In just two minutes, a fire can become life-threatening. In just five minutes, a home can be engulfed in flames.


Home fire prevention

  • Install smoke alarms on every level of your residence, outside bedrooms, at the top of open stairways, or at the bottom of enclosed stairs and near the kitchen.
  • Test and clean smoke alarms once a month and replace batteries at least twice a year. Replace smoke alarms every 10 years.
  • Review escape routes with your family and practice escaping from each room.
  • Make sure windows are not nailed or painted shut. Make sure security gratings on windows have a fire safety opening feature so they can be easily opened from the inside.
  • Consider escape ladders if your residence has more than one level.
  • Make sure anti-burglary devices installed on windows can be easily opened from the inside.
  • Teach family members to stay low to the floor (where the air is safer in a fire) when evacuating.

The Virginia Department of Fire Programs provides tips for home fire prevention.


To escape a fire

  • If you come to a closed door, check it for heat with the back of your hand.  Check the top, bottom, doorknob and any cracks.
    • Do not open a hot door.  Use a window.
    • If the door is cool, open it slowly and check your escape route. If it’s clear, leave immediately and close the door behind you.
  • Crawl low under any smoke to your exit – heavy smoke and poisonous gases collect first along the ceiling.
  • Stay out once you are safely out. Do not re-enter. Call 911.
  • If you cannot escape, hang a white or light-colored sheet outside the window, alerting fire fighters to your presence.



  • The best way to protect your home from wildfires is to create a safe buffer around it, free of dead leaves and other lawn debris.
  • If you become trapped in a wildfire, go to an area clear of vegetation and dial 911.
  • The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CAL FIRE) has more information about preparing for and escaping wildfires.