For Families

Smoke Alarms in various rooms in the house

Smoke Alarms

Smoke alarms save lives. Properly installed and maintained smoke alarms play a vital role in reducing fire deaths and injuries. When there is a fire in your home, smoke will spread fast and you need smoke alarms to alert you to the danger and to give you time to get out.

Here's what you need to know!

  • Approximately 60% of residential fire deaths result from fires in homes without working smoke alarms
  • A closed-door may slow the spread of smoke, heat, and fire. Install smoke alarms in every sleeping room and outside each separate sleeping area.
  • In addition to coverage for the sleeping areas, a smoke should be installed on every level of the home.
  • Whenever possible, smoke alarms should be interconnected. Different options exist, including wireless and physical connectivity. Ultimately, the goal is to ensure that when one sounds, they all sound.
  • You should ensure your family knows what to do when an alarm goes off. When a smoke alarm sounds, get outside and stay outside!
  • Test your smoke alarms at least once a month. Press the test button to be sure the alarm is working.
  • Replace all smoke alarms in your home every 10 years.
  • For assistance with their installation in your home, contact Botetourt County Fire & EMS at 540-928-2201.

For additional information on smoke detectors, visit the National Fire Protection Association

Carbon Monoxide Alarms

Carbon Monoxide Alarms

Although the popularity of carbon monoxide (CO) alarms has been growing in recent years, unfortunately, many people are familiar with the hazards of carbon monoxide poisoning in the home and are unprotected.

Often called the "Invisible Killer," carbon monoxide is an odorless, colorless gas created when fuels (such as gasoline, wood, coal, natural gas, propane, oil, and methane) burn incompletely.

In the home, fuel-burning heating and cooking equipment are potential sources of carbon monoxide. Most commonly, these include gas stoves, gas hot water heaters, gas logs, gas furnaces, and fireplaces. If you have one of these devices, you should have at least one working carbon monoxide detector in your home.

  • Vehicles or generators running in an attached garage can also produce dangerous levels of carbon monoxide. Portable generators are useful during storms, but if not used safely, they can cause injuries and death. View this Portable Generators and Winter Storms (PDF) for more information on generators and their proper usage.
  • The dangers of CO exposure depend on a number of variables, including the victim's health and activity level. Infants, pregnant women, and people with physical conditions that limit their body's ability to use oxygen (i.e. emphysema, asthma, heart disease) can be more severely affected by lower concentrations of CO than healthy adults would be.
  • A person can be poisoned by a small amount of CO over a longer period of time or by a large amount of CO over a shorter amount of time.
  • Data from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC's) National Center for Health Statistics show that in 2017, 399 people died of unintentional carbon monoxide poisoning in addition to those killed as a result of carbon monoxide exposure in fire situations.

For more safety tips, installation instructions, and other information visit the National Fire Protection Association website.

Car Seat Safety Tips

The best way to keep your child safe in the car is to use the right car seat in the right way. Here are some car seat safety tips to protect your most precious cargo.

Hard Facts About Safety in Cars

  • Road injuries are the leading cause of preventable deaths and injuries to children in the United States.
  • Correctly used child safety seats can reduce the risk of death by as much as 71%.
  • More than half of car seats are not used or installed correctly.

Top Tips About Car Seat Safety

  1. Buying the right car seat. Your baby needs to ride in a rear-facing car seat as long as possible until 2 or more years. When your child has outgrown that seat, you are ready for a forward-facing car seat. Get more details about buying the right car seat for your child.
  2. Installing your car seat. You'll need to decide on using either the seat belt or lower anchors to secure your car seat. Both are safe but don't use them both at the same time. Once your child is forward-facing, it is important to use the tether with the seat belt or lower anchors. Get more details about installing your car seat.
  3. Getting the right fit. A properly-fitted harness gives the best possible protection for your child. Here are more details about getting the right fit for your child.
  4. When to change your car seat. Look on the car seat label to make sure your child is still within the weight, height, and age limits for that seat. Get details about when to change your car seat.

Learn More

Many kids spend a lot of time in the car, so it is important to learn how to keep them safe on the road. There's a lot to know! Learn more car seat safety tips to protect your child.

Additional Information

To schedule a car seat safety check, or obtain more information, visit the Safe Kids Southwest Virginia webpage.

Exit Drills In The Home (EDITH)

Performing EDITH can help you and your family prepare for an emergency. Most home fires occur at night when people are the least prepared. If you and your family have not practiced how to escape during an emergency, home fires can become a disaster.

How to Design Your Fire Escape Plan

To build your own fire escape plan, sketch the floor plan of your home on a piece of paper. Your plan should include all doors, windows, and other areas from which you could escape from each room in your home. Draw arrows to indicate the normal exits which would be your primary escape route. With an alternate color, draw arrows to indicate a secondary exit from each room in the home. Make sure to include your meeting place.

Practice, Practice, Practice

Once you have designed your plan, test it to make sure it works. Make sure to run through the drills on a regular basis. Regular exit drills in the home will allow you to test the plan and make adjustments as needed. When practicing your exit drills in the home, remember to use alternate escape routes as well. Make sure that your children know what to do during the drill - this will help them know what to do in a true emergency.


Everyone should know the location of telephones in the home and where to find a telephone outside of the home (a neighbor's house). It is very important that children also know the 911 phone number in order to report a fire or other emergencies to authorities.

Special Needs

People with physical or mental handicaps face greater risks during a fire emergency. People with special needs should sleep in a bedroom near someone who can help in the event of an emergency. A physically handicapped person may require a sleeping area on the ground floor of your home. Design a special escape plan based on the abilities of the person.

Home Fire Safety Surveys

Home fire safety inspections are available by appointment. When requested, firefighters visit your home and look for overloaded outlets, working smoke detectors, unobstructed exit routes from your home, and good visibility of address markings from the street. For those living in areas with wildfire risk, we will also discuss ways to make your home more resilient in the event of a forest fire.

Upon request, a copy of the inspection findings will be given to the residents, along with suggestions for improvement. A follow-up appointment may also be requested if so desired. Our goal in providing this service is to make sure that your home is free of potential fire and life safety hazards.

Contact our Botetourt Fire and EMS at 540-928-2201 to schedule a visit to your home.

Severe Storm Warning Information

The majority of the U.S. is at risk for severe weather, which can cause dangerous and sometimes life-threatening conditions. Snowstorms, extreme cold, hurricane-force winds, torrential rains and flooding, and lightning can all wreak havoc on our daily schedules. Preparing before a disaster strikes and knowing what to do during and after a storm will help ensure you and your family greatly reduce your risk for injury and damage to your home.

Safety Tips

  • Develop and practice an evacuation plan ahead of a severe weather event. Include a plan for pets and add any transportation routes and destinations in the plan. Prepare an emergency supplies kit for both family members and pets ahead of time to take with you. Be prepared to evacuate when authorities tell you to do so.
  • Stay out of floodwaters, if possible, and do not drive into flooded areas. Even water only several inches deep can be dangerous.
  • Always assume fallen power lines are energized. Stay away from the area and report any downed lines to authorities immediately.
  • Unplug appliances and other electrical items, such as computers and televisions, to prevent damage from surges caused by lightning strikes.
  • If you evacuated, do not return to your home until local authorities say it is safe.
  • Plan two ways out of the home in case of an emergency. Clear driveway and front walk of ice and snow. This will provide easy access to your home.
  • Make sure your house number can be seen from the street. If you need help, firefighters will be able to find you
  • For additional information view the storm preparedness website and the flood relief (PDF), and hurricane preparedness (PDF) 

Cooking Fires

Cooking fires are the number one cause of home fires and home injuries. The leading cause of fires in the kitchen is unattended cooking.

Home Cooking Safety:

  • Be on alert! If you are sleepy or have consumed alcohol, don't use the stove or stovetop.
  • Stay in the kitchen while you are frying, grilling, boiling, or broiling food.
  • If you are simmering, baking, or roasting food, check it regularly and use a timer to remind you that you are cooking.
  • Keep anything that can catch fire - oven mitts, wooden utensils, food packaging, towels or curtains - away from your stovetop.

Cooking Fires:

  • Just get out! When you leave, close the door behind you to help contain the fire.
  • Call 911 or the local emergency number after you leave.
  • If you try to fight the fire, be sure others are evacuating and you have a clear way out.
  • Keep a lid nearby when you're cooking to smother small grease fires. Never use water on a grease fire or any fire on top of the stove. Smother the fire by sliding the lid over the pan and turn off the stovetop. Leave the pan covered until it is completely cooled.
  • For an oven fire, turn off the heat and keep the door closed.

Cooking Oil Safety Considerations:

  • Always stay in the kitchen when frying on the stovetop.
  • Keep an eye on what you fry. If you see wisps of smoke or the oil smells, immediately turn off the burner and/or carefully remove the pan from the burner. Smoke is a danger sign that the oil is too hot.
  • Heat the oil slowly to the temperature you need for frying or sautéing.
  • Add food gently to the pot or pan so the oil does not splatter.
  • Always cook with a lid beside your pan. If you have a fire, slide the lid over the pan and turn off the burner. Do not remove the cover because the fire could start again. Let the pan cool for a long time. Never use water on a grease fire.
  • If the fire does not go out or you don't feel comfortable sliding a lid over the pan, get everyone out of your home. Call the fire department from outside and stay out.

View a short cooking safety video.

Grill Fires

Grill fires cause an estimated $37 million in property loss each year.

  • Almost half of home grill fires happen between 5 and 8 pm.
  • Fifty-seven % of home grill fires occur during the months of May, June, July, and August.
  • Patios, terraces, screened-in porches, and courtyards are leading home locations for grill fires.
  • Seventy-nine % of all home grill fires involve gas grills.
  • "Mechanical failure, malfunction" is the leading factor in the start of grill fires. Leaks or breaks of containers or pipes are often to blame.

Grilling Fire 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 3-foot safe zone around grills and campfires. Keep kids and pets away from the area.
  • Dispose of coals after they have cooled in a metal can.
  • Never leave grills, fire pits, and patio torches unattended.

View a short outdoor cooking safety video.

  1. Fire & EMS

    Physical Address
    10 West Back Street
    Fincastle, VA 24090

  2. Emergency Communications Center

    Emergency Phone: 911