Residential Fire 

Deaths from fires and burns are the fifth most common cause of unintentional injury deaths in the United States (Center for Disease Control, Atlanta) and the third leading cause of fatal home injury. Many residential fire-related deaths remain preventable and continue to pose a significant public health problem. Smoke and toxic gases can be as deadly as heat and flames. Actually, the majority of people die or get injured in fires because of exposure to hazardous smoke and toxic gases and not actual burns. In addition, smoke often obscures vision and thereby decreases the ability of fire victims to escape.

Before a Fire

There are many things you can do to help prevent fires in your home as well as to prepare how to respond to one.

  • Create and practice a fire escape plan
  • Clear lint trap in your dryer before each laundry cycle
  • Do not leave candles unattended or in small areas in close proximity to flammable materials
  • Do not smoke indoors
  • Be aware of and replace frayed wires on old, damaged appliances
  • Exercise caution when using space heaters- keep combustible objects at least three feet away from heaters
  • Install and test smoke alarms
  • Safeguard important documents

During a Fire

  • Crawl along the floor towards the exit
  • Feel doorknobs before opening doors- if they are hot or you see smoke coming around the door, choose a different exit
  • If you do open a door, do so slowly and be ready to close it quickly if a fire is present on the other side
  • If you catch fire, stop, drop, and roll immediately

For more detailed information on how to prevent home fires, what to do in the event of a fire in your home, reference material to follow after a fire strikes, and more fire safety tips, visit FEMA's Home Fire Safety page.


There are three types of wildfires; they are identified by the method in which they spread. A ground fire burns organic matter in the soil along the forest floor under the surface litter and is sustained by glowing combustion. The most common type of wildfire is a surface fire, and it burns leaf litter, fallen branches, and other organic matter at the ground level, spreading with a flaming front. The third type is a crown fire, which burns through the top layers of foliage on trees and spreads from tree to tree. Crown fires are the most severe type of wildfire, but they are difficult to maintain. (U.S. National Park Service).