Fires are the third leading cause of accidental injury in the home.
According to FEMA, an estimated 236,200 fires in one- and two-family homes were reported in the United States each year (2009-2011). Those fires caused an estimated 1,980 deaths, 8,525 injuries, 5.5 billion dollars in property loss, and accounted for 65 percent of all residential building fires annually.
Cooking is the leading cause of fires in the home. House fires are more frequent in the cooler months.
The five biggest threats for fire in the home are:
- Cooking – especially on the stovetop. Do not leave the stovetop unattended while cooking.
- Heating – give portable space heaters 3 feet of space all the way around. If using logs in the fireplace, inspect and clean the chimney annually.
- Smoking – smoke outside and away from furniture.
- Electrical – deteriorating electrical cords can fray and spark. Check cords to make sure they are in good shape and replace them as needed. Old wiring shoud be updated. Do not overload circuits.
- Candles – Consider using battery-operated candles. If not, monitor and remain in the room while candles are burning.
Who is at Risk?
Fires put all household occupants at risk. Small children, the elderly and the diabled are at increased risk due to limitations on their ability to escape a house fire.
Structure fires kill. Those that are lucky to survive my be harmed by burns, carbon monoxide poisoning, exposure to other toxic fumes, trips, and falls.
Exit Drills In The Home (EDITH) can help prepare for emergency. When there is a fire in the home, the family that has practiced and is prepared is more likely to survive unharmed. There are four simple steps to preparation.
- Prepare a fire escape plan.
- Install and maintain smoke detectors.
- Practice exit drills in the home regularly. Children should practice too!
- Examine your home for fire hazards and take steps to prevent a fire before it occurs.
The Healthy Homes Coalition recommends one hard-wired or 10-year lithium battery smoke alarm inside and outside of each sleeping room, and one alarm on each floor of the home, including the basement. Test the alarms once a month and install new ones at least every ten years.