Safety Tips

Fire Safety

Residents can do many things to increase the fire safety readiness of their homes. These include:

  • Regularly Check Smoke Alarms - take advantage of NOFD's Free Smoke Dectector Installation Program and have fire fighters install working smoke detectors in homes
  • Don't Overload Circuits - do not place cords and wires under rugs or in high traffic areas. Have outlets that sputter or emit an odor professionally repaired or replaced.
  • Follow Manufacturer's Directions - Overheating, unusual smells, shorts and sparks are all warning signs that appliances need to be shut off, then replaced or repaired.
  • Use Safety Caps - cover unused outlets, especially if there are small children in the home
  • Practice Generator Safety - Keep anything combustible at least three feet away.
  • Have a Fire Escape Plan - Practice an escape plan from every room of the home or business. Ensure family members of all ages have an emergency phone number and alternate meeting spot memorized. Download a kid-friendly guide to making a home fire escape plan.

Cold Weather Fire Safety

With the spate of winter weather we’ll be experience over the next couple of days, the New Orleans Fire Department would like to remind all citizens not to compromise their safety in an effort to keep warm.  Below is a list of Winter Fire Safety Tips to keep in mind:

Smoke Alarms

  • Best level of protection install in every bedroom and every bedroom hallway on every floor.
  • Minimum protection installs smoke alarms outside bedrooms and on every floor.
  • DO NOT install smoke alarms in the kitchen or bathroom.
  • Test the batteries monthly.
  • Keep smoke alarms away from air vents.
  • Place smoke alarms at least 4 to 6 inches away from walls and corners.

Alternative Heaters

  • Use heaters only in well ventilated rooms.
  • Place heaters where they will not be knocked over easily.
  • Do not use heaters to dry clothing or other items.
  • Keep heaters at a safe distance from curtains, furniture and all combustibles.
  • Don’t leave children alone with space heaters on.  An adult should always be present when a space heater is in use.

Hazards Associated with Unvented Heaters

  • Depletion of oxygen from the room resulting in death.
  • Clothing or close combustibles catching on fire when close to flames.
  • Air pollution such as carbon monoxide whenever fuel is incompletely burned.

Electric Space Heaters

  • Plug heaters directly into the wall socket, and not into extension cords.
  • Check the cords on electric heaters before using. If the cord is frayed or splitting, discord the heater.
  • Any repairs to heaters should be only be performed by a qualified licensed appliance repair person.
  • Keep anything that may burn at least 3 feet away from the heater.
  • Never allow children to play with, or around, the heater.
  • Never place anything inside the grill on the front of the heater.
  • Unplug heater when they’re not being used.

Heating Sources

  • Once a year have your heating sources checked by a licensed mechanical contractor.
  • Floor furnaces should be cleaned and vacuumed prior to usage and should be checked for proper ventilation.
  • Make sure floor furnaces are clear of all coverings.
  • All gas heating sources should put out a clear blue flame, if you see a primarily orange or yellowish flame; have it checked by a professional.
  • All heating sources should be checked annually.
  • All gas heating sources must also be properly ventilated. Keeping a window slightly opened can circulate fresh air and reduce carbon monoxide buildups in tightly sealed houses.
  • Never! Use a stove or oven to heat the home.  This causes a buildup of deadly carbon monoxide gas in the home.


  • Before you light candles put them in a non-tip candle holder.
  • Never burn candles near combustible decorations or displays.
  • Keep candles well away from curtains and other combustibles, and never put candles in windows or near exits.
  • Don't leave candles burning unattended or within the reach of small children.
  • Extinguish candles before you leave a room, go to bed, or leave home.

Woodstoves and Fireplaces

  • Uses only seasoned wood, never use green wood, plastic artificial logs, paper or trash.
  • Make sure the chimney flue is open before the fireplace is used.
  • Always use a protective screen.
  • Clean interiors, hearths and chimneys yearly.
  • Have your chimney inspected by a professional at least once a year and have it cleaned if necessary.
  • Remove ashes in a metal container.
  • Because they may rekindle, never store ashes in your home.


  • Generators should be used in well ventilated locations outside away from all doors, windows and vent openings.
  • Never use a generator in an attached garage, even with the door open.
  • Place generators so that exhaust fumes can’t enter the home through windows, doors or other openings in the building.
  • Make sure to install carbon monoxide (CO) alarms in your home. Follow manufacturer’s instructions for correct placement and mounting height. Turn off generators and let them cool down before refueling. Never refuel a generator while it is running.
  • Store fuel for the generator in a container intended for the purpose and is correctly labeled as such. Store the containers outside of living areas.
  • When plugging in appliances, make sure they are plugged directly into the generator or a heavy duty outdoor-rated extension cord.
  • If you must connect the generator to the house wiring to power appliances, have a qualified electrician install a properly rated transfer switch in accordance with the National Electrical Code® (NEC) and all applicable state and local electrical codes.

Carbon Monoxide Detectors

  • Install carbon monoxide (CO) detectors near bedroom areas and family rooms, for extra protection; place one about fifteen feet away from your home’s heat source.
  • DO NOT install them near air vents or fans.
  • Test your CO Detector each week by pressing the test/silence button to make sure that the alarm sounds.
  • Keep your CO detectors dust free by vacuuming air vents regularly.

Grilling Safety

There’s nothing like outdoor grilling. It’s one of the most popular ways to cook food. But, a grill placed too close to anything that can burn is a fire hazard. They can be very hot, causing burn injuries. Follow these simple tips and you will be on the way to safe grilling.

  • Propane and charcoal BBQ grills should only be used outdoors.
  • The grill should be placed well away from the home, deck railings and out from under eaves and overhanging branches.
  • Keep children and pets at least three feet 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.
  • Always make sure your gas grill lid is open before lighting it.

Charcoal Grills

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • There are also electric charcoal starters, which do not use fire. Be sure to use an extension cord for outdoor use.
  • When you are finished grilling, let the coals completely cool before disposing in a metal container

Propane Grills

Check the gas tank hose for leaks before using it for the first time each year. Apply a light soap and water solution to the hose. A propane leak will release bubbles. If your grill has a gas leak, by smell or the soapy bubble test, and there is no flame, turn off both the gas tank and the grill. If the leak stops, get the grill serviced by a professional before using it again. If the leak does not stop, call the fire department. If you smell gas while cooking, immediately get away from the grill and call the fire department. Do not move the grill.

If the flame goes out, turn the grill and gas off and wait at least 5 minutes before re-lighting it.

Download the Grill Safety Guide

Fireworks Safety

Fireworks during the Fourth of July are as American as apple-pie, but did you know that more fires are reported on that day than on any other day of the year in the United States? Nearly half of these fires are caused by fireworks. The good news is you can enjoy your holiday and the fireworks, with just a few simple safety tips:

  • Leave fireworks to the professionals. Do not use consumer fireworks.
  • The safest way to enjoy fireworks is to attend a public display conducted by trained professionals.
  • After the firework display, children should never pick up fireworks that may be left over, they may still be active.

Consumer fireworks include sparklers and firecrackers. The tip of a sparkler burns at a temperature of more than 1,200 degrees Fahrenheit, which is hot enough to cause third-degree burns.

Holiday Safety

As you celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanza and New Year’s, remember many devastating fires have occurred in the metro area from holiday related activities.  Decorative lights, candles, parties where people drink and smoke, and most of all, the onset of the heating season, all increase the likelihood of a fire.  In keeping with this we have put together safety tips for all Metro New Orleanians to observe:

Christmas Tree Safety

  • Christmas trees should be fresh, not dry. Lack of moisture in the tree increases its combustibility, so water the tree regularly.
  • When purchasing a fresh flocked tree ask the sales person if the tree has been treated with an approved flame-retardant flocking material, or ask where you may purchase the flame-retardant flocking material and treat the tree yourself.
  • Place the tree at a safe distance from heat sources such as room heaters or fireplaces.   Also, locate the tree so that it will not obstruct the path of exit in case of a fire.
  • Use only "approved" lighting strings, that is, only those lights which have been tested and labeled by a nationally recognized product testing laboratory, such as Underwriters Laboratories.
  • Replace all Christmas tree lights that have "frayed" or broken wires, loose connections, or cracked plugs.
  • Unplug the tree lights whenever you leave home or go to bed.
  • Do not "overload" extension cords or electrical outlets, and do not place electrical cords under rugs or locations where the cord can be damaged. Always use an extension cord that has a three (3) pronged plug (which is an extension cord with a ground wire) that is approved by Underwriters Laboratory (UL) for outdoor use.
  • Never hang electrical lights from a metallic tree as damaged insulation in the light string can electrically charge the tree, possibly causing shock or fire.
  • Do not use candles or any other open flame on or near tree.
  • Never burn Christmas trees in fireplaces because the flames can flare out of control and send sparks flying into the room.
  • After the Christmas holidays, remove the tree from inside your home as soon as possible, placing the tree a safe distance from the house for garbage collection.

Outdoor lighting to decorate your home

  • Use a "dry, wooden or fiberglass ladder" when hanging holiday lights to reduce the chance of electrical shock, and stay clear of all overhead electrical wires.
  • Use "insulated staples that are hammered in, rather than staple guns," again, to reduce the chance of electrical shock and fire due to damaged wire insulation.
  • Water proof all electrical connections and keep them elevated so rain water will not drain into the connection which could cause shock or a short circuit.
  • Avoid standing in water while handling electrical wiring or when using electrical power tools.
  • Shut-off electrical power when replacing bulbs and keep the electricity off while putting up outdoor holiday lighting.
  • And, never allow the bulbs to touch combustible materials, such as wood, plastics, leaves, grass or pine needles.

Turkey Fryer Safety

A longtime food favorite in New Orleans, the delicious deep-fried turkey has quickly grown in popularity thanks to celebrity chefs such as Frank Davis, Emeril Lagasse and Martha Stewart. However, heating up several gallons of oil to 350 degrees on a larger propane burner and then placing a turkey in the hot oil is inherently dangerous. Therefore, if you are going to do this we want you to be safe, so please follow these safety tips when preparing this holiday delicacy.

Here's why using a deep-fryer can be dangerous:

  • Many units easily tip over, spilling the hot oil within the cooking pot.
  • If the cooking pot is overfilled with oil, the oil will spill over when the turkey is placed in. When the oil hits the hot burner or flames it will cause a fire that will engulf the entire unit, which can cause catastrophic injury to anyone nearby.
  • Partially frozen turkeys placed into the fryer can cause a spillover effect. This too, will result in an extensive fire.
  • With no thermostatic controls, burners have the potential to overheat the oil to the point of “auto ignition” temperature, which is when the oil will spontaneously ignite without coming in contact with a flame.
  • The pot’s sides, lid and handles will get dangerously hot, posing severe burn hazards.

If you absolutely must use a turkey fryer, here are some tips to do it safely:

  • Turkey fryers should always be used outdoors a  safe distance (minimum of 10 feet) away from buildings and any other material that can burn.
  • Consider using an electric fryer. Electric turkey fryers are much safer and they eliminate the risk of grease spilling into an open flame.
  • Never use turkey fryers on wooden decks, in garages or any other covered space.
  •  Always read and follow the manufacturer’s instructions for the frying unit.
  • Place the fryer on a flat non-combustible surface to reduce accidental tipping.
  • Never leave the fryer unattended.
  • Do not let anyone walk between the burner and the propane tank as the hose poses a tripping hazard that can cause the pot of oil to tip over.
  • Always use a thermometer and do not let the temperature of the oil exceed 350 degrees.
  • Most units do not have thermostatic controls. Carefully watch the temperature or the oil will continue to heat until it catches fire.
  • Never let children or pets near the fryer when in use.
  • Even after use, never allow children or pets near the turkey fryer. The oil can remain dangerously hot for many hours after use.
  • To avoid oil spillover, do not overfill the fryer. Do not use too large of a turkey to avoid spillover.
  • If you do not know how much oil to use, you can determine this by; placing the turkey in the empty pot and adding water until it just covers the turkey by about ½”. Then remove and dry the turkey. Measure the amount of water left in the pot. Pour the water out and dry the inside of the pot. Use an equivalent amount of oil to fry your turkey.
  • As stated earlier, always follow the manufacturer’s recommendation. For most frying units about a 15 lb turkey is the largest size.
  • Use well-insulated potholders or oven mitts when touching pot or lid handles.
  • Wear safety goggles to protect your eyes from splattering oil.
  • Always make sure the turkey is completely thawed and dried.
  • Be sure to double check the inside of the turkey for hidden ice and be careful with liquid marinades. Oil and water don't mix.
  • Water or ice will cause oil to boil over and a fire or even an explosion hazard.
  • The National Turkey Federation recommends refrigerator thawing and to allow approximately 24 hours for every five pounds of bird thawed in the refrigerator.
  • Keep an all-purpose fire extinguisher nearby. Never use water to extinguish a grease fire.
  • In the event of an emergency immediately call 9-1-1 for help.

General Cooking Safety

We would like to remind our citizens to be safe with all your holiday cooking:

  • Don’t leave pots unattended
  • Keep oven mitts and towels a safe distance away from open flames.
  • Have pan lids available to smother grease fires.
  • Always have a fire extinguisher available in your kitchen.
  • In the case of a fire call the fire department first, even if you make an attempt to put the fire out on your own.
  • Make sure all smoke detectors in the home are working

Mardi Gras Safety

Below are a few safety tips we would like to share to ensure a safer Mardi Gras season for all:

  • The New Orleans Fire Department advises residents and visitors against parking in intersections or blocking fire hydrants.
  • Do not obstruct fire hydrants in any manner.
  • Do not park your vehicle in an intersection or in the street, even if the parade has that street blocked.
  • Do not place any items such as ladders, chairs, grills etc. in intersections or between curbs of public streets during the parade.
  • Drivers should be prepared to move out of the way of approaching fire apparatus or other emergency vehicles.
  • As always, pull as far as possible to the right of the roadway when an emergency vehicle is attempting to pass.  Come to a complete stop when it is safe to do so.
  • Property owners should be mindful of capacities for balconies inside the French Quarter and along the parade route.
  • Viewing stands should be inspected for safety prior to use.
  • Costumes worn by Mardi Gras float riders and parade participants should be made of flame retardant materials.  All float riders must wear a safety position device.
  • Caution is advised with the use of flambeaus. Parade viewers are advised to give them adequate room to pass.
  • Open flames are prohibited and cooking with portable grills or similar equipment on the route is strongly discouraged. We ask that you are cautious when using such equipment and remember that it must be at least six feet from the parade route and should be kept clear of combustibles and crowds and to please
  • Properly discard any hot ashes and coals by ensuring they are completely extinguished and disposed of in a proper receptacle.
  •  Uncovered barbecue pits or open flames must be at least six feet from the parade route and should be kept clear of combustibles and crowds.
  • Be responsible when smoking.  Make sure all cigarette butts are completely out before you discard them.
  • Do not carry children or adults on your shoulders.
  • Do not bring glass items to parade routes.
  • Remember to double-check all cooking and heating devices before leaving home to make sure they have been turned off.
  • Most importantly, parade goers and Mardi Gras revelers are reminded that “IF YOU SEE SOMETHING, SAY SOMETHING!” If you see something suspicious or out of the ordinary notify a police officer or other Public Safety Personnel immediately.

Hurricane Safety

Everyone must prepare for emergencies and take proper precautions in using equipment before, during and after a storm. Visit NOLA Ready for additional hurricane preparedness information.

Before a Storm: Prepare Your Home

  • Keep all trees and shrubs well-trimmed and clear loose and clogged rain gutters and downspouts.
  • Tape does not prevent windows from breaking.
  • Bring in all outside furniture, decorations, garbage cans, etc.
  • Turn off propane tanks.
  • Fill bathtub or buckets with water for cleaning and flushing toilets.
  • Put copies of important documents in a waterproof, portable container in an easily accessible location
  • Check NOLA Ready for full preparedness tips and information

During a Storm: Keep Your House Safe from Fires

Portable Generators

  • Operate generators in well ventilated locations outdoors away from all doors, windows and vent openings.  
  • Locate generators so that exhaust fumes cannot enter homes through windows, doors or other building openings.
  • Do not refuel generators while they are running.
  • Turn generators off and let them cool before refueling. 
  • Generators get extremely hot and will cause severe burns if not handled with caution.
  • Do not store gas or flammable liquids in your home.

Never try to power the house with a generator (back feeding); this is an extremely dangerous practice and could overload circuitry and burn down your home.

There is always a risk of carbon monoxide poisoning when using portable generators that are not well ventilated. Carbon monoxide (CO) is an odorless, tasteless, invisible, poison gas.  Every year, 1,500 people die of CO poisoning and 10,000 others need medical attention because of it. CO poisoning is a real threat, one that you cannot see, smell, or taste, but that you can prevent.


  • Keep candles at least 1 foot away from things that can catch fire, like clothing, books and curtains. 
  • Use candle holders that are sturdy, won’t tip over easily, are made from a material that cannot burn, and are large enough to collect dripping wax.
  • Keep candles and open flames from flammable liquids.
  • Never leave candles or kerosene lamps burning unattended or within the reach of small children or pets. 
  • Extinguish all candles when leaving home or going to bed.

Immediately After a Storm

  • Use extreme caution going out of doors. Be ready for broken glass, and damage to building foundations, streets and bridges, and coastal or hillside erosion.
  • Stay away from downed power lines.
  • Keep listening to radio, TV, or NOAA Weather Radio All Hazards.
  • Watch for closed roads. If you come upon a barricade or a flooded road turn around.
  • If you evacuated, do not return to your home until local authorities say it is safe.

Elevator Safety

Numerous injuries and deaths are associated with passengers attempting to self-rescue from stalled elevator cars.  Injuries such as dismemberments and passengers being crushed to death outside the elevator car. If you are trapped in a stalled elevator car you should follow these precautionary guidelines:

  • Remain Calm, Control breathing, especially individuals who are claustrophobic.
  • Ring the elevator alarm bell or push call button, or use cell phone to dial 911 to alert building management that you are trapped.
  • Move to the center of the elevator car. Do not jump up and down or rock the car.  This could upset the brake system and shift the car making it harder for rescuer to reach you.
  • Do not attempt to leave the elevator car by any means unless an emergency responder directs you. Passengers have gotten caught between floors as they have attempted to get out of car and elevator moved.
  • Elevator cars are still energized.  Emergency responders will de-energize elevator cars before attempting rescue.
  • Free falling is not practical due to more than one braking system on track.
  • Suffocation is a myth.  Oxygen levels will remain sufficient.  The elevator cars are not air tight and they have vents. Never use lighters or matches inside elevator cars.

The NOFD has trained Rescue personnel that responds to these types of emergency calls.  The NOFD also has a working relationship with management and elevator companies.