving a fire. And remember to practice a home escape plan frequently with your family.

Exit Drills In The Home (EDITH)

In a recent NFPA survey, half the people responding said their family had a fire escape plan, but only 16 percent said they had practiced a plan. This finding is worrisome because it means most people are ill-prepared if fire breaks out in their home. Don't be a fire victim - plan ahead.


Survival Is Simple

You can survive a fire in your home if you know what to do and respond in time.

  • Install working smoke alarms and keep them in working order.
  • Make an escape plan and practice it.
  • Consider installing an automatic fire sprinkler system in your home.

Plan Your Escape

Sit down with your family today, including young children, and make a step-by-step plan for escaping a fire.

  • Draw a floor Plan of your home.

Mark two ways out (including windows) of every room. Discuss the best escape routes with every member of your household. Let children color in parts of the escape plan so they are part of the activity.

  • Agree on an outside meeting place.

Pick a spot in front of your home where everyone will meet after they've escaped so you can count heads and tell the fire department if anyone is missing or trapped inside.

IMPORTANT: Physically practice your escape plan. Have a fire drill in your home at least twice a year. Appoint someone to be monitor and have everyone participate. A fire drill is not a race. Get out quickly, but carefully.

  • Make your exit drills realistic.

Pretend that some exits are blocked by fire and practice using alternative escape routes. Pretend that the lights are out and that some escape routes are filling with smoke.

Be Prepared

Know how to open doors and windows. Make sure everyone can unlock all doors and windows quickly, even in the dark. if windows or doors have security bars, equip them with quick-release devices. Find out if children can reach and operate deadbolts and window locks.

If You Live in an Apartment Building

Talk with building managers to learn what your building's fire protection features include, and what the fire evacuation plan and response are for residents. Ask for regularly scheduled fire drills. Use stairways to escape. Never use the elevator to escape a fire. It could stop between floors or take you to a floor where the fire is. Know your building's evacuation plan. In some high-rise buildings tenants are instructed to stay where they are and wait for the voice instruction from the fire alarm ennunciation system or directions from the fire department.

If You Live in a Two-Story House    

If you must use a second-story window as an escape route, you'll need a safe way to reach the ground. Consider buying fire escape ladders as a means of emergency escape. Make special arrangements for children, older adults, and people with disabilities. People who have difficulty moving should have a phone in their sleeping area and , if possible, should sleep on the ground floor.

Ten Tips For Fire Safety

1. Install smoke alarms

Smoke alarms save lives by warning you about a fire while there's time to escape. Install alarms on every floor of your home, including the basement, and outside each sleeping area - inside as well, if you sleep with the door closed - and test them once a month. Smoke alarms lose their sensitivity over time. Replace alarms 10 or more years old.

2. Automatic home fire sprinkler system

Consider installing an automatic home fire sprinkler system in your home. Sprinklers can contain and even extinguish a home fire in less time than it takes the fire department to arrive.

3. Plan your escape

If there's a fire, you'll have to get out fast, so be prepared. Draw a floor plan of your home, marking two ways out of each room. Go over the plan with your household so that everyone knows how to escape if there's a fire, then physically walk through each escape route.

 Decide on an outside meeting place in front of your home where everyone will meet after they've escaped. Practice your escape plan by holding a fire drill twice a year.

4.In a fire, crawl low under smoke

Smoke and heat rise, so during a fire there's cleaner, cooler air near the floor. Always try another exit if you encounter smoke when you're escaping a fire. But if you have to escape through smoke, crawl on your hands and knees with your head 1 to 2 feet above the floor.

5. Smokers' safety

In North America, more fatal fires start from smoking than from any other cause. Don't smoke in bed or when you're drowsy. Give smokers large, deep, non-tip ashtrays, and soak butts and ashes before dumping them. If someone's been smoking in your home, check on and around furniture, including under cushions, for smoldering cigarettes.

6. Cook Safely

Always stay with the stove when cooking, or turn off burners if you walk away. Wear clothes with snug - or rolled up - sleeves when you cook to avoid catching your clothes on fire. Turn pot handles inward where you can't bump them and children can't grab them, and enforce a "kid-free zone" 3 feet around your stove when you cook.

7. Keep matches and lighters out of sight

Keep matches and lighters away from children. Lock them up high and out of reach, and use only child-resistant lighters. Teach young children to tell you if they find matches or lighters; teach older children to bring matches and lighters to an adult before they fall into young hands.

8. Use electricity safely

Know the warning signs of problems for electrical appliances: flickering lights, smoke or odd smells, blowing fuses, tripping circuit breakers or frayed or cracked cords. Check carefully any appliances that display a warning sign, and repair or replace. Don't run extension cords across doorways or where they can be walked on or pinched by furniture.

9. Space heaters

Keep portable and other space heaters at least 3 feet away from anything that can burn - including you - and turn heaters off when you leave home or go to bed. Have chimneys and furnaces inspected by a professional at the start of each heating season.

10. Stop, drop, and roll - cool and call

If your clothes catch fire, stop - don't run. Drop gently to the ground, cover your face with your hands, and roll over and over or back and forth to smother the flames. Cool the burn with cool water for 10-15 minutes. Call for help.

After You Have A Fire

You might ask why we break windows and doors or put holes in your roof? Fire produces smoke, hot gases, as well as temperatures well over 1200 degrees Fahrenheit. At times, it is necessary to eliminate heat, smoke and hot gases before firefighters can enter to extinguish the fire. The ventilation must be done quickly to help reduce fire spread and smoke damage. Often, walls must be forcibly opened to check for "hidden" fire. After the fire is out, the damage may appear unnecessary; however, without the use of these fire fighting techniques, complete fire suppression would be extremely difficult.


Cleaning / Restoration

If insured, contact your insurance company.   If not, here are some things you might want to consider.

General Procedures

Vacuum all surfaces. Change and clean air conditioner /heater filters. Seal off the room in which you are working in with plastic wrap to keep soot from moving from one location to another.


To remove soot and smoke, mix 4-6 tablespoons of tri-sodium phosphate (available in paint stores) and 1 gallon of water. We strongly suggest the use of rubber gloves and goggles when working with this solution. Wash a small area at a time. Rinse thoroughly. Do not repaint until completely dry. It is advisable to use a smoke sealer (also available in paint stores) before painting. Keep mixture away from children and pets. Wall papered walls usually cannot be restored and must be replaced.


Do not use chemicals on furniture. A very inexpensive product called FLAX SOAP (available in hardware and paint stores) is a safe product to use on wood, including kitchen cabinets. Do not dry furniture in the sun as the wood will warp and twist out of shape.



Use FLAX SOAP on wood and linoleum floors. It will take 4-5 applications. Then strip and re-wax or treat as otherwise indicated by the manufacturer. Steam clean, shampoo, and repeat steam cleaning for carpets.


If you must use your mattress temporarily, put it into the sun to dry - then cover it with plastic sheeting. It is almost impossible to get smoke odor out of pillows. Feather and foam retain odors.


To remove mildew, wash with soap and water. Rinse well and dry. If mildew remains, use lemon juice and salt or a solution of household chlorine bleach and warm water.

Removing Odors

Sometimes there is residual smoke odor from small fires that is annoying and lingering. Short of a good cleaning of everything in the house, you can place small saucers of household vanilla, wine, vinegar, or activated charcoal around your home to help absorb odor. Remember that the smoke odor is also inside the heating and cooling duct work, therefore, a professional service may be required.



To remove smoke odor or soot from clothes that can be bleached, add ½ cup of ammonia to two gallons of water, then rinse in vinegar (use rubber gloves.) Should you have any questions about the cleaning or preparation of clothes, it is wise to contact a cleaning service. Take wool, silk, and rayon garments to the dry cleaners as soon as possible.

Securing Your Valuables

If you must leave your home, try to locate the following items to take with you: (1) Legal documents; (2) Identification; (3) Medicine; (4) Eye glasses or hearing aids; (5) Valuables; (6) Credit cards; (7) Checks & checkbooks; (8) Insurance policies; (9) Money, cash & other valuables; (10) Jewelry; (11) Photos & other family mementos; etc. (allow safes to cool down prior to opening.)


Smoke can damage the lungs of pets in minutes. Sparks will cause painful burns that may stay hidden under your pet's fur. As soon as possible, take your pet to a veterinarian. If your pet is lost in the confusion, call Animal Control (972) 875-4462.


Often, the fire department must disconnect your utilities as a safety precaution. The utility companies cannot always restore your utilities until repairs are approved and clearance issued by the Building Inspection Department.


If insured, consult your insurance company prior to beginning any cleanup. Insurance companies may hire a specialized cleaning and restoration company to help you restore some of your belongings.


All food and medications exposed to heat, smoke or fire should be thrown out.

Counseling Support

After a fire, you may experience feelings of anxiousness, depression, difficulty concentrating, sadness, anger, fatigue, irrational fears and nightmares. These are common responses to a traumatic event and can be overcome with some life style changes and professional help.

It is important to get plenty of exercise during this stressful event in your life. Exercise will increase your stamina and help you reduce stress. It is also important to avoid excessive amounts of caffeine and chocolate. Caffeine and chocolate increase the effects of stress. If you or your family members need support, call the American Red Cross or check the Yellow Pages under counselors. Some employers and health insurance programs provide coverage of this service.

Need Emergency Assistance?

If you are in need of emergency assistance for food, clothing or lodging, contact the American Red Cross at (972) 875-6520.

Relocating After the Fire

If your home is unlivable, and if you cannot find a place to stay, consult with your insurance company to see if you are covered for additional living expenses. The Red Cross may be able to provide temporary shelter until you can arrange to rent a place to stay.

If you moved due to fire, notify the post office, bank, water department, credit card companies, magazines, newspaper, etc., of your new address. Also contact the Social Security Administration if you are receiving benefits.

Winter Fire Safety


The high cost of home heating fuels and utilities have caused many Americans to search for alternate sources of home heating. The use of wood burning stoves is growing and space heaters are selling rapidly, or coming out of storage. Fireplaces are burning wood and man-made logs. All of these methods of heating may be acceptable. They are however, a major contributing factor in residential fires. Many of these fires can be prevented. The following fire safety tips can help you maintain a fire safe home this winter.


  • Be sure your heater is in good working condition. Inspect exhaust parts for carbon build-up. Be sure the heater has an emergency shut off in case the heater is tipped over.
  • Never use fuel burning appliances without proper room venting. Burning fuel (kerosene, coal or propane, for example) produces deadly fumes.
  • Use ONLY the fuel recommended by the heater manufacturer. NEVER introduce a fuel into a unit not designed for that type fuel.
  • Keep kerosene, or other flammable liquids stored in approved metal containers, in well ventilated storage areas, outside of the house.
  • NEVER fill the heater while it is operating or hot. When refueling an oil or kerosene unit, avoid overfilling. Use caution with cold fuel for it may expand in the tank as it warms up.
  • Refueling should be done outside of the home (or outdoors).
  • Keep young children safely away from space heaters -- especially when they are wearing nightgowns or other loose clothing that can be easily ignited.
  • When using a fuel burning appliance in the bedroom, be sure there is proper ventilation to prevent a buildup of carbon monoxide.


Wood stoves and fireplaces are becoming a very common heat source in homes. Careful attention to safety can minimize their fire hazard. To use them safely:

  • Be sure the stove or fireplace is installed properly. Wood stoves should have adequate clearance (36") from combustible surfaces,Chimney Sweep and proper floor support and protection.
  • Wood stoves should be of good quality, solid construction and design, and should be UL listed.
  • Have the chimney inspected annually and cleaned if necessary, especially if it has not been used for some time.
  • Do not use flammable liquids to start or accelerate any fire.
  • Keep a glass or metal screen in front of the fireplace opening, to prevent embers or sparks from jumping out, unwanted material from going in, and help prevent the possibility of burns to occupants.
  • The stove should be burned hot twice a day for 15-30 minutes to reduce the amount of creosote buildup.
  • Don't use excessive amounts of paper to build roaring fires in fireplaces. It is possible to ignite creosote in the chimney by overbuilding the fire.
  • Never burn charcoal indoors. Burning charcoal can give off lethal amounts of carbon monoxide.
  • Keep flammable materials away from your mantel. A spark from the fireplace could easily ignite these materials.
  • Before you go to sleep, be sure your fireplace fire is out. NEVER close your damper with hot ashes in the fireplace. A closed damper will help the fire to heat up again and will force toxic carbon monoxide into the house.
  • If synthetic logs are used, follow the directions on the package. Never break a synthetic log apart to quicken the fire or use more than one log at a time. They often burn unevenly, releasing higher levels of carbon monoxide.


It's important that you have your furnace inspected to insure that it is in good working condition.

  • Be sure all furnace controls and emergency shutoffs are in proper working condition.
  • Leave furnace repairs to qualified specialists. Do not attempt repairs yourself unless you are qualified.
  • Inspect the walls and ceiling near the furnace and along the chimney line. If the wall is hot or discolored, additional pipe insulation or clearance may be required.
  • Check the flue pipes and pipe seams. Are they well supported? Free of holes, and cracks? Soot along or around seams may be an indicator of a leak.
  • Is the chimney solid? No cracks or loose bricks? All unused flue openings should be sealed with solid masonry.
  • Keep trash and other combustibles away from the heating system.


  • Never discard hot ashes inside or near the home. Place them in a metal container outside and well away from the house.
  • Never use a range or an oven as a supplementary heating devise. Not only is it a safety hazard, it can be a source of potentially toxic fumes.
  • If you use an electric heater, be sure not to overload the circuit. Only use extension cords which have the necessary rating to carry the amp load.
  • Avoid using electric space heaters in bathrooms, or other areas where they may come in contact with water. Space Heater
  • Frozen water pipes? Never try to thaw them with a blow torch or other open flame, (otherwise the pipe could conduct the heat and ignite the wall structure inside the wall space). Use hot water or a UL labeled device such as a hand held dryer for thawing.
  • If windows are used as emergency exits in your home, practice using them in the event fire should strike. Be sure that all windows open easily. Home escape ladders are recommended.
  • If there is a fire hydrant near your home you can assist the fire department by keeping the hydrant clear of snow so in the event it is needed, it can be located.
  • FINALLY …Clean your smoke detector

Be sure every level of your home has a working smoke alarm, and be sure to check and clean it on a monthly basis.
Contact your local fire department for advice if your have a question on home fire safety. 

Christmas Fire Safety

Outdoor Lighting

  • Use only those lights that have been tested and labeled by an approved testing laboratory and are marked for outdoor use.
  • Turn off the electricity to the supply outlet before working on outdoor wiring.
  • Keep electrical connections off the ground and clear of metal objects. Use insulated tape, not metal nails or tacks, to hold strings of outdoor lights in place. Be careful not to tape the cords either over, under, or along metal eaves troughs.
  • Run cords above ground, keeping them out of puddles and snow.
  • Tape all plug connections with plastic electrical tape to make them as watertight as possible. To prevent moisture from entering bulb sockets, bulbs should face the ground.
  • When using spotlights or floodlights to light your home or trees, ensure they are marked for outdoor use to withstand snow and rain. Indoor floodlights should never be used outdoors.


Never use lit candles as decorations on Christmas trees. Place candles in non-tip candle holders and ensure they are well away from Christmas tree or other combustible materials. Never leave lit candles unattended and ensure that they are always out of reach of the children.

Matches and lighters are tools not toys! Store them up high where children can't reach them.


Have your chimney inspected at least once a year and have it cleaned if necessary. Always use a fire screen, and burn only material appropriate for fireplaces. Burn only wood - never burn paper or pine boughs in a fireplace as the burning particles can float up your chimney and onto your roof or into your yard. Never use flammable liquids in a fireplace. Because ashes may rekindle, never store them in your home. Always remove ashes from your fireplace in a metal container.

Fire Safety in the Kitchen

Practice fire safety in the kitchen during the festive season. Don't leave cooking food unattended - oil or fat can ignite. If you are faced with a grease fire, remember, put a lid on it and turn the heat source off! Always turn pot handles to the back of the stove when cooking, to avoid pots being pulled or knocked off.

12 Tips for Christmas

  • Make sure your home is equipped with at least one working smoke detector on each level of your home. Have your family implement and practice an emergency home fire escape plan.
  • Ensure that your home heating appliances (furnace, gas fireplaces, wood burning appliances, chimneys) are all in good clean, working condition.
  • Carbon monoxide is a silent and deadly killer; know how to identify the symptoms and install a CO detector in your home.
  • With the joyous season upon us again, use sound judgment when installing your Christmas lights. Make sure you are using UL or CSA approved units only, do not overload circuits, and make sure all cords & outlets are in good condition.
  • When choosing your fresh Christmas tree, ensure that it does not have any loose needles or brown spots. Keep it as fresh as possible by re-cutting the base at an angle before placing it in the stand. Check the water level daily to ensure that it is well watered. Fresh trees are highly combustible especially when they are dry so keep it away from any open flame or heat sources. If you use an artificial tree, ensure that it has had a flame-retardant treatment.
  • Gift wrapping paper and Christmas gift boxes are highly combustible. Make sure all such materials are at least three (3) feet away from heat sources such as fireplaces, candles, portable heaters, lamps, and all wood burning appliances. Wrapping paper is highly flammable and burns at extremely high temperatures because of the additives in the paper. All wrapping papers and boxes should be discarded in the garbage or recycled. Do not burn in the fireplace or wood-heating appliance.
  • Use candles with extreme care; never leave lighted candles unattended especially with children around. Place candles in non-tip and noncombustible holders and ensure they are well away from the Christmas tree, Christmas decorations or other combustible materials.
  • When cooking for the holiday season, practice kitchen fire safety with your family. Do not leave cooking food unattended especially when cooking with oil or fat. If grease or oil ignites, remember to cover the container with a lid and turn the heat source off. You should have an ABC fire extinguisher available in your home.
  • Careless smoking remains a serious holiday fire hazard. Ensure that all cigarettes and matches are completely extinguished before discarding. Place all butts and matches in a metal container or dampen with water before discarding. Before going to sleep, check all furniture and garbage for smoldering embers.
  • Outdoor Christmas lights are exactly that, for outdoors use only. Do not use them in your residence, especially on your tree or near any combustible materials. These lights generate too much heat for indoor use.
  • Prior to going out or going to sleep, make sure that you shut off all indoor electrical decorations. This will minimize the potential for fire to occur.
Change Your Clock, Change Your Battery

Is Your Smoke Alarm Working?

Change Your Clock, Change Your Battery™ is a national home fire safety program sponsored by the International Association of Fire Chiefs and Energizer® Max® brand Batteries, with more than 5,700 fire departments participating nationwide. This program urges Americans to change smoke alarm batteries when changing their clocks back to standard time, which occurs this year on Sunday, March 10.