Safety - Home and Family
Fire Prevention & Safety
Fire and Rescue understands the best way to fight fires and reduce injuries is by preventing them in the first place.
- By educating yourself on potential fire hazards in your home, you can take the first step to protecting your family from a destructive fire.
- You can also protect yourself by installing working smoke alarms and other fire safety devices.
View fire protection and life safety tips by selecting the tabs below on these topics:
Home Fire Safety Survey
“Keep Kids Safe” Child Safety Seat Program
Holiday Fire Safety - Christmas and Passover
Using Candles Safely
Winter Fire Safety
- Home Fire Safety Survey
- Child Safety Seats
- Grill-BBQ-Turkey Fryer
- Using Candles Safely
- Winter Fire Safety
- House numbers are clearly displayed and visible from the street in accordance with the Frederick County Addressing Ordinance.
- Trim trees away from electrical wires.
- Keep trash to a minimum.
- Make sure emergency personnel can access every room in you home.
Heating Equipment & Fireplace
- Keep space heaters at least 3 feet away from all combustibles.
- Replace furnace filters regularly.
- Clean lint from behind clothes dryer.
- Install a spark screen in front of the fireplace.
- Have chimney inspected and cleaned annually.
- Dispose of ashes in metal containers away from your home.
- Keep newspapers, clothes, clutter, and other combustibles away from the furnace and water heater.
- Avoid overloading electrical circuits and outlets.
- Inspect electrical cords and appliances for damage.
- Do not tack cords to the wall or run them under rugs.
- Maintain air space around electrical equipment such as TV’s, VCR, stereo, etc.
- Install additional outlets by a qualified electrician to avoid using multiple plug adapters and extension cords.
- If you use extension cords, make sure they are listed and are of the proper size for the equipment being used.
Flammable Liquids & Hazardous Materials
- Limit the amount of chemicals stored.
- Dispose of and recycle household hazardous materials properly.
- Store hazardous materials in proper containers with tight-fitting lids and correct identification labels.
- Store hazardous materials away from heat sources.
- Allow for proper ventilation when using flammable liquids and hazardous materials.
- Put oily rags in metal containers with tight-fitting lids, not in a pile where they can spontaneously ignite.
- Never leave cooking unattended.
- Cuff sleeves and turn pot handles inward when cooking to avoid burn injuries.
- Never store combustibles in oven or on top of the stove.
- When barbecuing, move unit away from the home.
- Dispose of coals / ashes in metal containers and away from the home.
Smoking Materials & Candles
- Never leave cigarettes or candles unattended.
- Purchase and use ashtrays that have the center support feature.
- Empty ashtrays into noncombustible containers only.
- Never smoke in bed.
- Place candles in noncombustible, sturdy holders.
- Keep matches and lighters out of reach of children.
- Install smoke alarms inside and outside every sleeping area and on every level of your home.
- Test smoke alarms once a month.
- Unless you have an extended life / sealed battery, replace batteries in all smoke alarms when you change the time on your clocks twice a year.
- Replace smoke alarms every 10 years.
- Purchase a multipurpose (ABC) fire extinguisher.
- Teach your family how to use a fire extinguisher (Use "PASS" - Pull the Pin, Aim, Squeeze, Sweep)
- Inspect extinguishers annually.
Develop & Practice a Home Escape Plan
- Develop a home escape plan that includes:
- Crawling low under smoke
- Two exits out of your home
- A meeting place outside
- Practice escape plan at least every 6 months with every member.
- Teach all family members how to:
- Dial 911 in an emergency.
- Stop, Drop and Roll if clothes catch fire.
Is Your Family Riding in a Safe Manner?
Protecting children in cars requires a long-term commitment. Field experience during child safety seat checkpoints show that 9 out of 10 child safety seats are not being used or installed correctly.
Children progress through the use of infant seats, toddler seats and finally booster seats before they are of the proper age, height, and weight to wear the vehicle safety belt. Generally, the adult safety belt does not properly fit people shorter than 4’9" or under 80 to 100 pounds.
Parents routinely protect their children through the use of car seats, but many parents do not use booster seats. Parents of booster age children (generally 4-8 years of age) skip the use of a booster seat and move their child to the adult safety belt too soon. Booster seats help position the adult safety belt properly on the child’s shoulders and hips providing a safer and more comfortable ride. Make sure your child safety seat is installed correctly!
To learn more about the Safe Kids Frederick County program, visit https://health.frederickcountymd.gov/SafeKids.
To learn more about car seat assistance programs and inspections offered by Kids in Safety Seats (KISS), a state-wide program funded through the Maryland Highway Safety Office, visit
General Safety Tips
- Keep children and pets away from the grill area.
- Keep your grill clean by removing grease or fat buildup from the grills and in trays below the grill.
- Never leave your grill unattended.
- Only use propane and charcoal grills outdoors.
- Place the grill well away from the home, deck railings, and out from under eaves and overhanging branches.
Remember: If you live in an apartment or condominium style building, grilling must be done at least 15 feet from any portion of the building. Grilling on balconies is illegal. Storing your grill on your balcony is illegal.
- Follow the general safety tips above.
- If you use a starter fluid, use only charcoal starter fluid. Never add charcoal fluid or any other flammable liquids to the fire.
- Keep charcoal fluid out of the reach of children and away from heat sources.
- Never place coals in a trash container or bag. Coals can remain hot enough to start a fire long after you have finished cooking.
- There are electric charcoal starters, which do not use fire. Be sure to use an extension cord for outdoor use.
- There are several ways to get the charcoal ready to use. Charcoal chimney starters allow you to start the charcoal using newspaper as a fuel.
- Check for leaks before using the grill for the first time each year and after replacing the tank.
- Follow the general safety tips above.
- If you smell gas while cooking, immediately turn off the gas and get away from the grill.
Turkey Fryer Safety
Don’t let your turkey, or you home go up in flames!
Click here to view the Safety Video from Frederick County.
According to insurance company statistics, grease and cooking-related claims more than double on Thanksgiving Day. According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), deep fryer fires cause an average of 5 deaths, 60 injuries, and more than $15 million in property damage each year.
Please use these basic safety principles when using turkey fryers:
- Don’t Overfill Your Pot With Oil - If the cooking pot is overfilled, the oil may spill out of the pot when the turkey is lowered in. Oil can hit the burner and cause a significant fire. Follow the owner’s manual and make sure the oil level is at the proper level.
- Don’t Drop a Frozen or Partially Thawed Turkey Into the Oil - Frozen or partially frozen turkey placed into the fryer can cause the oil to spill over the pot and may result in a significant fire or burn injury. Do not use water to thaw your turkey. Make sure your turkey is properly thawed and slowly lower it into the pot to prevent the oil from splashing.
- Don’t Place Your Turkey Fryer Close to Structures or On Decks - Often, fires involving a fryer start in a garage or on a patio or deck. Cook outdoors and on a level, firm, and non-combustible surface. Maintain a safe distance from any buildings and keep the fryer off of any wooden structures.
- Don’t Use Water or Ice - When ice or water comes into contact with hot oil, the water vaporizes, causing steam bubbles to pop and spray hot oil. Do not use ice or water to cool down oil or extinguish an oil fire. Keep an extinguisher approved for cooking or grease fires nearby and immediately call 911 for help.
- Don’t Leave Your Fryer Unattended - Frying involves cooking with a combustible cooking oil or grease. Many frying units do not have thermostat controls and if left unwatched, the oil will continue to heat until the oil ignites.
- Don’t Use Your Fryer on an Unlevel Surface - Many fryers are very top-heavy and can be unstable if not used on a level surface. Fryers that are used on an unlevel surface can tip over causing a significant fire or burn injury.
Holiday Fire Safety
More than 4,000 Americans die each year in fires and more than 20,000 are injured. Many of them might be alive today if they had only had the information they needed to avoid a disaster.
Did You Know?
- 82% of all fire deaths occur in the home.
- Having a working smoke alarm reduces ones chance of dying in a fire by nearly a half.
- Most holiday fires can easily be prevented.
- There are an estimated 200 fires and 25 injuries resulting from Christmas tree fires each year.
Holiday Fire Safety Life-Saving Tips
- Install a smoke alarm on every level of your home. Test smoke alarm batteries every month and change them at least twice a year when you change your clocks. Consider installing a 10-year lithium battery-powered smoke alarm, which is sealed so it cannot be tampered with or opened.
- Avoid using lit candles. If you do use them, make sure they are in stable holders and place them where they can not be easily knocked over.
- Do not leave lit holiday lights unattended.
- Do not overload outlets. Connect strings of lights to an extension cord before plugging the cord into the outlet.
- Do not place your tree close to a heat source, including fireplace or heat vent. The heat will dry out the tree and cause it to more easily ignited by heat, flame or sparks.
- Inspect holiday lights each year for frayed wire, bare spots, gaps in the insulation, broken or cracked sockets, and excessive kinking or wear.
- Never leave the house with candles burning.
- Never put Christmas tree branches or needles in a fireplace or wood burning stove.
- Use only lighting evaluated by a nationally recognized laboratory such as Underwriters Laboratories (UL).
- When the tree becomes dry, discard it promptly. The best way to dispose of your tree is to take it to a recycling center or have it collected by a community pick-up service.
Christmas Tree Safety
While the holidays are a special time of year, it is also important to take the appropriate safety measures.
Click here for more information regarding Christmas Tree safety.
Passover Safety Message
Passover is a time of family gatherings with special foods, songs, and customs. The Frederick County Division of Fire and Rescue Services encourages you to keep these important safety guidelines in mind during your time of celebration:
Bedikat Chametz (Searching for Chametz)
- Keep candles away from flammable objects; be especially careful near curtains, tablecloths, beds and sofas as these types of items are easily ignitable.
- Supervise children, closely, at all times.
- Do not leave candles unattended; make sure to extinguish them when you are finished.
- Use a designated area, clear of combustibles and located at least 25 ft. from any structures.
- Use extreme caution when lighting a fire and never use any type of accelerant to increase the flame. At a 2004, bread burning ceremony in New York, an explosion occurred when an accelerant was used resulting in 4 persons being burned.
- A competent person (adult) shall constantly attend to recreational fires, never leaving them unattended; and always make sure children are supervised.
- You must have a fire extinguisher or a garden hose connected to a water supply, readily available, to extinguish the fire, if necessary.
- Keep your fire small. The Fire Code requires that burning material in recreational fires not exceed 3 ft. in diameter or 2 ft. in height.
- Hot ashes from a recreational fire can remain hot for hours and even days. To eliminate this, when finished burning, be sure to thoroughly soak the area with copious amounts of water, stir the ashes with a shovel and reapply water as necessary, until the fire is fully extinguished.
Preparing for Seder
- Maintain a “kid-free, safety zone” of at least 3 ft. from all cooking appliances and insure good stove top practices. Many burns have occurred as a result of children playing near cooking appliances or grabbing pot handles causing them to overturn.
- Maintain a safe work area, around heated appliances, that is free of combustibles.
- Avoid distractions and never leave your cooking unattended. The leading cause of kitchen fires is unattended cooking.
- Keep a pot lid close by in case you have a small fire. Turn off the heat source and use the lid to smother the fire if possible. If not, dial 911. Make sure everyone gets out of the house and close the door behind you. Never use water on a cooking fire; it will splash and can cause the fire to spread.
- Make sure that all appliances have been turned off when you are finished cooking. Just last year tragedy struck the Flatbush community in New York when 7 children died in a fire believed to have been caused by an electric hot plate that had been left on after the family went to bed.
MAKE SURE YOU HAVE WORKING SMOKE ALARMS IN YOUR HOME!
Candles may look pretty and smell nice, but they are a leading cause of home fires and home-fire deaths. Remember, candles can readily ignite anything that can burn.
- On average a candle fire in the home is reported to a Fire Department every 30 minutes.
- Roughly 2/5 of candle fires originate in the bedroom.
- More than half of all candle fires occur when the candle ignites materials that are too close to it.
If You Do Burn Candles
Make sure that you take the following precautions:
- Avoid using candles in the bedroom or in other areas where people may fall asleep.
- Blow out all candles when you leave the room or go to bed.
- Have flashlights and battery-powered lighting readily available for use during a power outage. Never use candles.
- Keep candles at least 12 inches from anything that can burn.
- Light candles safely. Keep you hair and clothing away from the flame.
- Never use a candle if oxygen is used in the home.
- Use sturdy candle holders that will not tip over easily. Place candle holders on a sturdy, uncluttered space.
The Frederick County Fire and Rescue Services encourages residents to use the following safety tips to prevent fires and keep loved ones safe.
Wood Stoves, Fireplaces & Fireplace Ashes
- Hot coals, hidden in a pile of ashes and thus well insulated, can stay hot for up to 4 days! Never empty ashes into a paper or plastic bag, cardboard box, or other similar container.
- To discard of hot ashes: Do allow ashes to cool (4 days) before removing from fire place, moisten the ashes and then place them in a metal container, with a tight-fitting lid, outside and well away from the house (at least 20 feet away from the home and combustibles).
- Be sure the stove or fireplace is installed properly by a professional. Wood stoves should have adequate clearance (36”) from combustible surfaces, and proper floor support and protection.
- Wood stoves should be Underwriters Laboratories Inc.
- Have the chimney inspected annually and cleaned if necessary, especially if it has not been used for some time.
- Do not use flammable liquids to start or accelerate any fire.
- Keep a glass or metal screen in front of the fireplace opening, to prevent embers or sparks from igniting combustibles outside the fireplace, unwanted material from going in, and help prevent the possibility of burns to occupants.
- Don’t use excessive amounts of paper to build roaring fires in fireplaces. It is possible to ignite creosote in the chimney by overbuilding the fire.
- Never burn charcoal indoors. Burning charcoal can give off lethal amounts of carbon monoxide.
- Keep flammable materials away from your mantel. A spark from the fireplace could easily ignite these materials.
- Before you go to sleep, be sure your fireplace fire is out. NEVER close your damper with hot ashes in the fireplace. A closed damper will help the fire to heat up again and will force toxic carbon monoxide into the house.
- If synthetic logs are used, follow the directions on the package.
- Space heaters need space. Portable space heaters need a 3-foot clearance from anything that can burn - including clothing.
- When buying heaters, look for devices that are UL (Underwriters Laboratory) listed with automatic shutoff features that shut the unit off if it is tipped over.
- Never use a fuel burning (kerosene, propane) type of heater in the home because of the deadly carbon monoxide gas those appliances produce.
- Turn them off when you go to bed or leave the room.
- Plug power cords directly into outlets and never into an extension cord.
- Be sure your heating system is in good working condition. Have a licensed representative inspect and service all parts of your furnace and exhaust parts for carbon build-up.
- Be sure all furnace controls and emergency shutoffs are in proper working condition. 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.
- Check the flue pipes and pipe seams. Are they well supported? Free of holes, and cracks? Soot along or around seams may be an indicator of a leak.
- Is the chimney solid? No cracks or loose bricks? All unused flue openings should be sealed with solid masonry.
- Keep trash and other combustibles away from the heating system (at least 36 inch clearance all the way around the appliance).
Other Fire Safety Tips
- Never use a range or an oven as a supplementary heating devise. Not only is it a safety hazard, it can be a source of potentially toxic fumes.
- Avoid using electric space heaters in bathrooms, or other areas where they may come in contact with water.
- Frozen water pipes? Never try to thaw them with a blow torch or other open flame, (otherwise the pipe could conduct the heat and ignite the wall structure inside the wall space). Use hot water or a UL labeled device such as a hand held dryer for thawing.
- If there is a fire hydrant near your home you can assist the Fire Department by keeping the hydrant clear of snow so in the event it is needed, it can be located.
- Be sure every level of your home has a working smoke alarm, and be sure to test and clean it on a monthly basis.
- Have a home escape plan in case of fire! Make sure you practice the plan so that everyone in the home knows what to do!
- Have a carbon monoxide alarm if you have gas / fuel appliances in your home or your garage is attached to your home.