Fire Safety tips and statistics

With it being Fire Prevention Week here in the United States, I thought I would share some statistics from the National Fire Protection Association and some basic fire safety tips with all of you. If you didn’t know, I am a firefighter by trade, and have been for over 20 years. Some of these tips are things that I have seen that have resulted in fires or other problems in my career, so I hope they help.

Some Statistics First

These statistics for 2006 are the most up to date that I could find. These apply to the United States and Canada, and I’m not sure about statistics for fires in Europe or other parts of the world. Fire Safety is one area that most people don’t think about until it’s too late. Being prepared for the unexpected event of a fire in your home could save your life, and the lives of your loved ones.

  • In 2006, U.S. fire departments responded to 396,000 home fires. These fires caused 2,580 civilian deaths, 12,500 civilian injuries and $6.8 billion in direct damage.
  • On average, every three hours someone in the U.S. dies in a home fire. In Canada, someone is fatally injured in a residential fire roughly every 32 hours.
  • Most fatal fires kill one or two people. In 2005, 13 home fires killed five or more people. These 13 fires resulted in 80 deaths.
  • Cooking fires are the number one cause of home fires and home fire injuries.
  • More than half of all home fire deaths result from incidents reported between 11:00 p.m. and 7:00 a.m. But only twenty percent of home fires occur between those hours.
  • Although children five and under make up about 7% of the country’s population, they accounted for 12% of the home fire deaths, assigning them a risk almost twice that of an average person.
  • Older adults are also at greater risk of dying in a home fire than the population at large. Adults 65 and older face a risk twice the average person, while people 85 and older have a risk that is a little over four times that of the average person.
  • December and January were the peak months for reported home fires and home fire deaths.
  • Home fires, fire deaths and fire injuries are more common on Saturday and Sunday.

Statistics from the National Fire Protection Association site.

Some General Tips for Fire Safety

There are several different primary causes for home fires, some of which include cooking, candles, and electrical item misuse. Here are some general and basic tips for each category, and you can always find more information through the National Fire Protection Association website.

  • Cooking safety
    • Frying food on the stove or rangetop is the most common leading cause of kitchen fires.
    • Don’t leave food unattended on the stove or rangetop and be sure that the elements are cool prior to placing anything on it.
    • Gas stoves and ranges also pose a risk of Carbon Monoxide death. You should have a Carbon Monoxide detector in your home if you have any gas appliances.
  • Candle safety
    • Make sure that candles are kept away from other combustible materials, such as draperies and furniture.
    • Never leave a candle burning while you are not in the room, or at home
    • If placing a candle on a combustible surface, such as a table, make sure that there is a non-combustible item underneath it, such as a plate or other non-combustible item to limit heat transfer.
  • Electrical safety
    • Extension cords are a leading cause of electrical fires. Knowing the amperage rating on your extension cord will ensure proper usage.
    • Surge protectors are good if used properly. Don’t overload a surge protector with air conditioners, refridgerators, or other appliances that draw heavy amperage.
    • Pluging one surge protector into another defeats the surge protection features and will overheat the surge protectors, possibly causing catastrophic failure and fires.
    • If you are using extension cords, don’t run them under rugs or carpet, through a doorway, or allow them to become pinched or crushed. This will cause a failure and resulting fire from the electrical short that occurs.
  • Knowing what to do if a fire occurs ahead of time can, and will save your life. Being prepared is easy and just takes a few minutes. One of the best methods is to have a home evacuation escape plan in place, and practice it routinely with your family. Find a safe place to gather outside of the residence and never go back in to a home on fire once you have exited.

    Some other resources

    Here are a few other great sources of information about developing a fire safe home. Also, if you have further questions, or are looking for further information, just ask your local fire department to assist you.

In conclusion

I hope some of the tips and information have offered an insight into Fire Safety for you. Just remember that fire safety is everyones business, and being prepared will help in case of an actual emergency.

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