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  • Writer's picturePeterson Insurance

Fire Safety Tips for Home and Business

Updated: Jan 30, 2023

It can take less than five minutes for fire to overwhelm your home and threaten the safety of your family. While most insured homes are protected with a standard home policy, it's important to practice fire prevention methods.

Three ways to help prevent house fires

1. Prepare and cook meals safely

Cooking is the leading cause of home fires. Preventing a house fire includes properly cooking your meals. It's important to remain in the kitchen while cooking at the stove or stay nearby when grilling. Barbecue grills should be at least 10 feet away from your home or trees to reduce the risk of a fire.

2. Properly use portable heaters

All combustible materials should remain three feet or more away from portable heaters. Maintaining this safe distance is crucial given the dangers of flammable materials like clothing and certain liquids. You can benefit from a heater with a thermostat control feature that will automatically turn off the device if it falls over while in use.

3. Monitor electrical malfunctions

Some common electrical issues are signaled by flickering lights, frequent power outages, power surges, burning odors, or worn-out outlets. Though outdated wiring is a common problem with older homes, electrical wiring issues can also be a problem for newer homes. Be mindful of overloading your outlets with power devices like your phones, TV, and computer. If you're experiencing electrical problems, contact an electrician to address the issues and keep your household safe. Learn about how to get a home fire inspection and how home insurance may cover fire damage.

Fire safety tips

  • Create an evacuation plan for your family and follow it during an emergency. If the smoke is heavy during your exit, stop and crawl to safety.

  • Immediately call 911 when you have made it to safety or if you are trapped. When trapped in a room, cover vents to prevent smoke from entering the room. If your clothing catches fire, immediately stop, drop, and roll! Get medical attention as soon as you can.

  • Store important documents in a fireproof safe. Create digital copies of important files as backup.

  • Check smoke alarms monthly and replace batteries as needed. Most batteries should be replaced twice a year.

  • Rinse and clean chemical stains from clothing before washing or drying. If a dryer fire occurs, keep the dryer door closed to eliminate oxygen flow and call 911.

  • Hand sanitizer, rubbing alcohol, and aerosol cans are common household items that are flammable and should be stored away from open flames.

How to properly use a fire extinguisher

Remember to store fire extinguishers properly on every level of your house. An easily accessible extinguisher can stop a fire from burning out of control. There are many different types of fire extinguishers. Common ones used most often in homes are multipurpose fire extinguishers rated for Class A, B, or C fires.

  1. Class A fires include common combustibles such as wood, paper, or plastic.

  2. Class B fires include flammable liquids, such as oil, gasoline, or paint.

  3. Class C fires are classified as electrical and include fires caused by electronics, faulty wiring, or appliances.

Tips for Fire Safety in the Workplace

Ten easy ways to reduce your business’s risk of fire:

Workplace fire safety is a series of practices that reduces a business’s fire risk and keeps employees and patrons safer. Workplace fires often result in costly repairs and lost business that combine to create a devastating setback for a small business. In fact, fire is reported as one of the most common and costly small business claims.

Fire safety should be top-of-mind for all business owners if they own a food truck, bakery, retail shop, office space or other property. Keep your employees and business safe by following these ten simple tips for fire safety in the workplace.

1. Have an evacuation strategy

Every business should have an evacuation strategy to make it safer and more efficient for employees and customers to exit the building during a fire. In fact, OSHA guidelines state that a business owner must have an evacuation plan as part of their emergency action plan (EAP) if they anticipate anyone evacuating their premises during a fire or other emergency.

Make sure your EAP complies with OSHA requirements and industry best practices.

Communicate your plan with others in your organization, and post evacuation maps near stairwells and main walkways for easy access.

2. Maintain fire safety equipment

Fire safety equipment such as smoke alarms, fire extinguishers and sprinklers should be inspected regularly. Any faulty equipment should be replaced right away. Store equipment in an easily accessible area that’s free from clutter.

Keep up with routine maintenance by setting a calendar reminder or designate a time of year to schedule both formal inspections and independent upkeep. For example, many people use daylight savings time as a reminder to change the batteries in their smoke detectors.

3. Train your employees

Human error is a common cause of fire in the workplace. Mishandling chemicals, improperly storing combustible materials and kitchen mishaps are just a few of the many situations that could spark a fire.

Train your employees how to properly operate machinery and safely store and dispose of hazardous materials to minimize fire hazards. Teach your employees the importance of following safety procedures and staying engaged. It can reduce careless or negligent behavior that might cause an accident.

4. Conduct routine fire drills

Panicking during an emergency can have dire consequences. Help familiarize your employees with your emergency action plan by practicing fire drills a few times a year.

Routine drills can help employees respond to a fire quickly and calmly. Your employees will be better equipped to guide themselves, and others, from your building if they know where to go. Consider having unannounced fire drills to measure the readiness of your staff and address any underlying concerns. Make sure it’s taken seriously.

5. Post clear exits and escape routes

Smoke quickly infiltrates spaces, making it hard to see. Lighted signs can make it easier to locate exits. Consider installing floor lights, especially on main walkways, to guide those who need to crawl to safety.

Post easy-to-read escape routes in several places throughout your building and make sure exits are clearly marked. These maps can direct people to alternative routes and help those unfamiliar with your building to find their way to safety.

6. Practice good housekeeping

An unorganized workspace full of debris and clutter can be a fire safety hazard. Minimize your risk by keeping a tidy workspace. This will make it easier to access emergency equipment and keep escape routes clear.

Establish a designated space for inventory, files and combustible materials to help you stay organized. Regularly purge old files and items that you no longer need to lower your risk of fire.

7. Properly store and dispose of hazardous materials

Designate a well-ventilated area of your workspace to store flammable materials like solvents and fuels. This includes office cleaning products, which are often flammable.

Establish standards for removing oily rags, flammable solvents, gasoline and other accelerants. Employees should use appropriate protective gear and equipment when handling and disposing these items.

8. Schedule routine equipment maintenance

Equipment such as appliances, machinery and computers should be maintained on a regular basis. For example, greasy stoves, lint-filled dryer vents and overheated machinery can all spark fires. Keep a list of your equipment and corresponding inspection dates.

If you hire an outside business to do your inspections and maintenance, make upkeep easier by scheduling your next appointment before they leave. Another convenient option is to schedule all maintenance appointments at the beginning of the year.

9. Establish designated smoking areas

Prevent fire by creating a designated smoking area that’s far away from your building, inventory and combustible materials. Invest in commercial smoking receptacles and limit smoking to a specific area to help keep cigarette butts contained. Dispose of ashes away from flammable liquids and trash.

10. Eliminate electrical hazards

Electrical hazards are common causes of workplace fires. Overloaded outlets, defective wiring and overheated equipment are just a few of the many electrical fire threats businesses face. Encourage employees to speak up if they notice electrical hazards, such as frayed wiring. If repairs are needed, make sure it’s done by a qualified electrician.

Here at Peterson Insurance Group, we have all the resources known to get you a quote today and then protected immediately so you can rest assured that your home and/or business remain ok. Contact us today for a quote to get your home or business.


Peterson Insurance Group is a family-owned and operated independent insurance agency representing multiple insurance companies located in Weaverville, NC. Founded in 2001, the company is owned by Eirene Peterson-Burnette, the successor to the founder, Stom Peterson. Together, with her team, Peterson Insurance provides exceptional, personal service guiding customers through the maze of insurance options. Visit us at 1 South Main Street Extension, Weaverville, NC 28787 or call 828-645-8777.

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