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Safety Tips for the Home
Fires can be prevented. A few easy steps can save your life!

  • Make and practice a fire escape plan.
  • Plan for two ways to escape from each room.
  • Plan for everyone in your home-including babies and others who need help to escape.
  • Pick a place to meet after you escape to check that everyone got out.
  • Practice your escape plan every month.
  • Practice getting out with your eyes closed, crawling low to the floor.
  • Involve children in making and practicing your escape plan.
  • Teach children to never hide during a fire-they must get out and stay out.
  • Clear toys, boxes, and other debris from exits.
  • Check that windows open easily. Fix any that stick.
  • Be sure that security bars on doors and windows have a quick-release latch, and everyone knows how to open them.
  • Never open a door that feels hot. Escape another way.
  • Escape first, then call for help.

Escape Plan Facts

  • Escape plans help you get out of a burning home quickly.
  • A home can fill with thick, black smoke in just minutes.
  • A small flame can become a major fire in less than 30 seconds.

Smoke Detectors A Life Saving Tool
Smoke is responsible for three out of four deaths.
  • Install smoke detectors on every level of your home and outside of sleeping areas.
  • Test every detector at least once a month. [See your instruction book for the location of the test button.]
  • Keep smoke detectors dust free. Replace batteries with new ones at least once a year, or sooner if the detector makes a chirping sound.
  • If you have a smoke detector directly wired into your electrical system, be sure that the little signal light is blinking periodically. This tells you that the alarm is active.
  • Inexpensive smoke detectors are available for the hearing impaired.

Home Fire Prevention - Home Heating 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 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.



  1. It is important that you have your furnace inspected to ensure that it is in good working condition.  
  2. Be sure all furnace controls and emergency shutoffs are in proper working condition.
  3. 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.
  4. Check the flue pipe and pipe seams. Are they well supported and free of holes and cracks? Soot along or around seams may be an indicator of a leak.
  5. Is the chimney solid, with cracks or loose bricks? All unused flue openings should be sealed with solid masonry.
  6. Keep trash and other combustibles away from the heating system.


Be sure every level of your home has a working smoke alarm, and be sure to check and clean it on a monthly basis.  Plan and practice a home escape plan with your family.  If you have further questions regarding home heating safety, please do not hesitate to contact Upper Merion Township Deputy Fire Marshal at 610-205-8554 or your local volunteer fire company. 

Home Fire Prevention – Kitchen Safety
Careless cooking starts more residential fires than any other causes.  It is easy to develop bad cooking habits, so don’t get burned.  Practice kitchen safety and cook smart! 

  • Never leave food cooking unattended.
  • Cook with the lowest effective temperature.
  • Do not store cooking fat on the stove top.  A burner on the stove top could be turned on and start a grease fire.
  • Plug in appliances only when you intend to use it.
  • Keep metal out of the microwave – even a metal twist-tie or a small piece of aluminum foil could cause arcing which could lead to a fire.   Use microwave safe dishes.
  • Keep cooking surfaces clean.
  • Do not wear clothing with loose fitting sleeves while cooking.
  • Keep pot handles turned toward the back of the stove to prevent a pot from being knocked off the stove.
  • Supervise young children in the kitchen.  Keep a kid safe zone from ovens and stove tops - 3 feet away from cooking surfaces.
  • Do not touch or move a flaming pot.  By doing so, you may spread the fire or burn yourself.
  • Slowly remove the lids of containers that have been heated in a microwave oven.  The steam inside the containers can cause severe burns.
  • Remove towels, potholders, plastic bags and other combustible items from around the stovetop.
  • Do not hand curtains or other items above stovetops.
  • Hang paper towel racks and towels away from toaster, toaster ovens nand any other heat producing appliances.
  • Do not store electrical appliances in cabinets that have the chance of becoming wet.
  • Replace any electrical appliances that have frayed or loose cords or wires that get hot while the appliance is in use.

Practice these simple Kitchen Safety Tips to keep you and your family safe.

Home Fire Prevention – Bedroom Safety
Practice these simple safety tips to make your bedroom safer.  

  • Never smoke in bed.
  • Sleep with the bedrooms doors closed to slow the fire’s progress toward you.
  • Install smoke alarms right outside sleeping areas.  If you already have smoke alarms replace the battery twice a year and test the smoke alarms monthly.
  • Make and practice your home escape plans.
  • Keep your bedroom organized and do not block your exits.
  • Unplug electric blankets when not in use and store them flat.  Never fold and roll it.
  • Only use heating pads for 30 minutes and unplug when finished.

Home Fire Prevention – Living Rooms, Dens, Attic Areas and Basements
Careless habits can cause tragedies in the home.  Practice these safety habits to make your Living Rooms, Dens, Attic Area and Basements safer.  

  • If people smoke in the house, empty ashtrays often and make sure the cigarettes are put out completely.  Douse contents in ashtrays with water prior to placing in the trash can outside of the house.
  • Limit the use of extension cords.  Never run extension cords under rugs or where they may become pinched.  Extension cords should only be used temporarily and should not be a replacement for permanent electrical wiring for the home.
  • Have chimneys inspected and cleaned each year.  Burn only dry wood or manufactured logs.  Use a spark-containing fire screen or glass shield.
  • Keep combustibles, children and pets at least 3 feet from any heat sources. 
  • Inspect your heaters or furnaces and hot water heaters every year.
  • Have a working smoke alarm in the room or area.
  • Stack newspapers, wood, matches and other combustible items away from fireplaces or coal or wood stoves.
  • Burn only dry, seasoned wood in the fireplace or wood stove to reduce the build up of creosote - which is flammable in the chimney.

Home Fire Prevention – Bathrooms
Practice these safety habits to make your Bathrooms safer.  

  • Run appliance cords away from sink or tub where they can get wet.
    • Install ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs) in the bathroom.  These shut off the current when there is a danger of shock.
    • Use hair dryers and curling irons away from items that might burn.  Disconnet after use.  Don't fold or crimp cords when storing.

    Home Fire Prevention – Garages
    Practice these safety habits to make your Garages safer. 

    • Use proper gauge extension cords with any power tool or high-wattage equipment.
    • Store gasoline in approved, tightly sealed containers and only use as a motor fuel.
    • Keep paints, flammable liquids and other chemicals in their original containers with tight fitting lids.
    • Store flammable liquids and chemicals away from any heat sources.
    • Dispose of oil-soaked rags after use or store in a tightly closed metal container.  Never burn them or place them in trash cans with other combustible materials because they can self ignite.
    • Place un-used charcoal in a metal container with a tight fitting lid in a cool dry place.  Damp charcoal can ignite itself.
    • Use cordless tools when working around water or on grounded components such as plumbing and heating systems.

    Home Fire Prevention – Fireplace and Home Fire Safety

    More than one-third of Americans use fireplaces, wood stoves and other fuel-fired appliances as primary heat sources in their homes. Unfortunately, many people are unaware of the fire risks when heating with wood and solid fuels.

    Heating fires account for 36% of residential home fires in rural areas every year. Often these fires are due to creosote buildup in chimneys and stovepipes. All home heating systems require regular maintenance to function safely and efficiently.

    Upper Merion Township encourages you to practice the following fire safety steps to keep those home fires safely burning. Remember, fire safety is your personal responsibility ...Fire Stops With You!

    Keep Fireplaces and Wood Stoves Clean

    1. Have your chimney or wood stove inspected and cleaned annually by a certified chimney specialist.
    2. Clear the area around the hearth of debris, decorations and flammable materials.
    3. Leave glass doors open while burning a fire. Leaving the doors open ensures that the fire receives enough air to ensure complete combustion and keeps creosote from building up in the chimney.
    4. Close glass doors when the fire is out to keep air from the chimney opening from getting into the room. Most glass fireplace doors have a metal mesh screen which should be closed when the glass doors are open. This mesh screen helps keep embers from getting out of the fireplace area.
    5. Always use a metal mesh screen with fireplaces that do not have a glass fireplace door.
    6. Keep air inlets on wood stoves open, and never restrict air supply to fireplaces. Otherwise you may cause creosote buildup that could lead to a chimney fire.
    7. Use fire-resistant materials on walls around wood stoves.

    Safely Burn Fuels

    1. Never use flammable liquids to start a fire.
    2. Use only seasoned hardwood. Soft, moist wood accelerates creosote buildup.
    3. Build small fires that burn completely and produce less smoke.
    4. Never burn cardboard boxes, trash or debris in your fireplace or wood stove.
    5. When building a fire, place logs at the rear of the fireplace on an adequate supporting grate.
    6. Never leave a fire in the fireplace unattended. Extinguish the fire before going to bed or leaving the house.
    7. Soak hot ashes in water and place them in a metal container outside your home.

    Protect the Outside of Your Home

    1. Stack firewood outdoors at least 30 feet away from your home.
    2. Keep the roof clear of leaves, pine needles and other debris.
    3. Cover the chimney with a mesh screen spark arrester.
    4. Remove branches hanging above the chimney, flues or vents.

    Protect the Inside of Your Home

    1. Install smoke alarms on every level of your home and inside and outside of sleeping areas. Test them monthly and change the batteries at least once a year. Consider installing the new long life smoke alarms.
    2. Provide proper venting systems for all heating equipment.
    3. Extend all vent pipes at least three feet above the roof.



    THINKING AHEAD: Your Exit Plan
    • Prepare a floor plan of your home showing at least two ways out of each room.
    • Sleep with your bedroom door closed. In the event of fire, it helps to hold back heat and smoke. But if a door feels hot, do not open it; escape through another door or window.
    • Easy-to-use window escape ladders are available through many catalogs and outlet stores. For instance, First Alert sells one for around $90.
    • Agree on a fixed location out-of-doors where family members are to gather for a head count.
    • Stay together away from the fire. Call 911 from another location. Make certain that no one goes back inside the burning building.
    • Check corridors and stairways to make sure they are free of obstructions and combustibles.
    • To help cut down on the need for an emergency exit in the first place, clear all unnecessary items from the attic, basement, garage, and closets.

    In an Emergency - Dial 9-1-1
    In the event you need the services of fire, police, or paramedics: Dial 9-1-1 (pronounced nine-one-one).  Only Call 9-1-1 to report:

    • A fire
    • A serious crime
    • Any serious medical condition
    • Any situation requiring immediate response from police, fire or emergency medical personnel

    Clothes Dryer Safely
    Under some circumstances, dangerous heat can build up in a dryer.

    • Never leave home with the clothes dryer running.
    • Dryers must be vented to the outside, not into a wall or attic.
    • Clean the lint screen frequently to keep the airway clear.
    • Never put in synthetic fabrics, plastic, rubber, or foam because they retain heat.

    If Fire Breaks Out
    If a fire starts in your home, you must be able to respond.  You cannot assume that everyone in the family will know what to do unless you have planned for it.

    Be sure and create a safe escape plan and practice it monthly.  Include these safety tips:

    • Identify two exits from each room.
    • Choose a meeting place a short distance outside of your home.
    • When a smoke alarm sounds, immediately go to the exits and do not stop to investigate why the alarm sounded or to take processions.
    • Crawl 12-24 inches above the ground to stay under the smoke and move quickly.
    • Test doors for heat using the back of your hand.  If you feel heat; do not open the door and use your backup exit.
    • If the door feels cool, open it slowly and check for smoke and flames.  If you do not see any smoke and flames; go to your primary exit and get out of the home.  If you do see smoke and flames, close door and use the backup exit.
    • Go directly to the take safe meeting place outside of your home.  Once you are outside of your home never go back inside for any reason!
    • One person should go to a neighbor’s house and Dial 9-1-1.

    Electrical Safety
    Electricity, the silent servant, can become a silent assassin.

    • It is better not to use extension cords. If you feel you must use one, make sure that it is not frayed or worn. Do not run it under a rug or twist it around a nail or hook.
    • Never overload a socket. In particular, the use of "octopus" outlets, outlet extensions that accommodate several plugs, is strongly discouraged.
    • Do not use light bulb wattage which is too high for the fixture. Look for the label inside each fixture which tells the maximum wattage.
    • Check periodically for loose wall receptacles, loose wires, or loose lighting fixtures. Sparking means that you've waited too long.
    • Allow air space around the TV to prevent overheating. The same applies to plug-in radios and stereo sets, and to powerful lamps.
    • If a circuit breaker trips or a fuse blows frequently, immediately cut down on the number of appliances on that line.
    • Be sure all electrical equipment bears the Underwriters Laboratories (UL) label.
    • In many older homes, the capacity of the wiring system has not kept pace with today's modern appliances. Overloaded electrical systems invite fire. Watch for these overload signals: dimming lights when an appliance goes on, a shrinking TV picture, slow heating appliances, or fuses blowing frequently. Call a qualified electrician to get expert help.

    Natural Gas Safety

    If you have natural gas in your home, always be alert for any leaks.  If you smell gas or hear a leaky gas connection, immediately leave the house, then call 9-1-1 from a neighbor’s phone or a cell phone.  Keep all doors and windows closed when you leave the house; this will allow the fire company to better locate the source of the leak. Never strike a match or use a lighter; any spark or flame can create an explosion.  Have the gas system repaired and checked by a professional representative from the utility company before turning the gas back on.

    Fire Safety Starts with Prevention
    Staying fire safe starts before a fire starts, so keep your home fire safe by practicing these guidelines:

    • Keep matches and lighters away from children at all times.
    • Make sure all cigarettes or other smoking materials are completely extinguished
    • Inspect and replace all worn, frayed or broken electrical cords.
    • Recylce old newspapers, magazines and other combustibles and store them in a neat and orderly fashion away from heat sources.
    • Make sure all flammable liquids are stored properly and far away from heat sources.
    • Keep hallways, exits and stairs unobstructed and free of clutter.
    • Repair any broken emergency lights, alarms or sprinbkler-type fixtures immediately.
    You can do your part in keeping your family safe by practicing these simple guidelines.  Stay safe and practice fire safety every day!

    Flammable Liquid Safe Storage & Handling
    Those cans aren't painted red just for the fun of it!
    • Flammable liquids should be stored only in approved safety containers, and the containers should be kept outside the house and garage in a separate storage shed.
    • Gas up lawn equipment and snow throwers outside, away from enclosed areas and any source of sparks or heat.
    • Start the equipment 10 feet from where you filled it with fuel.
    • Don't fill a hot lawn mower, snow thrower or other motor; let it cool first.
    • Never clean floors or do other general cleaning with gasoline or flammable liquids.

    Practice Your Fire Drills
    Fires can happen anywhere. A fire in a large building creates an enormous risk to everyone. Other reasons for evacuating buildings include natural gas leaks, hazardous material spills and storms.

    Knowing what to do is the key to surviving a fire emergency. Conducting regular fire drills will give you the knowledge and confidence to escape a fire safely.

    There are two steps for a good evacuation program - planning and practice.

    Keep Your Children from Playing with Fire
    Parents need to reinforce to their children, that fire is not a toy and should only be used by adults.

    • Keep all lighters and matches away from children, preferably in high and if preferably locked cabinets.
    • If your child expresses curiosity about fire; calmly but firmly explain the dangers of using such devices.  In addition, re-enforce to your child that matches and lighters are for adult use only.
    • Use only lighters designed with child resistant safety features.
    • Teach young children to alert an adult if they see matches or lighters, especially if they are on the ground.
    • Never leave matches or lighters in a bedroom or any place children may go to play or hide unsupervised.
    Following these simple safety tips will help protect your children from fire.

    Help Us, Help You
    • It’s imperative that you keep house numbers visible from the street so that in the event of an emergency; Fire, EMS and Police personnel can find your residence quickly and easily.
    • Numbers should be be visible from the street with a minimum size of 4 inches with a contrasting background and should be Arabic numerals or alphabet letters.

    Home Equipment Safety

    Never store combustibles near hot water heaters, radiators, electrical panels or furnaces.  Children should be taught that these devices are not toys and to stay away from them. Young children in particular must be taught not to play with, stick fingers in, or drop anything into these units. Nothing should be placed on top of a radiator, furnace, water heater, space heater or any HVAC unit (either indoors or outdoor units).

    Have regular maintenance checks done on all equipment in your home by a professional.

    Clothes Catch on Fire - "Stop, Drop, & Roll”

    Stop, Drop, & Roll is a procedure taught to children but it’s for adults as well and should be practiced with the whole family. 

    In the event that clothing catches fire:

    • STOP immediately where you are, do not run.
    • DROP to the ground quickly.
    • ROLL over and over (rocking back and forth if the flames are concentrated in one area) until the flames are extinguished, covering your face with your hands.

    Cool the burn with cool, not cold, water for 10-15 minutes.
    If burns are severe, Dial 9-1-1.


    Chimney Safety
    Professional cleaning removes the highly combustible creosote produced by burning wood and wood products along with any bird and animal nests, leaves or other debris that may create a hazard by blocking the flow of emissions.  Even if you don’t have a fireplace, you should have the vent chimneys for heating systems cleaned to remove any soot and creosote buildup. 

    In the event of a chimney fire, get everyone out of the house and Dial 9-1-1 for the fire department.  By practicing this home safety tip will help keep you safe.

    Stay Fire Smart! Don’t Get Burned

    Here are some tips to follow to prevent burns:

    • Keep hot foods and liquids away from tables and counter edges so they cannot be pulled or knocked over.
    • Have a 3-foot “kid-free” zone around the stove and never hold a child in your arms while preparing hot food or beverages.  Teach children that hot things hurt.
    • Be careful with heating appliances such as curling irons, oven, irons, lamps and heaters.
    • Only use heating pads for 15-20 minutes at a time and do not lie, sit or place anything on the pad.
    • To avoid scalds, set the water heater thermostat no higher than 120 degrees and consider having “anti-scald” devices on tub faucets and shower heads.
    • Remember young children and older adults skin burns more easily. 
    • Test the water before placing a child or yourself in the tub. 
    • Be careful about scalding water.
    • Before you put your child in the tub, test the temperature with your wrist, elbow or the back of your hand.
    • Never leave young children alone in the tub, shower or near a sink.
    • Treat a burn right away. Put it in cool water for three to five minutes. Cover with a clean, dry cloth and remove all clothing, jewelry and metal from the burned areas.
    • If the burn is bigger than your fist or if you have any questions, get medical help right away.

    Practice these simple tips to help keep you and your family safe from burns.

    Clearing Home Escape Routes

    Every family should practice their home escape plans and conduct regular drills.  But one very important fact that can be overlooked is to make sure that all exits are kept clear.  In most homes there are always areas where "stuff" accumulates.  Be sure that all of the exits in your home are free of clutter.  It's easy to get disoriented in a fire and having clutter increases the risk of entrapment. 

    Prevent Leaf Fires

    As the leaves are piling up on the ground and in the streets it’s important to remember to keep them clear of parked cars.  Hot catalytic converters, tailpipes, etc. on the undercarriage of most vehicles can easily catch not only leaves on fire, but also your vehicle. Only park your vehicle on cleared areas of the streets and/or driveways.  Dispose of cigarettes properly.  A thrown cigarette from a car or passerby can easily catch dried leaves on fire as well.  If a fire does occur, dial 911 for the fire department and keep away.

    Bring Safety Home

    Safety in the home is now more important than ever in order to preventable injuries and deaths, which are on the rise in homes across the nation. Knowing the hazards and changing your behaviors is an important step in preventing and responding to emergencies.  A few simple things you can do to make an impact are:

    • Do not use your cell phone while driving and encourage family members to do the same.
    • Get trained in First Aid, CPR and AED.  
    • Make sure family members receive flu shots.
    • Make your home fall proof.
    • Test your smoke detectors monthly.

    Children can help too; encourage them to be safety conscious by:

    • Letting them help conduct home escape plans.
    • Have children help identify safety hazards around your house (ex: electrical cords that someone could trip over, rugs that slip, etc.)

    Carbon Monoxide Safety
    Carbon monoxide (CO) is an odorless, colorless, deadly gas. It can kill you before you know it because you can't see it, taste it or smell it. At lower levels of exposure, it can cause health problems. Some people may be more vulnerable to CO poisoning such as fetuses, infants, children, senior citizens and those with heart or lung problems.

    Carbon monoxide is a by-product of combustion of fossil fuels. Fumes from automobiles contain high levels of CO. Appliances such as furnaces, space heaters, clothes dryers, ranges, ovens, water heaters, charcoal grills, fireplaces and wood burning stoves produce CO. Carbon monoxide usually is vented to the outside if appliances function correctly and the home is vented properly. Problems occur when furnace heat exchanger crack or vents and chimneys become blocked. Insulation sometimes can trap CO in the home.

    Having a working carbon monoxide detector with an audible alarm near the bedrooms can help make your home safer for you and your family.  If your home has more than one story, a detector should be placed on each story.  Be sure the detector has a testing laboratory label.

    Carbon Monoxide can cause the following symptoms: headaches, fatigue, nausea, dizzy spells, vomiting, confusion and irritability.  Long exposures to carbon monoxide can lead to loss of consciousness and eventually brain damage or death.

    Prevent CO emergencies by avoiding dangerous activities.  Never run your car, charcoal grills or other gas power equipment in your home or garage even if the garage door is open. 

    Have your home heating equipment professionally checked and inspected every year. 

    Have your kitchen cooking appliances professionally checked from time to time to ensure they are working properly too.

    If your CO alarm sounds, do not panic.  First find out if anyone in the home is feeling sick.  If anyone has symptoms of CO poising leave the house immediately and Dial 9-1-1.

    If no one feels sick, open the windows and ventilate the home.  Turn off all fuel burning appliances and reset the alarm.  If the alarm does not reset have a heating and ventilation professional check your home as soon as possible.  If anyone begins to show any of the symptoms, leave the home immediately and Dial 9-1-1.

    Propane Safety

    Propane gas is highly flammable.  The new safety standard for propane gas tanks requires that an "over-fill prevention device" be installed in new gas tanks. The new propane gas tanks have valve handles with three "lobes" (prongs) while older tanks have valve handles with five prongs.  People with older propane gas tanks should trade them in for the new, safer tanks.  Please follow these simple safety tips to make your barbecue and grilling affair safer.

    • Check grill hoses for cracking, brittleness, holes, and leaks.
    • Make sure there are no sharp bends in the hose or tubing.
    • Move gas hoses as far away as possible from hot surfaces and dripping hot grease.
    • Always keep propane gas containers upright.
    • Never store a spare gas container under or near the grill or indoors.
    • Never store or use flammable liquids, like gasoline, near the grill.
    • Never keep a filled container in a hot car or car trunk. Heat will cause the gas pressure to increase, which may open the relief valve and allow gas to escape.
    • Never burn charcoal inside of homes, vehicles, tents, or campers.
    • Charcoal should never be used indoors, even if ventilation is provided.
    • Since charcoal produces CO fumes until the charcoal is completely extinguished, do not store the grill indoors with freshly used coals.

    Ladder Safety
    Upper Merion Fire and Rescue Services  wants to remind families to stay safe while using ladders in and around the home. When decorating or cleaning, ladders help get household jobs done, however they can also be a safety risk if not used properly. This holiday season and throughout the year, follow these ladder safety tips:
    • When using a ladder outdoors, stay away from all power lines or other overhead hazards. Coming in contact with live wires can be fatal.
    • Make sure rungs are dry before climbing the ladder.  Do not use in inclement weather.
    • Use the proper size ladder for the job and make sure the ladder is secure..
    • Place the ladder on level ground and make sure all locks are engaged.
    • Rest the ladder against a firm surface at the correct angle.  Follow the 4-to-1 rule for extension ladders: for each 4 feet of distance between the ground and the upper point of contact, move the base of the ladder out 1 foot. If the ladder is at the wrong angle there is a greater risk of it slipping out from under you.
    • Always have someone foot the ladder for you (facing the structure) by placing their foot against the beam of the ladder.  Face the ladder when climbing; keep both hands on the rungs and wear slip-resistant shoes.  Keep both feet on the ladder at all times.
    • If you need to carry items up the ladder, use a belt or shoulder bag.  Always hold onto the ladder with one hand while working.
    • Keep your body centered on the ladder and gauge your position by your belt buckle. If your buckle passes beyond the ladder rail, you are overreaching and at risk for falling.  Do not overstretch while on the ladder, if necessary climb down and move the ladder.  Remove any equipment / supplies that could fall before moving the ladder.
    • For a stepladder, the safe standing level is the second rung from the top, and for an extension ladder, it's the fourth rung from the top. Never go higher than these rungs.
    • Follow the manufacture's guidelines and inspect the ladder for any damage, use common sense and never take risks.

    Babysitting Safety

    Caring for young children is a very important job.  Babysitters are responsible for the childrens safety and must be able to react quickly and correctly in case of an emergency.

    Important Information

    A babysitter must be certain of important information before the parents leave.

    Remember to ask these questions:

    • How many children will be watched?
    • Where are the parents going and when will they return?
    • Is there a phone number where parents, a relative and/or a neighbor can be reached in case of an emergency?
    • Do the children have special food or medicine needs?
    • What time is bedtime?
    • Where is a flashlight in case of a power failure?

    Parent Responsibilities:

    • Have and post important information:
      • address
      • health insurance
      • emergency numbers (9-1-1, poison control)
      • child's information (name, date of birth, medical conditions, medications/dosage, allergies)
    • Have your home address clearly visible from the street and posted near the phone.

    Post the Home Escape Plan!

    The babysitter should know this safety information:

    • If caring for infants or physically challenged children, consider how to get them out of the house in case of fire.
    • Be sure the home has a working smoke alarm.
    • Know CPR. Attend a childcare program.
    • If meals are to be cooked, remember kitchen safety rules.
    • In an emergency, call 9-1-1.

    Things to Remember:

    • If the home has a swimming pool, be sure all gates, access doors, doggy doors and windows are closed and locked.
    • A baby sitter should NOT talk on the phone when taking care of children (unless there is an emergency).
    • Don't open the door to strangers, even if they claim to be friends or neighbors of the family, unless parents gave prior authorization.
    • Keep doors and windows locked.
    • Never leave a child unattended when in a bathtub.
    • Close and/or lock bathroom doors when not in use.

    Home Fire Prevention Tips
    Practice these safety tips to make your home safer.  
    • Install at least one smoke alarm on each level of your home.
    • Test your smoke alarms monthly and replace the batteries twice a year.
    • Do not overload the homes electrical outlets.  If lights flicker or fuses blow or circuit breakers trip or if sparks fly from an outlet; have a licenses electrician check the house’s wiring.
    • Check cords and plugs for wear.
    • Windows and doors must open easily from the inside of the home.
    • Keep matches and lighters from children.
    • Never run extension cords under rugs or where they may become pinched. 
    • Have chimneys inspected each year.  Burn only dry wood or manufactured logs.  Use a spark-containing fire screen or glass shield.
    • Keep combustibles, children and pets at least 3 feet from any heat sources. 
    • Inspect your heaters or furnaces and hot water heaters every year.
    • Store flammable liquids far away from any heat sources.
    • Do not store large amounts of paper or cloth items.

    Most importantly: make a home escape plan and practice your plan monthly.

    High-Rise Fire Safety
    Every year there are about 7,000 fires that break out in high rise office buildings causing deaths, injuries and millions of dollars in fire damage. Most of these could be eliminated if everyone practiced good fire prevention on the job and planned ahead for a fire emergency. In terms of fire safety, a high rise building could be defined as a building taller than four stories or 75 feet since fire department aerial ladders rarely reach anything higher than that. The possibility of a fire deserves serious thought. In a high rise building, it's especially important to know when and how to escape in case of fire.


    • Smoke only where it is permitted.
    • Use large non-tip ashtrays and empty them only when you are sure the ashes, matches and butts are cold. Make sure that no one, including visitors, has left cigarettes smoldering in wastebaskets or on furniture.
    • Be alert around electrical equipment. If electrical equipment is not working properly or if it gives off an unusual odor - often the first sign of a problem that could cause a fire - disconnect the equipment and call the appropriate maintenance department.
    • Promptly replace any electrical cord that is cracked or has a broken connection.
    • When using extension cords, protect them from damage; do not put them across doorways or any place where they will be stepped on or chafed. Check the amperage load specified by the manufacturer or the "listing laboratory," and do not exceed it. Do not plug one extension cord into another and do not plug more than one extension cord into one outlet.
    • Keep all heat-producing appliances away from the wall and away from anything that might burn. Leave plenty of space for air to circulate around copy machines, word processors and other equipment that normally gives off heat.
    • Make sure all appliances in your work area - such as coffee makers and hot plates - are turned off at the end of each work day. It's best to assign one person to make this check every day.
    • Keep storage areas, stairway landings and other out-of-the-way locations free of waste paper, empty boxes, dirty rags and other material that could fuel a fire or hamper an escape.

    Escaping a Fire
    • If a fire does break out, sound the alarm and call the fire department.
    • Large fires start as small fires. Learn the sound of your building's fire alarm. Encourage management to schedule regular fire drills so that everyone will know how the alarm sounds and how to escape.
    • Evacuation plans for your building should be posted where everyone can see them. They should be discussed with new employees during orientation.
    • Learn the evacuation plans and participate in fire drills.
    • Know the location of the two exits closest to your work area.
    • Count the number of doors between your office and each of those exits - in case you must escape through a darkened, smoke-filled corridor where you can't see very well.
    • Close the door to the room containing the fire and close all other doors that you pass through during your escape, assuming you are the last person out. Closing the doors helps to control the spread of fire.
    • If it becomes necessary to use an escape route where there is smoke, crawl low under the smoke. Stay close to the floor where visibility is better, the air is less toxic and it is cooler.
    • Before you open a closed door, feel it with the back of your hand. If it is hot, don't open it. Use your alternate escape route. If it feels normal, open it carefully. Be ready to slam it shut if heat or smoke starts to rush in.
    • Once you are outside the building, move well away from the building to a designated meeting area where all members of your floor can be accounted for. If anyone is missing, notify the fire department - DO NOT reenter the building.
    • If it's not possible to escape from the floor you are on, don't panic. Stay calm. Try to go to a room with an outside window and stay there. Try to keep smoke out and be sure doors are closed.
    • Stuff the cracks around the door and vents using clothing, towels, paper or whatever is available. If water is available, dampen a cloth and breathe through it to filter out smoke and gases.
    • If there is a working telephone, call the fire department and tell them exactly where you are. This information will be relayed immediately to the firefighters on the scene. Stay where you are and wave something to attract their attention.
    • Each person with a disability should be assigned a co-worker (and an alternate) to render assistance in case of an emergency. Participating in drills is especially important for people with disabilities.
    • Never use an elevator during a fire emergency. Most modern elevators select buttons are heat-activated, so they might go to the fire floor and stop there with the doors open, exposing passengers to deadly heat and fumes.
    • Be sure that stairwell doors are never locked.

    Apartment Building Hazards
      Often, there is only one way in or out---no back door.

    Stairways are often built entirely of wood. If the stairwell or walkway is on fire, you may not be able to exit through the front door.

    Congested parking can mean blocked fire hydrants and/or blocked fire lanes. (A ladder truck can be 8 to 9-feet wide and 50-feet long. A blocked fire lane can slow down response time.) An apartment building is, in effect, a very densely populated neighborhood. (If the downstairs or next-door apartment is on fire, it can spread quickly to adjoining apartments in a matter of minutes.)

    Without properly working smoke alarms, it may take a long time before you find out that another part of the apartment building is on fire. Consequently, this could cut your chances of getting out of the building alive.

    Tips for Living in Apartment Buildings Safely
    • Make sure you have smoke alarms that work. 

      Remember to check the batteries once a month, and replace the batteries once a year.
    • The apartment complex is required to have a fire extinguisher within 75-feet travel distance.

      If extinguishers are not provided outside the apartments, then each apartment is required to have one.
    • Don’t park in front of fire hydrants and don’t park in fire lanes.

      Respecting the fire restrictions may literally save your life. When friends visit, be sure to remind them to park only in appropriate parking areas.
    • Never leave smoking materials burning. Never smoke in bed.

      The most common cause of apartment fires is careless disposal of smoking materials.
    • Have a fire escape plan. Practice it.

      Know at least two ways to get out of your apartment. Pick a family meeting place outside the apartment building. Don’t use elevators (they may take you right into the fire.)
    • Make sure there’s a number on your apartment door.

      Help us find you!  Make sure apartment numbers are visible from the hallway.
    • Keep a copy of your apartment number and apartment building number, inside your apartment, near the phone.

      The information will then be handy for babysitters, and it will be there if you panic.
    • Don’t run extension cords under carpets or from unit-to-unit.

      They can easily overheat. Extension cords are for temporary use only. They are not to be used as a substitute for permanent wiring.
    • Get acquainted with the elderly folks in your building or community.

      If there’s a fire, they may have extra difficulty getting out. You may be able to help them, or you can direct firefighters to the elderly person’s apartment.

    Kids In Attended Vehicles

    Teach children not to play in or around cars.  Supervise children carefully when in and around vehicles.  Always walk around your vehicle and check the area around it before backing up.  Be aware of small children - the smaller the child, the more likely it is you will not see them.  Teach children to move away from a vehicle when a driver gets in it or if the car is started. 

    Have children in the area stand to the side of the driveway or sidewalk so you can see them as you are backing out of a driveway or parking space.  Make sure to look behind you while backing up slowly in case a child dashes behind your vehicle unexpectedly.  Take extra care if you drive a large vehicle because they are likely to have bigger blind zones.

    Roll down your windows while backing out of your driveway or parking space so that you’ll be able to hear what is happening outside of your vehicle.  Teach your children to keep their toys and bikes out of the driveway. 

    Because kids can move unpredictably, you should actively check your mirrors while backing up.  Many cars are equipped with detection devices like backup cameras or warning sounds, but they cannot take the place of

    you actively walking around your car to make sure your children are safely out of the way. Do not rely solely on these devices to detect what’s behind your vehicle. 

    Always put something you know you’ll need, like your purse, wallet or cell phone on the floor of the backseat near your child.  Keep a large stuffed animal, like a teddy bear, in the car seat when your child is not in it. When your child is in his seat, put the bear in the front seat as a reminder of what’s in the back. 

    Make arrangements with your child care provider that if your child is half an hour late without a pre-scheduled absence that they will call you.

    Lawn and Garden Safety Tips

    The Upper Merion Township Fire and Rescue Services reminds residents to follow safe practices and avoid an injury when doing lawn and garden projects this Spring:

    ·         Wear proper eye protection when using power tools; avoid loose clothing that can be caught in moving parts; and use earplugs with loud equipment.

    ·         Keep children away from mowers and power tools. Never let them ride on tractors.

    ·         Store pesticides, pool chemicals and fertilizers in original packages, on high shelves or in a locked cabinet.  If possible always lock in a detached shed.

    ·         Properly store ladders along with lawn and garden tools when not in use.

    ·         Check the yard for downed branches, stones, toys or any objects that can shoot out from under the mower; always wear closed-toe shoes to prevent injury.

    ·         Refuel mowers and power tools outside, after the motor is completely cooled.  Keep away from cigarettes or any ignition source when refueling.  Sore gasoline in an approved, vented container, locked in a fire safe cabinet or detached shed.

    Fire Pit Safety

    In recent years, there has been a new concern for the Fire Service - fire pits. Fire pits are known to be a great source of warmth and ambiance. But, with the popularity of fire pits increasing, fire safety has become even more important. There are many things you should consider while setting up and using a fire pit.

    Keep away from flammable material and fluids such as gasoline, diesel fuel, kerosene, and charcoal lighter fluid or vehicles while in use.

    Keep it a minimum of 15 feet away from buildings.

    Do not use flammable fluids such as gasoline, alcohol, diesel fuel, kerosene, and charcoal lighter fluid to light or relight fires.

    Exercise the same precautions you would with an open fire.

    Do not allow children to use the fire pit. Keep children and pets away.

    Do not wear flammable or loose fitting clothing such as nylon.

    Do not burn trash, leaves, paper, cardboard, or plywood. Avoid using soft wood such as pine or cedar that likely pop and throw sparks. Use of seasoned hardwood is suggested.

    Before starting the fire, make sure that the lid will still close to extinguish the fire in case of emergency. Do not overload.

    Before you light the fire, check the wind direction.

    Keep a fire extinguisher or garden hose nearby.

    Safety Tip for Using Portable Electric Space Heaters
    Many families find that portable electric space heaters are an excellent secondary source of heat. To help make sure that your family is safe and secure this winter, follow a few simple safety tips:

    • Carefully read the operating instructions.  These instructions contain important information about how to use the product safely and maintain it properly.  Do not use the heater unless you’ve carefully read the instructions.
    • Avoid placing the heater near water. 
    • Carefully inspect your heater and its electrical cord and plug before use. Never use a heater that is damaged.
    • Use your heater only as a supplementary source of heat. These devices are not intended to replace your home’s heating system and should not be used unless their use is supervised by an adult.
    • To prevent a fire, keep combustibles such as draperies, clothing and furniture at a safe distance — at least three feet away — from the heater.
    • Pay special attention to children if there’s a space heater in the room. Remind children not to poke their fingers or objects through the protective guard. Even the slightest contact with a heating coil can cause a severe electric shock or burn or start a fire.
    • Avoid using an extension cord with your air heater. If you must use an extension cord, it should have a rating 1.25 times the wattage rating of the heater. 
    • Unplug your heater when not in use.

    Take a minute to review and practice these safety tips to help keep you and your family safer and warmer during these cold and chilly days.  Stay warm and keep safe everyone!