Biggest Little City

Home Safety

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Residential fires account for nearly 400,000 of the fires reported annually in the United States.  On an average, fires in recent years have been the cause of more than 3,000 deaths and approximately 18,000 injuries.  Most of these deaths and injuries occur in the home.
Many of these deaths and injuries could be prevented by following some simple home safety tips such as installing and maintaining smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, having a home escape plan and creating defensible space around your home to help prevent against the threat of wildfires.
The links below provide important information which will help make your home safer.  If you need additional information or have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact the Reno Fire Department at 775-334-2300.

Carbon Monoxide

Carbon Monoxide is a harmful, colorless, odorless, and tasteless gas which is emitted by all fuel-burning appliances and vehicles in and around the home.

After being inhaled, carbon monoxide is absorbed by the oxygen-carrying portion of your blood 240 times more quickly than oxygen. It replaces the oxygen in your blood, depriving your organs and cells of the life-giving oxygen they need to function. It also prevents the release of oxygen into your blood stream. This one-two fatal punch causes asphyxiation and death. Since children are smaller and have a faster metabolism than adults, they take in carbon monoxide faster than we do. The elderly are also more susceptible to carbon monoxide poisoning. 

It can be difficult to recognize the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning. Carbon monoxide is a great imitator of the flu. A mild exposure will cause a slight headache, nausea, vomiting, and fatigue. Medium exposure to carbon monoxide will cause a severe headache, drowsiness, confusion, and a fast heart rate. Extreme exposures to carbon monoxide lead to unconsciousness, convulsions, and heart and lung failure. 

Concentration of CO in air vs. symptoms 
(per the National Fire Protection Association)

  • 50 ppm: No adverse effects with 8 hours of exposure.
  • 200 ppm: Mild headache after 2-3 hours of exposure.
  • 400 ppm: Headache and nausea after 1 or 2 hours of exposure.
  • 800 ppm: Headache, nausea, and dizziness after 45 minutes; collapse with unconsciousness after 1 hour of exposure.
  • 1,000 ppm: Loss of consciousness after 1 hour of exposure.
  • 1,600 ppm: Headache, nausea and dizziness after 20 minutes of exposure.
  • 3,200 ppm: Headache, nausea  and dizziness after 5 to 10 minutes; collapse and unconsciousness after 30 minutes of exposure.
  • 6,400 ppm: Headache and dizziness after 1-2 minutes; unconsciousness and danger of death after 10-15 minutes of exposure.
  • 12,800 ppm: Immediate physiological effects, unconsciousness and danger of death after 1-3 minutes of exposure.

All combustion devices and all fuel burning appliances generate carbon monoxide. Well-maintained and properly adjusted appliances emit less carbon monoxide than those which aren't working correctly. However, over a period of time, even properly operating appliances can produce lethal doses of carbon monoxide. Therefore, it is essential that your home is properly ventilated. Clean chimneys and flues will help ensure proper ventilation. 

Un-vented fueled portable heaters can also be dangerous. They emit carbon monoxide, which displaces the oxygen in your home. They are illegal in living areas. 

If your home has an attached garage, do not leave your car running with the outside garage door closed, because carbon monoxide can enter your home even through the inside garage door is closed. 

The best defense against carbon monoxide is to make sure your home has a good exchange of fresh air, that chimneys and flues are clear, and that all appliances are well-maintained and properly adjusted. Additionally, a properly operating carbon monoxide detector or detectors should be located in the living and sleeping areas of your home.

Defensible Space

Living in Nevada means learning to live in an environment that burns.
As our community moves closer and closer to the wildland urban interface - the area where the "city" meets open land - there are practical and specific steps you can take to protect your home from wildfires.

 FACT: Homes with adequate defensible space are more likely to survive a wildland fire.

What is Defensible Space?

Defensible Space is the area around your home where the vegetation has been modified to reduce the fire threat. The size of a home's defensible space varies, depending upon property size, location, and topography. Sometimes, a defensible space is simply a homeowner's properly maintained backyard. Yet other property owners might need to provide over 200 feet of defensible space around their property. To calculate an effective defensible space for your home, go to Click on "before the fire" and then go to the "defensible space" section. Please explore this website. It will give you great information on many aspects of how to protect your home from wildland fire. 

Why create Defensible Space around your home?
The purpose of defensible space is two-fold. A properly designed defensible space can provide our firefighters with a safe place from which to defend your home from an approaching wildland fire. At the same time, homes with adequate defensible space are more likely to survive a wildland fire, even without firefighter assistance. 

How to create Defensible Space

The Reno Fire Department would like to encourage you to create a defensible space around your home. You can do this by implementing the three "R's" into your landscaping design:
  • Removal
  • Reduction
  • Replacement

Remove dead or flammable vegetation. Reduce vegetation by pruning or mowing. Providing space between plants and trees removes the continuous fuel bed that might otherwise exist throughout your yard. The more continuous and dense the vegetation is in your yard, the greater the wildfire threat to your home. Replace flammable vegetation with less hazardous choices. Shorter plants are better than taller plants, and non-woody plants are better than evergreens or junipers.

Learn how to request permission to create defensible space on public property surrounding your home.

Make it easy for firefighters to get to your home
It is also important for the safety of our firefighters, should they respond to a wildland fire in your area, that your address is clearly posted and readily visible from the street, and that street signs are posted and unobstructed. Clear vegetation along both sides of your driveway and, if your driveway is longer than 150 feet, a turnaround suitable and large enough for fire equipment is required. 

Work together with your neighbors
As more and more of us move into what was formerly open space, it becomes increasingly important that we work together, as neighbors, to keep our homes, our subdivisions, and our communities safe. Ideally, we should all have appropriate defensible space around our homes. If you and your neighbors would like help organizing, planning, applying for grant money, and implementing a fire safe neighborhood plan, the Nevada Fire Safe Council can help. The Nevada Fire Safe Council is a non-profit membership based organization whose mission is to assist local groups who are willing to take the necessary action to improve the survivability of their neighborhoods and communities.  For further information, please visit their website at

If you have questions or would like clarification on any of this information, please do not hesitate to contact the Division of Fire Prevention at 775-334-2300.

Escape Plan

Plan your home escape 
Once a fire has started, it spreads rapidly. You may have only seconds to get out. Normal exits from bedrooms may be blocked by smoke or fire. It is important that everyone knows exactly what to do. You should plan and practice escaping before an emergency strikes. 

Identify escape routes 
Draw a floor plan of your house. Plan two exits from every room and trace them onto your floor plan. You may need a ladder for second-story windows. 

Have a place to meet 
Choose a meeting place outside the home. Meet there during your practice drills. The first thing the fire department will want to know upon arrival at a fire scene is whether or not everybody is out of the building. A central meeting place will help you answer that question. 
Do not go back into a burning building! 

Practice escaping 
Practice your home escape plan. Practice allows you to test and perfect your plan before a real emergency. You may not be able to reach your children or others who would need help with exiting! It is important that everybody knows exactly what to do during an emergency. 

Smoke detectors 
A smoke detector is a fire alarm that sounds when it detects smoke, warning you in time to escape. Smoke detectors can be house-current or battery operated. Either kind can do a good job. Make sure that the model you choose has been listed by a nationally recognized testing laboratory. There should be at least one smoke detector on every floor of the house except attics, unless the attic space is used for sleeping. Additional detectors will significantly increase your chance of survival. 

Read the instructions that come with the detector for advice on placement and installation. Smoke detectors should be located near bedrooms, either on the ceiling or 6-12 inches below the ceiling on a wall. This enables the detector to sense the smoke as it approaches the sleeping area. Locate your smoke detector away from air outlet vents. Also, locate your smoke detector away from the bathroom door, since steam may set it off. Test your detector monthly, by pushing the test button. If it doesn't work, the battery may need to be replaced. Batteries should be replaced as often as necessary, but at least twice a year. Change them when you change the clocks in the spring and fall.

  1. Have a Plan
  2. Have a Place to Meet
  3. Call 9-1-1

Remember, being prepared could save your life! 


Portable extinguishers are for use on small fires only, but even small fires can be dangerous if extinguishers are used incorrectly. If the fire gets larger than about the size of a small trashcan, leave the area. You can be quickly overcome if you remain. 

Become familiar with your portable fire extinguisher. If you don't have an extinguisher, purchase one at your earliest opportunity. For home use, we recommend no smaller than 5 pound, and a dry chemical with an ABC rating can be used in a variety of situations. 

Fire Extinguishers are classified according to the types of fire they are designed to extinguish. Fires are divided into four classes: A, B, C, and D.

extinguisher a A. Ordinary combustibles- wood, paper, many plastics and other common materials.
extinguisher b B. Flammable liquids- gasoline, lacquers, solvents and other flammable liquiIds.
extinguisher c C. Electrical equipment-energized electrical equipment, circuit breakers and appliances.
extinguisher d D. Combustible metals

Remember your extinguisher must fit the fire. Using an extinguisher that is not rated for the fire you are fighting will make the fire worse and increase the danger to you. Multipurpose dry chemical extinguishers are rated for all three of the most common types of fires, A, B and C. 

*If you are going to fight the fire, remember this word...PASS

  1. Pull the pin. Some extinguishers require releasing a lock latch, pressing a 
    puncture lever, or other motion.
  2. Aim Low. Point the extinguisher nozzle or hose at the base of the fire.
  3. Squeeze the handle. This will start the flow of extinguishing agent.
  4. Sweep from side to side. Aim at the base of the fire until the fire appears to be out. Watch the fire area. If the fire starts again, be prepared to repeat the use of the extinguisher.

Safety points to Consider when fighting the fire:

  1. Make sure everyone is leaving the area
  2. Assign one person to call 9-1-1
  3. Never fight a fire if:
  • The fire is spreading beyond the immediate area where it started.
  • The fire could block your escape route.
  • You are unsure of the operation of the fire exinguisher.
  • You are in doubt about the fire extinguisher being the correct type for the fire you are facing. If in doubt, leave immediately,  and close off the area. Let the professionals fight the fire. 

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