Each year, fire departments respond to over 400,000 residential fires. Annually, more than 3,500 people die from fire in their own homes. In many cases, some simple steps may have prevented the fire from starting. Prevention of home fires is the focus of this year’s National Fire Prevention Week.
“As winter months and holidays get closer, the rates of fire and fire deaths increase. Take a little time to ensure that you and your family do not have to suffer the effects of a fire in your home,” says U.S. Fire Administrator Greg Cade. “Each of us would benefit from checking our own homes for fire hazards and making sure that everyone in the residence knows what to do in case of fire.
The most common causes of home fires result from cooking, heating, electrical malfunction, smoking materials and candles. Each of these activities carries with it a risk of fire, but that risk can be greatly lessened if you follow some common sense safety tips.
- Stay in the kitchen when you are cooking. Many fires start from “unattended” cooking.
- Maintain heating equipment and chimneys by having them inspected and cleaned annually by a qualified professional.
- If you smoke, put it out, all the way, every time.
- Keep things that can burn away from light bulbs, light fixtures and lamps. For any suspected electrical problems, call a qualified electrician.
- Use flashlights during emergencies, not candles. If using candles, blow them out when leaving the room, and keep them away from things that can burn.
The U.S. Fire Administration has a great deal of information related to each of the common causes of residential fire on its Web site, http:www.usfa.dhs.gov. There also is information on smoke alarms, escape planning and sprinklers.
The USFA suggests every family have a comprehensive fire protection plan that includes smoke alarms, residential sprinklers and practicing a home fire escape plan.