Fire Safety Tips for Your Home

Smoke Alarms

  • Place properly installed and maintained smoke alarms both inside and outside of sleeping areas and on every level of your home.
  • Interconnected smoke alarms are best because if one sounds, they all sound.
  • Get smoke alarms that can sound fast. Because both ionization and photoelectric smoke alarms are better at detecting distinctly different, yet potentially fatal fires, and because no one can predict what type of fire might start in a home, the USFA recommends that every residence and place where people sleep be equipped with a) both ionization and photoelectric smoke alarms, or b) dual sensor smoke alarms (which contain both ionization and photoelectric smoke sensors).
  • Test smoke alarms monthly and change alkaline batteries at least once every year, or as instructed. You can use a date you already know, like your birthday or when you change your clocks as a reminder.
  • Consider buying a long-life (lithium) battery-powered smoke alarm, which may last up to ten years with no battery change.
  • Install smoke alarms away from air vents.
  • Install smoke alarms on the ceiling or wall, at least 4 inches from corners or according to manufacturer’s instructions.
  • If a smoke alarm sounds during normal cooking or when bathing, press the hush button if the smoke alarm has one. Open the door or window or fan the area with a towel to get the air moving. Do not disable the smoke alarm or take out the batteries. If this happens often, the smoke alarm will need to be relocated.
  • To view smoke alarm guidelines for your state, obtain the Install. Inspect. Protect. Campaign’s “State-by-State Smoke Alarm Guide” at www.usfa.dhs.gov/smokealarms.

Residential Fire Sprinklers

  • If possible, install residential fire sprinklers in your home.
  • Avoid painting or covering the fire sprinkler, because that will affect the sensitivity to heat.
  • Do not hang decorations, plants, or other objects from the sprinkler or pipes.
  • For more information on Residential Fire Sprinklers, please obtain the Install. Inspect. Protect. Campaign’s “Residential Fire Sprinkler Fact Sheet.”

Escape Planning

  • Prepare and practice an escape route with all residents in the home, including children.
  • Know two ways to exit from every room in your home.
  • Make sure safety bars on windows can be opened from inside your home.
  • Crawl low, under smoke.
  • Feel closed doors. If hot, use another exit.
  • Identify a place to meet household members outside.
  • Call 9-1-1 or the local emergency number after you escape.
  • Never go back inside a burning home.

Fire Safety Walkthrough

  • Keep clothes, blankets, curtains, towels and other items that can be easily set on fire at least three feet from space heaters, and away from stove burners.
  • Place space heaters where they will not tip over easily.
  • Have chimneys cleaned and inspected annually by a professional.
  • Clear away trash, flammables and decorative materials.
  • Always use a metal mesh screen with fireplaces and leave glass doors open while burning a fire.
  • Never leave cooking unattended.
  • Be sure your stove and small appliances are off before going to bed.
  • Check for worn wires and do not run cords under rugs or furniture.
  • Never overload electrical sockets.
  • Keep lighters and matches out of the reach of children.
  • Never leave cigarettes unattended and never smoke in bed.
  • Make sure cigarettes and ashes are out. The cigarette needs to be completely stubbed out in the ashtray or run under water.

For more fire preveion information, go to www.usfa.dhs.gov/smokealarms.


Contact the Fire Marshal's Office

Mailing Address:

Fire Prevention Division
Louis L. Redding City/County Building
800 N. French Street, 3rd Floor
Wilmington, Delaware 19801

Phone: (302) 576-3120

Fax: (302) 573-7701

Inspection Hotline: (302) 571-4583

Smoke Alarm Hotline: (302) 571-4361