Safety Information

Housing Safety Program - Safety DOs and DON'Ts


Be sure all units have working smoke detectors.
Smoke detectors are required by law in all dwelling units used for sleeping. They must be mounted on ceilings or walls and centrally located in the corridor or area leading to each sleeping space. Detectors will chirp if batteries are weak and need replacing.

Be sure fire extinguishers are properly located and charged.
Fire extinguishers should be located in hallways and common spaces.  Kitchens should have the special chemical extinguishers designed for fighting grease fires.  If extinguishers are missing or in need of being recharged, contact your maintenance manager.

Always address the smell of gas.
Gaseous odors indicate a possible natural gas leak. If you smell gas, contact the fire department or PG&E immediately.

Teach members not to play with radiators.
To avoid injuries & fires, members must learn not to play near or drop things into radiators heaters or grates - particularly those heaters recessed into walls and floors.

Use flashlights instead of oil lamps or candles.
Flashlights are helpful in emergencies and safer than oil lamps and candles. Candles and lamps used at other times should be of the low-flame variety, kept away from combustibles and never left unattended.

Keep hallways clear of bikes, recycling and debris.
Buildings that are not kept in a clean and orderly condition are much more likely to have multiple safety & fire hazards.

Use only one device for each electrical outlet.
Overloaded electrical outlets are a common fire hazard. Too many devices plugged into one outlet may cause overloading.

Always unseal windows after painting.
New paint can improve a room's appearance but a sealed window will create a trap during an emergency evacuation.

Prepare emergency plans for both fire evacuations & earthquakes.
Map out alternative egress in the event exits are impassable during a fire evacuation. Reduce injuries during earthquakes by not locating mirrors, shelves, bookcases or top-heavy furniture over or near beds. Contact the Office of Emergency Services at 644-8736 for more preparation & planning information.


Never disable smoke detectors.
The Berkeley Fire Code requires smoke detectors be operable. It is illegal to disable, disarm or remove smoke detectors.

Don't smoke in bed.
It is preferable to smoke outdoors. If smoking is permitted in your building, use adequate and heavy ashtrays, and never smoke in bed. Extinguish and properly discard all smoking material.  Be careful when smoking on couches - they are flammable and a fire can get big under the cushions before it is noticed.

Don't place items against electrical breakers, over heaters or near furnaces.
Many fires start because of combustible materials placed on top of heaters. Stay mindful of breakers and heaters that are recessed into walls and floors and never place anything over or against them.

Don't use furnace or water heater closets for storage.
Storing items near heat producing devices can cause fires. Nothing should be stored in heater closets.

Don't use propane or flaming devices indoors.
Propane stoves, torches, charcoal grills and other apparatus must not be used in residential spaces.

Don't replace 15amp fuses with higher rated fuses.
Replacing 15amps with higher rated fuses will not provide more power. This will, however, cause electrical short-circuiting and potential fire hazards. Avoid using heat lamps.

Don't use heat lamps.
Because of their extreme temperatures, heat and Torchiere lamps pose a serious fire hazard and are not recommended in residential spaces.

Don't use extension cords on heaters.
It is best to avoid using space heaters. But, if they are used, they must be at least 3 feet away from combustibles, unpluged when not in use and never used with an extension cord. "Tip switches" that automatically turn off if the heater tips over are helpful.

Don't clog plumbing.
Sinks, tubs & toilets must drain & operate completely to maintain health & safety. Dispose of waste materials in appropriate receptacles. And don't flush highly absorbent material down toilets.

In The Event Of Fire Evacuation:

  •     Never ignore fire alarms
  •     Leave the building immediately - don't stop to collect belongings.
  •     Don't use elevators. They may lead to the source of the fire.
  •     Check door handles by touching lightly with the back of your hand. If they are hot, don't open them & find another way out.
  •     When leaving, close doors behind you & pull any fire alarms you may pass.
  •     Stay low in smoke - this helps reduce smoke inhalation.
  •     When you are safe outside, call 9-1-1.
  •     If your clothes catch fire: Stop, Drop & Roll to put them out.
  •     Cool burns quickly with water & get medical attention.