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Safety Tips

  • Many home fire-related fatalities and injuries are preventable.

  • BBQ/Grilling Safety

    Grilling safety tips 

    • Only use grills outdoors, away from siding and deck railings.
    • Clean grills often and remove grease or fat build-up.
    • Make sure your gas grill lid is open before lighting.
    • Have a three foot safe-zone around grills and campfires. Keep kids and pets clear of the area.
    • Dispose of coals after they have cooled in a metal can.
    • Never leave grills, fire pits and patio torches unattended. 

     Grilling at apartment complexes

    • Local fire code prohibits the use of charcoal or propane barbecues on apartment balconies or porches, unless the area is protected by a fire sprinkler system or all adjacent surfaces are non-combustible.
    • An exception to this requirement is electric or hibachi-style barbecues that use 1-pound propane cylinders. These are allowed when kept well away from combustible building surfaces and are unplugged, or the cylinder removed, when not in use.
    • Larger propane barbeques and those using briquettes may be used if they are on ground level, at least 10 feet away from combustible materials, are attended to by an adult at all times, are fully extinguished and cooled prior to moving back to their storage area, and the propane bottle is disconnected for storage.
    • Check with your apartment manager to learn about rules specific to your building.

    Read more about fire pits and backyard burning.

    Defensible Space

    Defensible space is the buffer you create between your business or home and the grass, trees, shrubs or any wildland area that surrounds it. Good defensible space can slow or stop the spread of wildfire and help protect your home or business.

    Defensible space best practices

    • Trees and vegetation should be 10 feet from power lines, buildings, chimneys and other trees.
    • Remove limbs up to six feet from trees and vegetation more than 18 feet tall.
    • Remove limbs up to 1/3 the height of trees and vegetation less than 18 feet tall.

    Homeowner checklist

    Oregon Defensible Space website

    For a defensible space assessment, call the Oregon State Fire Marshal's office at 503-934-0874.

    Fire Safety for Kids

    Children are often curious about fire. Adults can help keep children safe from fire.

    • Teach children in your household the basics of fire safety.
    • Increase supervision for children fascinated with fire.
    • Set firm rules that children are to tell an adult if they find matches and lighters.
    • Model fire-safe behavior for your children.
    • Eliminate a child’s access to matches and lighters. Lighters are especially attractive to young children because of the bright colors, the ease they can be held in small hands and the sparks they emit.
    • If you smoke, use only child-resistant lighters. But remember that no lighter is child-proof, so keep it on you at all times.
    • Teach children that matches and lighters are tools for adults, not toys.

    If your child is between the ages of 3 and 17 and has started a fire, been involved in fire-play or shown a significant interest in fire, call 503-618-2355 for assistance.

    Fireworks Safety

    Every year fireworks ignite hundreds of fires in Oregon. Fires on roofs, in shrubs and bark dust and on decks are common and can cause damage to your home and injury to your family.

    What's illegal in Oregon

    • Fireworks that fly into the air, explode, act unpredictably or move more than 12 feet on the ground.
    • Firecrackers, bottle rockets and roman candles..
    • If the firework makes a loud boom, it's probably an illegal firework.
    • If it goes airborne, spins around or acts erratically, it’s likely illegal.

    Illegal fireworks and explosives are not allowed in any City park or open space.

    Possession of illegal fireworks is a Class B misdemeanor and carries a $1,500 fine.

    It’s against the law to make or modify fireworks in Oregon. 

    Fireworks safety tips

    • Use only legal fireworks.  
    • Use fireworks only in legal places (fireworks are prohibited on beaches, state and national parks and state and federal forest land).
    • Store fireworks out of children’s reach.
    • Keep pets indoors.
    • Always have a garden hose or a bucket of water on hand.
    • Never re-light a “dud” firework; wait 10-15 minutes, then soak in a bucket of water.
    • Discard firework debris in a non-combustible container.
    • Talk to friends and neighbors about celebrating without fireworks. Have a picnic or play volleyball, then go to a public fireworks show together.
    Home Fire Escape Plan

    Printable home fire escape plan

    Plan and practice a home escape plan so you have two safe ways out from every room in your home and a meeting place outside.

    Escape plan

    • Create a room-by-room layout with all emergency exits clearly marked.
    • Be sure there is more than one exit from every room to avoid being trapped by fire.
    • If your home has security bars or locks on windows and doors, be sure each family member can open them quickly. 
    • Upper floors should be equipped with escape ladders.

    Decide on a meeting place outside the home. Suggestions include by a tree or a mailbox that's a safe distance from your home, preferably on or near the street where firefighters would arrive. Stay there until help arrives. Do not return into the home to retrieve pets or other valuables. 


    • Be sure all family members know what to do and where to go in an emergency.
    • Fire and smoke can cause disorientation.
    • Your family must know how to get out of the house in the dark under hot, smokey and stressful conditions without panicking or losing time.

    Extra help

    Small children and people who are elderly or disabled will need special attention and may require assistance to evacuate the home. Include their requirements when making your plan.

    Medical Emergency Refrigerator Card

    Every second counts when you need help. Providing easy access to your medical information can make all the difference. But how can you provide medical information if you are unconscious or can't communicate?

    Medical emergency refrigerator card

    Provides responders with valuable information concerning your health and past medical history. 

    The form should:

    • Be shared with your health care provider so the information is accurate
    • Updated when starting or stopping medication
    • Updated if there are changes in your health status

    For a printed version of this document, call 503-618-2355 or visit your local fire station.

    Smoke Alarms

    Call 503-618-2355 if you own your home and are either low income and/or elderly and do not have a smoke alarm, need replacement batteries or do not have a carbon monoxide alarm.

    • Install smoke alarms inside every sleeping area and on each floor of your home.
    • Never disconnect alarms or remove batteries.
    • Test and maintain your smoke alarms monthly.
    • Landlords are required to provide renters with smoke alarms.

    Smoke alarm tip sheet

    Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm Program

    Studies confirm the chance of dying from the fire is reduced by half when working smoke alarms are present.

    • Install smoke alarms with a 10-year battery on every level of your home, outside each sleeping area and in every bedroom.
    • Alarms should never be disconnected and batteries should never be removed.
    • Test and maintain your smoke alarms monthly.
    • Landlords are responsible for providing smoke alarms for renters.

    If you own your home and are low income or elderly, and don't have a smoke alarm, need replacement batteries or don't have a carbon monoxide alarm, call 503-618-2355.

    Water Safety

    Swimming, boating and other activities in and around water are a great way to cool off in hot weather. Unfortunately, drowning claims the lives of many people every year.

    Stay safe around water

    • Never swim alone – use the buddy system.
    • Don't use alcohol and drugs, which impair judgment, balance, coordination and swimming abilities, plus reduce the body's ability to stay warm.
    • Watch for the dangerous "toos" – too tired, too cold, too far from safety, too much sun, too much activity. Take frequent breaks.
    • Always supervise children.
    • Young children should always wear a Coast Guard-approved life jacket (pillow and handle-type). Adults should wear an approved life jacket when boating or fishing.
    • Know that drowning can happen quickly and silently.
    • Be aware of currents, changing waves and undertows.
    • Know your swimming limits. Keep an eye on weaker swimmers.
    • Don't dive in shallow water or in unfamiliar areas.
    • Have a cell phone in case of an emergency.
    • Follow posted notices about water safety and the use of swimming beaches.
    • Learn how to swim from a certified instructor.

    If you hear or see someone in trouble

    • Call 911 immediately – time is critical; a distressed swimmer needs help immediately.
    • Throw the victim a flotation device, but don't get into the water if you're not already in it. You may become a victim yourself. 
    • Use landmarks to determine where you last saw the victim and where you are standing so you can take rescue crews back to the site. 
    • Take notice of the victim's clothing.  
    • Encourage other bystanders to stay on the scene. 
    • Enroll in water safety, first aid and CPR courses.

    Red Cross water safety tips