According to data released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in 2008, fire departments nationwide responded to 403,000 residential fires, with 2,755 deaths reported from fire and 13,560 injuries. Death from burns and fires is the fifth most common cause of unintentional deaths in the U.S., and 4 out of every 5 fires occur in the home. More Americans are killed each year by fires than by all natural disasters combined.
Most fires are reported to occur during winter months, when space heaters and flammable materials ignite and can fill a home with thick, black smoke within minutes. Small flames can become a major fire in less than 30 seconds, and residents can become trapped in the home, breathing in toxic smoke and gases.
With the proper fire prevention methods and routine maintenance, the majority of home fires and fire deaths are preventable.
Federal fire prevention organizations suggest the following basic tips for fire safety in the home:
Smoke alarms are the single most important means of preventing fire deaths, according to government fire safety documents. The American Red Cross estimates that nearly 75 percent of home fire deaths that occurred in 2005 could have been prevented had there been a functioning smoke alarm in the home. A working smoke alarm can reduce the risk of death from a home fire by at least 50 percent.
It is recommended to install smoke alarms on every floor of a house, including the basement, with alarms placed close to bedrooms or inside bedrooms, if possible.
While there are many brands of smoke alarms, all alarms fall into three main categories: ionization sensor alarms, photoelectric sensor alarms, and dual sensor alarms. Smoke alarms can be hardwired into a home’s electrical system or can use a 9-volt battery or a 10-year lithium long-life battery. Batteries should be replaced each year if long-life alarms are not used. Smoke alarms should be tested monthly using the test button, and alarms need to be replaced entirely every 10 years
Cooking is the leading cause of home fires and home fire injuries, with most cooking fires beginning with unattended food on the range, stove, or grill.
To prevent cooking fires and accidents, remember the following tips:
Smoking is the leading cause of preventable home fire deaths. Smoking accidents frequently occur with mattresses, bedding, furniture, and floor coverings.
The following tips can help prevent smoking accidents in the home:
Since most home fires occur during winter months, space heaters and other alternative forms of heat pose a real danger in the home if used incorrectly or if the electrical component is inferior.
To prevent heater fires, keep the following tips in mind:
Faulty electrical systems, defective appliances, and inferior extension cords can lead to dangerous home electrical fires that could result in thousands of dollars worth of property damage. Homes that are more than 40 years old have an increased risk of fires due to faulty electrical wiring than newer homes, as current power demands are often too much for aging wiring systems.
Use the following tips to keep your home safe from electrical fires:
According to the U.S. Fire Administration, fires that occur during the holiday season cause more than 400 deaths and 1,650 injuries each year, with Christmas trees, holiday lights, and candles often to blame.
Make sure your home is safe during the holiday season with these important tips:
Inferior electrical products and some household items have the potential to cause a fire or lead to extensive property damage, injury, or death.
The following items are often recalled by manufacturers due to the potential for fire and burn hazards if there are electrical problems or manufacturing errors: