Safety Education


What is Carbon Monoxide?

Carbon Monoxide is the leading cause of poisoning deaths in America.

Carbon Monoxide (CO) is colorless, odorless deadly gas. Because you cannot see, taste, or smell it, carbon monoxide can kill you before you even know it is there.

Who is at Risk?

Everyone is at risk for carbon monoxide poisoning. Experts believe, however, that individuals with greater oxygen requirements such as unborn babies, infants, children, senior citizens, and people with coronary or respiratory problems are at greater risk.

Why is it dangerous?

The great danger of carbon monoxide is its attraction to hemoglobin in the bloodstream. CO is breathed in through the lungs and bonds with hemoglobin in the blood, displacing the oxygen cells needed to function. When CO is present in the air, it rapidly accumulates in the blood, forming a toxic compound known as carboxyhemoglobin (COHg).

Where does it come from?

Carbon monoxide is a by-product of combustion, present whenever fuel is burned. It is produced by common home appliances, such as gas or oil furnaces, refrigerators or clothes dryers, water heaters, fireplaces, charcoal grills, gas ranges, wood burning stoves, and space heaters. Fumes from automobiles also contain carbon monoxide and can enter a home through walls or doorways if a car is left running in an attached garage.

All of these sources can contribute to a CO problem in the home. If a home is vented properly and is free from appliance malfunctions, air pressure fluctuations or airway blockages, carbon monoxide will most likely be safely vented to the outside. But in today's energy-efficient homes this is frequently not the case. Insulation meant to keep warm air in during winter months can trap CO-polluted air in a home year-round. Furnace heat exchangers can crack, vents can become blocked, inadequate air supply for combustion appliances can cause conditions known as back-drafting or reverse stacking, which force contaminated air back into the home.

Common Sources of CO:
  • Blocked chimney top opening Clogged chimney
  • Leaking chimney pipe or flue
  • Gas or wood burning fireplace heater vent pipe
  • Cracked heat exchanger
  • Gas clothes dryer or hot water heater
  • Improperly installed gas range or cook-top vent
  • Operating BBQ grill in enclosed area
  • Portable heaters
How do I protect my family?

Like smoke detectors, carbon monoxide detectors are now required by law.

Since 2012, the State of California has required that every already existing as well as new apartment, condo, house, or other dwelling unit have a carbon monoxide detector installed on each level of the dwelling unit if there is a gas or wood burning fireplace, natural gas fueled cooking or heating appliances (furnace, hot water), and/or an attached garage. Some units are designed to be plugged in near the floor and others are designed to be placed on or near the ceiling. The unit(s) must be Underwriter's Laboratories (UL) listed that sounds an audible alarm. Some carbon monoxide detectors are combined with a smoke detector.

The warm glow of candles can help set the mood for holiday celebrations and are often used for religious purposes, but did you know that a home fire caused by candles is reported in the United States every 34 minutes?

The majority of candle fires result from human error and negligence.

Candle fires and the damage they can cause are preventable.

  • If possible, avoid using lighted candles.
  • If you must use a lighted candle, place it in a sturdy, stable holder.
  • Keep candles away from children and pets.
  • Extinguish candles after each use.
  • Never leave burning candles unattended.
  • Place candles well away from combustible materials especially materials above the candle and materials such as curtains that might blow onto the candle.
  • Ensure that the surface beneath the candle will not ignite from the heat of the wick as it burns to the bottom of the candle.

Learn what you can do to prevent a tragic candle fire from starting in your home at

How to Survive

Install and maintain smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors on all levels of the house

Make an escape plan and practice it

Plan at least 2 ways out of each room in case one way is blocked

Consider if anyone in the home has special needs and how they will exit the house

Consider installing an automatic fire-sprinkler system

Plan Your Escape

Draw a floor plan of your home

Image of a house floor plan

Agree on a nearby meeting place in the front outside

Practice your escape plan

Make your exit drills realistic

Be Prepared

If you live in an apartment building, use stairways to escape. Never use an elevator during a fire.

If you live in a two-story house, and you must escape from a second-story window, be sure there is a safe way to reach the ground. Consider removing objects beneath second floor windows that might injure someone dropping from that window. People who have difficulty moving should have a phone in their sleeping area and, if possible, should sleep on the ground floor.

Test doors before opening them. While kneeling or crouching at the door, using the back of your hand reach up and touch the door, the knob, and the space between the door and its frame. If the door is hot, use another route. If the door is cool, open it slowly with caution.

If you are trapped, close all doors between you and the fire. Stuff the cracks around the doors to keep the smoke out. Wait at a window and signal for help with a light colored cloth or flashlight. If there's a phone in the room, call the fire department and tell them exactly where you are.

Get out fast. In case of fire, don't stop for anything. Do not try to rescue possessions or pets. Go directly to your meeting place and then call the fire department from a neighbor's phone or an alarm box. Every member of your household should know how to call the fire department.

Crawl low under smoke. Smoke contains deadly gases, and heat rises. During a fire, cleaner and cooler air will be near the floor. If you encounter smoke when using your primary exit, use your alternate escape plan. If you must exit through smoke, crawl on your hands and knees, keeping your head 12 to 24 inches above the floor.

STAY OUT. Once you are out of the home don't go back for any reason. If people are trapped, the firefighters have the best chance of rescuing them.

Practice, Practice, Practice

Practice evacuation with the whole family. It isn't enough to talk about your escape plan. You need to rehearse it until everyone knows exactly what they should do. Set off the smoke alarm so everyone knows what it sounds like. Practice crawling to an exit. Be sure your children understand they should never hide in the house during a fire we may not be able to find them quickly.

Dryer Vents

Check your dryer housing, dryer vent and vent hose regularly for lint accumulation. Heat build-up could spark a fire in the hose or in your dryer.

Dryer vents should be made of rigid metal. Flexible plastic vents can be damaged by high heat, age and contact with other objects, while accordion vents (plastic or metal) can crimp and are more likely to trap lint.

The vent should be run as short a distance as possible and never more than 25 feet in a straight line.

All vents should discharge directly to the home's exterior, never to a crawl space, attic, garage or chimney. Make sure you have a back draft damper at the termination point.

Electrical Appliances

Replace or repair appliances that do not operate properly.

Plug in portable appliances only when in use.

Do not cut the third prong (ground) off the appliance plug. The third prong is there to prevent electric shock. If necessary buy an adaptor available at most hardware stores.

When you shop for appliances or tools, look for recognizable Underwriters Laboratories (UL) label or Factory Mutual (FM) labels.

Have a professional electrician check for faulty wiring, especially if you are moving into an older home. Be certain your wiring is professional and can handle today's sophisticated electrical needs.

Never us an electrical appliance for anything other than its intended use. Hair dryers aren't meant to dry clothing and ovens aren't intended to heat your home.

Unplug all appliances when not in use, including toasters, space-heaters, coffee makers, and irons. When plugged into an outlet, all appliances still have dangerous electrical voltages inside them even when they are turned off.

Keep appliances and their cords away from water. If an appliance falls into the water, don't retrieve it until you have unplugged the appliance.

An appliance that has fallen into water should not be used again until it has been properly inspected by a qualified technician. Water damaged products can give a lethal electric shock.

Electrical Cords

Replace frayed or cracked cords.

Uncover cords covered by carpeting or furniture.

Don't use extension cords. Instead, use a power strip or surge protector (such as commonly used with computers).

Fire Extinguishers

Keep fire extinguishers handy. Multi-purpose dry chemical extinguishers (2A10BC, 3A40BC, etc.) work well on wood, grease, other flammable liquid and electrical fires. Make sure there is at least one extinguisher on each floor of your house particularly in or near the kitchen, garage, laundry room and workshop.

Have every adult in the household read the extinguisher instruction manual so they know how to use it properly.

Periodically inspect your extinguishers to determine if they need to be recharged or replaced.


Clean your fireplace regularly and have the chimney cleaned and inspected every year.

Use a screen around the fireplace to protect your home from popping embers.

Extinguish the fire before you go to sleep.

Place embers in a closed metal container on a fire-proof surface away from combustible materials.

Never start a fire or try to revive one with gasoline or other flammable liquids.

Trim tree green branches back at least 10 feet from your chimney. Completely remove dry branches from around your roof.

Furnace Maintenance

Check heating equipment regularly for rusted parts and insecure mountings.

Keep all combustible materials at least 3 feet away from the furnace.

Install a ceiling of fire-resistive materials such as fire drywall or fire-resistant acoustic tile around the furnace especially if heating equipment is in a basement that is used often

Halogen Floor Lamps

Never place material of any kind on top of a halogen lamp. Halogen bulbs use less energy than incandescent bulbs, but they burn much hotter.

Never place a halogen lamp in children's bedrooms or playrooms.

Don't use a bulb higher than 300 watts in your halogen lamp.

Avoid leaving high-wattage (more that 100-watts) halogen lamps on when you leave the room or when you are not at home.

Never touch a halogen bulb with bare fingers. Even a bulb that has been turned off for several hours can burn you, and your skin oils will damage the bulb.

Kerosene Heaters

Never add fuel to an outdoor portable heater that is turned on or still hot. The fuel could explode.

Store kerosene in tightly sealed containers labeled "kerosene". Store fuel only outdoors and out of reach of children.

If flames appear outside the heater cabinet call the fire department immediately. Do not attempt to move the heater.

Place the heater at least 3 feet from combustible materials.

Light Bulbs

Unnecessarily high wattage bulbs may lead to fire through overheating. Many lighting fixtures recommend using bulbs no higher than 60 watts.

Replace bulbs with a bulb of the correct type and wattage.

If you are not sure, only use a 60 watt bulb.

Smoking & Matches

Smoking is still the leading cause of deadly home fires. NEVER smoke in bed, while taking a nap on the couch, or when you are drowsy!

Never empty ashtrays into the trash can shortly after smoking. Wait several hours for the smoldering embers to completely extinguish themselves.

Thoroughly check both sides of the couch and chair cushions for cigarette butts and dropped ashes.

If a cushion or couch has been burned or scorched put it outside away from the house overnight and call the fire department.

Never smoke or light matches near flammable materials.

Teach children the danger of playing with matches. Keep matches away from children's reach.

Space Heaters

Use only electrically powered space heaters inside your home.

Never run the heater's cord under a carpet, rug or furniture. This could cause the cord to overheat and start a fire.

Keep combustible materials - including bedding, clothing, draperies, rugs and furniture - at least 3 feet away from the heater, even if your space heater has safety features such as cut-off switches or heating element guards.

Don't use a space heater in rooms where children are unsupervised. They might poke fingers or other objects through the heater protective guards. Even the slightest contact with a heating coil or element can cause a severe shock, burn or fire.

Never leave space heaters on while you are napping or sleeping.

Wood or Coal Burning Stoves

Check your stove pipes and chimney regularly for creosote build-up. Shiny creosote deposits look like black paint and are an indication that your wood stove is not working properly.

Burn seasoned wood to minimize creosote build-up. Wood stored in the Spring will be seasoned and ready to burn in the Fall although a longer storage time is preferable.

Don't overload the stove with wood. This can cause the wood to smolder and produces excessive creosote build-up.

Keep combustibles away from the stove.

Keep a dry chemical fire extinguisher on hand in the event of a chimney fire. Close the damper and air inlet immediately then call the fire department.

Don't connect a wood stove to a fireplace chimney unless the chimney has been properly sealed around the stove-pipe. Don't connect more than one stove to a chimney.

Home Fire Sprinkler Systems (PDF)

Every season brings with it distinct beauty and many opportunities for fun activities with family and friends. Each season also brings reminders that "safety first" will ensure future success and good times. Here are a few seasonal safety tips courtesy of the Modesto Regional Fire Authority.

Bicycle Safety

Bicycle riding is fun, healthy, and a great way to be independent. It is important to remember that a bicycle is not a toy: It is a vehicle! The Modesto Regional Fire Authority offers bicycle licenses to the public every Saturday, between 2:00 p.m. and 4:00 p.m. To license your bicycle, visit one of our eleven fire stations located throughout the City. The cost for a license is $3.00. Without a license, it is difficult to find a lost or stolen bicycle.

Safety Tips

Wear a Properly Fitted Bicycle Helmet. Protect your brain, save your life. For more information see the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration publication "Easy Steps to Properly Fit a Bicycle Helmet."

Adjust Your Bicycle to Fit. Stand over your bicycle. There should be 1 to 2 inches between you and the top tube (bar) if using a road bike and 3 to 4 inches if a mountain bicycle. The seat should be level front to back. The seat height should be adjusted to allow a slight bend at the knee when the leg is fully extended. The handlebar height should be at the same level with the seat.

Check Your Equipment. Before riding, inflate tires properly and check that your brakes work.

See and Be Seen. Whether daytime, dawn, dusk, foul weather, or at night, you need to be seen by others. Wearing white has not been shown to make you more visible. Rather, always wear neon, fluorescent, or other bright colors when riding day or night. Also wear something that reflects light, such as reflective tape or markings, or flashing lights. Remember, just because you can see a driver doesn't mean the driver can see you.

Control Your Bicycle. Always ride with at least one hand on the handlebars. Carry books and other items in a bicycle carrier or backpack.

Watch for and Avoid Road Hazards. Be on the lookout for hazards such as potholes, broken glass, gravel, puddles, leaves, and dogs. All these hazards can cause a crash. If you are riding with friends and you are in the lead, yell out and point to the hazard to alert the riders behind you.

Avoid Riding at Night. It is far more dangerous to ride at night than during the day because it is harder for others to see you. If you have to ride at night, wear something that makes you more easily seen by others. Make sure you have reflectors on the front and rear of your bicycle (white lights on the front and red rear reflectors are required by law in many States), in addition to reflectors on your tires, so others can see you.

Obey Applicable Traffic Laws. Use of a bicycle on public streets is subject to the California Vehicle Code. Many laws affecting automobiles also apply to bicycles.

Candle Safety

The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) suggests the following safety tips when using candles:

Extinguish all candles when leaving the room or when going to sleep.

Keep candles away from items that can catch fire such as clothing, books, paper, curtains, Christmas trees, flammable decorations or anything else that burns.

Make sure candles are placed on a stable piece of furniture in sturdy holders that won't tip over. Candles should fit in the holders securely and holders should be made from material that can't burn.

Use flashlights for temporary lighting in power outages, not candles. Keep plenty of fresh batteries on hand during thunderstorm seasons.

Make sure the candleholder is big enough to collect dripping wax.

Don't allow children or teens to have candles in their bedrooms.

Don't place lit candles in windows, where blinds or curtains can close over them.

Do not use candles in places where they could be knocked over by children or pets.

Keep candles and all open flames away from flammable liquids.

When purchasing or using candles, consider what would happen if the candle burned low. Could it burn the candleholder or decorative material nearby or underneath?

Avoid candles with combustible items embedded in them.

Extinguish taper and pillar candles when they get within two inches of the holder or decorative material. Votives and container candles should be extinguished before the last 1½ inch of wax starts to melt.

Christmas Safety

Carefully decorated Christmas trees can help make your holidays safer.

Safety Tips

When decorating Christmas trees, always use safe tree lights. (Some lights are designed only for indoor or outdoor use, but not both.) Larger tree lights should also have some type of reflector rather than a bare bulb and all lights should be listed by a testing laboratory.

Never use electric lights on a metal tree.

Follow the manufacturer's instructions on how to use tree lights. Any string of lights with worn, frayed or broken cords or loose bulb connections should not be used.

Always unplug Christmas tree lights before leaving home or going to sleep.

Never use lit candles to decorate a tree, and place them well away from tree branches.

Do not place a live Christmas tree near a fireplace which can cause the tree to ignite.

Do not place a live Christmas tree near heater vents which can cause the tree to dry out rapidly.

Try to keep live trees as moist as possible by giving them plenty of water daily. Do not purchase a tree that is dry or dropping needles.

Make sure the tree is at least three feet (one meter) away from any heat source and try to position it near an outlet so that cords are not running long distances. Do not place the tree where it may block exits.

Choose a sturdy tree stand designed not to tip over.

When purchasing an artificial tree, be sure it is labeled as fire-retardant.

Children are fascinated with Christmas trees. Keep a watchful eye on them when around the tree and do not let them play with the wiring or lights.

Store matches and lighters up high, out of the reach of children, preferably in a locked cabinet.

Safely dispose of the tree when it begins dropping needles. Dried-out trees are highly flammable and should not be left in a house or garage, or placed against the house.

Fireworks Safety

4th of July Safety Tips


Remember: Parents are liable for any damage or injuries caused by their children using fireworks.

Image of Safe and Sane logo

Safe and Sane fireworks may only be purchased from a State Fire Marshal licensed retail stand from noon on June 28th to noon on July 5th. The State Fire Marshal's Safe & Sane book lists names of legal fireworks by company and assortment. Only fireworks that carry this California seal are legal in the State of California. Which fireworks are illegal? Click here to find out.

We suggest the following safety tips:

  • Always read directions
  • Have an adult present
  • Use outdoors only
  • Do not use near dry grass or other flammable materials
  • Light only one at a time
  • Keep a safe distance away from fireworks
  • Never point or throw fireworks at another person
  • Never experiment with fireworks
  • Never alter the design or shape of a firework
  • Fireworks are not toys
  • Have water handy
  • Never attempt to relight or "fix" fireworks
  • Never carry fireworks in your pockets
  • Do not wear loose fitting clothing
  • Never place any part of your body directly over a firework when lighting it

These fireworks are illegal in the State of California

Image of illegal fireworks

If you find a suspicious device...

DO NOT touch it

If possible, isolate the item and evacuate the immediate area

DO NOT put it in water or a confined space like a drawer or file cabinet

If possible, open windows in the immediate area to help vent any explosive gasses.

If you have any reason to believe this is a pipe bomb, DO NOT take a chance:

Halloween Safety

Before Halloween

Plan costumes that are bright and reflective. Make sure that shoes fit well and that costumes are short enough to prevent tripping, entanglement or contact with flame.

Consider adding reflective tape or striping to costumes and trick-or-treat bags for greater visibility.

Secure emergency identification (name, address, phone number) discreetly within Halloween attire or on a bracelet

Because a mask can limit or block eyesight, consider non-toxic and hypoallergenic makeup or a decorative hat as a safe alternative.

When shopping for costumes, wigs and accessories purchase only those with a label indicating they are flame resistant.

Think twice before using simulated knives, guns or swords. If such props must be used, be certain they do not appear authentic and are soft and flexible to prevent injury

Obtain flashlights with fresh batteries for all children and their escorts. Plan ahead to use only battery powered lanterns or chemical lightsticks in place of candles in decorations and costumes.

This is also a great time to buy fresh batteries for your home Smoke Detectors!

Teach children their home phone number and how to call 9-1-1 if they have an emergency or become lost. Remind them that 9-1-1 can be dialed free from any phone.

Review with your children the principle of "Stop-Drop-Roll" should their clothes catch on fire.

Openly discuss appropriate and inappropriate behavior at Halloween time.

Consider purchasing individually packaged healthy food alternatives (or safe non-food treats) for those who visit your home.

Take extra effort to eliminate tripping hazards on your porch and walkway. Check around your property for flower pots, low tree limbs, support wires, or garden hoses that may prove hazardous to young children rushing from house to house.

Learn or review CPR skills to aid someone who is choking or having a heart attack.

Consider safe party guidelines when hosting an Adult or Office Party.

Fun Alternatives

Find a special event or start one in your own neighborhood.

Community Centers, shopping malls and houses of worship may have organized festivities.

Share the fun by arranging a visit to a retirement home or senior center.

Create an alliance with college fraternities, sororities or service clubs for children's face painting or a carnival.

Before Nightfall on Halloween

A good meal prior to parties and trick-or-treating will discourage youngsters from filling up on Halloween treats.

Consider fire safety when decorating. Do not overload electrical outlets with holiday lighting or special effects, and do not block exit doors.

While children can help with the fun of designing a Jack O' Lantern leave the carving to adults. Always keep Jack O' Lanterns and hot electric lamps far away from drapes, decorations, combustible materials or areas where children and pets will be standing or walking.

Plan and review with your children the route they will walk. Review behavior which is acceptable to you. Do not permit children to bicycle, roller-blade or skateboard.

Agree on a specific time when revelers must return home.

Along with flashlights for all, older children and escorts should wear a wristwatch and carry a cell phone or coins for non-emergency phone calls.

Confine, secure, segregate or otherwise prepare household pets for an evening of frightful sights and sounds. Be sure that all dogs and cats are wearing collars and proper identification tags. Consult your veterinarian for further advice.

Remind all household drivers to remain cautious and drive slowly throughout the community. Adult partygoers should establish and reward a designated driver.

When Trick or Treating

A parent or responsible adult should always accompany young children on their neighborhood rounds.

Remind Trick-or-Treaters that by using a flashlight they can see and be seen by others.

Stay in a group, walk slowly and communicate where you are going.

Only trick-or-treat in well known neighborhoods at homes that have a porch light on.

Remain on well-lit streets and always use the sidewalk.

If no sidewalk is available, walk at the farthest edge of the roadway facing traffic.

Never cut across yards or use alleys.

Never enter a stranger's home or car for a treat.

Obey all traffic and pedestrian regulations.

Never run across a street. Always walk.

Only cross the street as a group in established crosswalks.

Remove any mask or item that will limit eyesight before crossing a street, driveway or alley.

Don't assume the right of way. Motorists may have trouble seeing Trick-or-Treaters. Just because one car stops, doesn't mean others will.

Never consume unwrapped food items or open beverages that are not factory sealed.

No treats are to be eaten until they are thoroughly checked by an adult at home.

Law Enforcement authorities should be notified immediately of any suspicious or unlawful activity.

After Trick or Treating

Wait until children are home and in a well lighted area to sort and check treats. Though tampering is rare, a responsible adult should closely examine all treats and throw away any spoiled, unwrapped or suspicious items.

Although sharing is encouraged make sure items that can cause choking (such as hard candies) are given only to those of an appropriate age.

Don't eat it all at once! Try to apportion treats for the days following Halloween.

We Wish you a Happy and Safe Halloween

Summer Safety

Each season brings its own special problems. Simple precautions can keep you and your family safe from a serous burn injury.

Safety Tips

Test the smoke detectors in your home to make sure they're working, and be certain everyone in your family knows and practices your home fire escape plan.

Never barbecue indoors.

Use only charcoal lighter fluid. Once the coals have been ignited never add more fuel to the fire.

Never place a low sitting barbecue on a combustible deck or surface. If in a multistory apartment be aware of combustible ceilings (decks) above your barbecue. Make sure the barbecue stand is level and steady.

Keep a water container nearby when the coal is burning. Soak the coals when cooking is over to prevent re-ignition.

Do not wear loose clothing while barbecuing. Keep children safely away from the barbecue fire.

Never refuel a garden tractor or lawn mower in the garage or other structure. Always refuel outside. Refuel only when the engine is off and cool.

When camping, buy a tent made of flame-retardant fabric. A paraffin coated cotton tent can burn up in a few minutes with someone trapped inside.

Never use candles or matches or gas fueled lanterns in or near a tent. Use a flashlight.

Keep any furniture that your children can climb on away from open windows. Children can quickly climb to window ledges or sills and fall out.

Avoid heat-related illnesses by staying well hydrated and eating salty snacks. Rest often in the shade. Wear clothing that allows for evaporation (cotton is best) and wear a brimmed hat or cap.

Wear sun block to avoid serious burns.

Wear sandals or foot coverings. Severe burns to the bottom of your feet can occur from sand and tarred pavement as well as from broken glass, thorns, and other materials.

Allow radiator cap to cool before touching it. Never lean over the radiator when opening it.

When the car is hot, check the metal parts of the seatbelt before fastening, especially on infant car seats. Cover metal parts when possible and always test plastic or leather seats before placing a child into the car.

Never allow people or pets to remain in a parked vehicle during warm months. Serious, even deadly, heat injuries can occur.

Puddled hose water can be extremely hot and could cause serious burns.

Store gasoline only in approved safety cans, away from open flames (i.e. parked vehicles, water heaters, and pilot lights), and out of reach of children.

Winter Safety

Each season brings its own special problems. Simple precautions can keep you and your family safe from a serious burn injury.

Test the smoke alarms in your home to make sure they're working, and be certain everyone in your family knows and practices your home fire escape plan.

Use non-flammable holders and position candles a safe distance from your Christmas tree and other holiday decorations.

A dry tree is a serious fire hazard, so water yours often. After the holidays, dispose of the tree safely at a recycling center or with your pick-up service.

Winterize your house, barn, shed or any other structure that may provide shelter for your family, neighbors, livestock or equipment.

Repair storm shutters, doors, and windows; clear rain gutters; repair roof leaks; and check the structural ability of the roof to sustain unusually heavy weight from the accumulation of water or snow on flat roofs.

Avoid areas subject to sudden flooding.

Do not try to walk across running water more than 6 inches deep; even 6 inches of rapidly running water can sweep you off your feet.

Do not drive into flooded areas. Your car can easily stall or be swept away.

If using kerosene heaters, maintain ventilation to avoid build-up of toxic fumes. Keep heaters at least three feet from flammable objects. Refuel kerosene heaters outside.

Smoke Detectors Save Lives

The majority of fatal home fires happen at night when people are asleep. Contrary to popular belief, the smell of smoke may not wake a sleeping person. The poisonous gases and smoke produced by a fire can numb the senses and put you into a deeper sleep.

Inexpensive household smoke detectors sound an alarm, alerting you to a fire. By giving you time to escape smoke detectors cut your risk of dying in a home fire nearly in half. Smoke detectors are required in California.

Choosing a Detector

Be sure that the smoke detectors you buy carry the label of an independent testing laboratory. Several types of detectors are available. Some run on batteries, others on household current. Some detect smoke by using an "ionization" sensor, others use a "photoelectric" detection system. All approved smoke detectors, regardless of the type, will offer adequate protection provided they are installed and maintained properly.

Is One Enough?

Every home should have a smoke detector in the hallway outside each sleeping area, inside each bedroom, at the top of the stairs in two story houses, and in the basement. On floors without bedrooms, detectors should be installed in or near living areas, such as dens, living rooms, or family rooms.

Smoke detectors are not recommended for kitchens, bathrooms or garages where cooking fumes, steam, or exhaust could set off false alarms. They are not recommended for attics and other unheated spaces where humidity and temperature changes might affect a detector's operation.

Be sure everyone sleeping in your home can hear your smoke detector's alarm. There are special smoke detectors for the hearing impaired. These flash a light in addition to sounding an audible alarm.

Where to Install

Because smoke rises, mount detectors high on the wall or on the ceiling. Wall-mounted units should be mounted so that the top of the detector is 4 to 12 inches below the ceiling. A ceiling-mounted detector should be attached at least 4 inches away from the nearest wall. In a room with a pitched ceiling, mount the detector at or near the ceilings highest point.

In stairways with no doors at the top or bottom, position smoke detectors anywhere in the path of smoke moving up the stairs. But always position smoke detectors at the bottom of closed stairways, such as those leading to the basement because dead air trapped near the door at the top of a stairway could prevent smoke from reaching a detector located at the top.

Possible Installation Locations

Image of floor plan dispalying smoke detector placement

Don't install a smoke detector too near a window, door, or forced-air register where drafts could interfere with the detectors operation.

How to Install

Most battery-powered smoke detectors and detectors that plug into wall outlets can be installed using only a drill and screwdriver, by following the manufacturer's instructions. Plug in detectors must have restraining devices so that they cannot be unplugged by accident. Detectors can also be hard-wired into the building electrical system. Hard-wired detectors should be installed by a qualified electrician. Never connect a smoke detector to a circuit that can be turned off by a wall switch.

If "nuisance alarms" persist, do not disable the detector, replace the detector instead.


Only a functioning smoke detector can protect you.

Never disable a detector by "borrowing" its battery for another use.

Following manufacturer's instructions, test all your smoke detectors monthly and install new batteries at least once a year. A good reminder is when you change your clocks in the spring or fall.

Change your clock, change your battery!

Clean you smoke detectors using a vacuum cleaner without removing the detectors cover.

Never paint a smoke detector.

Smoke detectors don't last forever. Replace any smoke detector that is more than 10 years old.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recommends placing all children 12 years old and younger in the back seat. This is the safest place in the vehicle. Each child should be properly restrained using a child safety seat or safety belt, depending on his or her size. NEVER put an infant in the front seat of a vehicle equipped with a passenger side air bag.

If you have no choice but to put a child in the front seat of a vehicle equipped with air bags:

  • The seat needs to be pushed all the way back as far from the front dashboard as possible
  • The child needs to sit with his/her back against the seat back and
  • The child should be buckled securely with minimal belt slack
  • This will reduce the forward movement in a crash and maximize air bag effectiveness.
Air Bags for Short, Elderly or Pregnant Persons

ALL drivers and passengers should do the following:

  • Always buckle-up with slack at a minimum
  • Sit as far back as possible, tilting the seat slightly rearward
  • Adjust the tilt steering wheel toward the chest
  • Hold the steering wheel from the sides
  • Adjust the headrest to a higher position to minimize neck extension in the event of an accident
  • Short, pregnant or elderly vehicle occupants who follow these recommendations will maximize the lifesaving benefits of air bags and safety belts.
Why are air bags dangerous to children age 12 and under?

Air bags inflate at speeds up to 200 mph. That blast of energy can severely hurt or kill passengers and drivers who are too close to the air bag. An infant's head in a rear facing safety seat is directly in front of the air bag as it breaks through the dashboard and instantly inflates. Even some forward facing child safety seats could possibly place the child within range of the air bag before it is fully inflated. Also, if a child is unbelted, or too small for the lap and shoulder belts to fit properly, or wriggling around or leaning forward, there is a danger that the child will be too close to the dashboard during that instant that the air bag begins to inflate.

How can an air bag work so well for adults, but hurt children in the front passenger seat?

An average size adult who is correctly belted is not likely to come in contact with the air bag until it is fully inflated. A fully inflated air bag spreads the force of the crash across a wide area of the body. Even an unbelted adult will probably come in contact with the air bag at the chest area after the air bag has at least partially inflated. For greatest protection, both the driver and front passengers should be correctly belted and the seats moved back as far as practical to allow ample space for the air bag to expand. Unbelted or improperly belted children can easily slide off of the seat during pre-crash braking, throwing them against the dashboard where the air bag cans strike them on the head or neck with tremendous force before it is fully inflated. The air bag only inflates in front end crashes and collapses immediately. For protection in all types of collisions, it is very important to always use both the lap and shoulder belts.

Is it true that a passenger can be smothered by an air bag?

NO! The injuries that occur are caused by the inflating bag hitting the head and neck of an out of position passenger or the inflating bag hitting the back of an infant seat behind a baby's head. The air bag loses its air right after it inflates, so the stiff fabric does not remain over the passenger's face.