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The City of Portland, Oregon

Fire & Rescue

Always Ready, Always There

Phone: 503-823-3700

Fax: 503-823-3710

55 SW Ash Street, Portland, OR 97204

More Contact Info

Fire & Burn Prevention

Fire & Burn Prevention

Safety Messages 
1.      If your clothes catch fire, stop, drop, and roll – cool and call.

The “stop, drop, roll – cool and call” procedure should be used to extinguish flames and lessen burn injuries if your clothes catch fire.
If you clothes catch fire:

  • STOP immediately where you are
  • DROP to the ground
  • ROLL over and over and back and forth, covering your face and mouth with your hands    (this will prevent flames from burning your face and smoke from entering your lungs).  Roll over and over for a long time until the flames are extinguished.
  • COOL the burn with cool water for 10-15 minutes.
  • CALL a grown-up for help.
    Young children are sometimes confused about when to stop, drop, and roll – cool, and call.  Stress the fact that this procedure should only be used when clothing catches fire.  To avoid having clothing catch fire, teach children to stay away from ignition sources such as matches, lighters, lit candles, fireplaces, heaters, stoves, and grills.
  • The “cool a burn” action should be used any time you burn your skin, not just when your clothes catch fire.  If you get burned by touching a hot object or liquid, cool the area with cool water for 10-15 minutes and get help from a grown-up. 

2.      When the smoke alarm/alarm sounds, get out quickly and report the fire.

Fire can grow very quickly.  When the smoke alarm/alarm sounds, you need to know exactly what to do.  Every member of the household should be involved in designing a home escape plan and should know what to do in case a fire breaks out.  No one should ever go back inside a smoky or burning building except a trained firefighter.  Call the fire department from a neighbor’s house or other phone outside the home.

The following are the important elements of a home escape plan:

  • Install smoke alarms on every level of the home, and in each bedroom, if possible.  Test you smoke alarms every month.
  • Draw a floor plan of your home, including all windows and doors.
  • Locate two escape routes from each room.  The first way out would be a door and the second way out could be a window.
  • If your exit is blocked by smoke or fire, use your second exit to escape.  If you must escape through smoke, stay low and crawl on your hands and knees under the smoke to safety.  Do not crawl on your belly, because some heavier poisons will settle in a thin layer on the floor.
  • In a two-story building, plan your escape through a window and onto an adjacent roof or porch, if possible.  If you must use an escape ladder, be sure everyone knows how to secure it onto a window sill.  (Because descending the ladder presents a risk of falling, the National Fire Protection Association recommends using a window escape ladder only in an emergency, not in practice situations.
  • If you live in a high-rise building, use the stairs, never the elevator, in case of fire.  An elevator may stop at a floor where the fire is burning, or it may malfunction and trap you.
  • Grown-ups should make sure that everyone in the home can easily open all doors and windows.
  • Choose a meeting place a safe distance from the front of your home and mark it on the floor plan.  A good meeting place would be a tree, a telephone pole, or a neighbor’s home.  In case of fire, everyone should gather at the meeting place and then notify the fire department from outside the building.
  • Identify your home with large address numbers so the fire department can see it easily.
  • Practice your escape drill at least twice a year.
  • Even very young children can be taught how to report a fire or medical emergency. (In a fire emergency, leave the building immediately and call the fire department from a telephone outside the building.)  Encourage your neighbors to post the fire department or emergency number on or near every phone.
  • When you call the fire department, you will need to report the following information:
    ·        The type of emergency
    ·        Your name
    ·        Your address
    ·        The telephone number from where you are calling
  • Stay on the telephone until the fire department hangs up.  

3.      Keep safe around heat and hot liquids.

Most heating equipment fires could be prevented if everyone practiced the following rules:

  • Give heaters space.  Keep heating appliances at least 3 feet away from people and things that can burn, including paper, clothing, furniture, bedding, and walls.
  • Children should not play with or near heating units, and a grown-up should always be present when a heating unit is used.
  • Use a fireplace screen to prevent sparks or burning wood from escaping the fireplace.
  • Turn off portable heaters before leaving home, going to bed, or taking a nap.
  • Have a grown-up schedule a professional inspection of chimneys, wood stoves, and central heating systems at least once a year, and have them cleaned, if necessary.
  • Hot liquids can burn skin as badly as fire can, and they are the leading cause of injury to young children.  Have a grown up set the temperature of your hot water heater at 120°F or just below the “medium” setting.  A grown-up should closely supervise children when they are bathing or when there is a hot liquid or beverage around. 

4.      Tell a grown-up if you find matches or lighters.

Matches and lighters are for grown-ups only.  Matches and lighters can be used by grown-ups to light birthday candles, a fireplace, or a grill, but they are very dangerous for children.  Matches and lighters should always be kept up high out of the sight and reach of children, preferably in a locked cabinet.  If a child under the age of seven finds matches or lighters, he or she should tell a grown-up.  A responsible child age seven or older can be taught to give matches or lighters to a grown-up to store out of the reach of younger children.

A Special Message about Children and Fire 
Children and fire are a deadly combination, but many parents, teachers, and other adults gravely underestimate this problem.  Some children engage in fire play out of curiosity, without realizing its dangers.  Some use fire play as a bid for attention.  Children in crisis may set fires intentionally as a way of acting out their anger or frustration.  Left unchecked, children playing with fire can progress to more dangerous levels of injuries, property loss, and even death.  In fact, in 1995 more than half of arson arrestees were children under the age of 18.
Know the Facts   
Fire is a widespread tragedy in North America.  Each year, fire kills more than 4,500 people and injures tens of thousands of others in the United States.  In Canada, more than 400 people die every year and more than 2,500 people are injured.  Children are particularly vulnerable to fire. Source: National Fire Protection Association

Young children are especially vulnerable to burn-related injury and death.  They do not perceive danger, they have less control of their environment, and they have a limited ability to react promptly and properly to a burn situation.  Children’s skin is thinner than that of adults, and therefor it burns at a lower temperature and more deeply.  For example, a child exposed to hot tap water at 140°F for 3 seconds will sustain a third-degree burn, an injury requiring hospitalization and skin grafts.  Scald burns caused by tap water are associated with more deaths and injuries to young children than those caused by other hot liquids.  Burns resulting from exposure to tap water tend to be more severe and to cover a larger portion of the body. Source: National SAFE KIDS Campaign