It’s National Fire Prevention Week (October 4-10, if we’re getting specific) and that means things are about to get real. Seriously real.
Usually, we keep things as light-hearted as possible here on the blog. After all, if you wanted doom and gloom you could turn on the 6 o’clock news. But house fires (and their prevention) are a topic very near and dear to our hearts, and its not one we can smile about.
Here’s why: In 2013, U.S. house fires killed an average of eight people a day. That same year, fire departments around the nation received reports of 369,500 home fires. Total destruction: 2,755 Americans dead, 12,200 civilians injured, and $7 billion in direct damage.
The Top 5 Causes of Home Fires
There are many catalysts to home fires, but the five top culprits cause the majority of all residential flames:
- Cooking Equipment: More house fires start in the kitchen than anywhere else, and they’re usually caused by user, not equipment, error. You know the drill: turn on the stove, put on the pot, then walk away to check on the kids or change your clothes. Yep, that right there is the #1 cause of home fires in the U.S.
- Heating: The major culprits are not your HVAC system, but rather space heaters, fires, woodstoves, and chimneys. Read the instructions, follow manufacturer’s recommendations, and exercise caution.
- Smoking: Yes, smoking kills – in more ways than one. Smoking in bed or a comfortable chair can lead to falling asleep while smoking, and that spells danger.
- Electrical: From faulty wiring to too many extension cords, electrical fires are a serious problem. Something to keep in mind: if your breaker trips, there’s a reason. If it happens more than once, better call a licensed electrician.
- Candles: Logic holds true on this one – open flame can lead to raging fire. The big problem with candles is their placement: they should be located far from curtains, aerosol cans, and other easy-to-burn combustibles. Also be aware that your pets, a wobbly table, or even a strong wind can easily knock over a candle. And of course, as with #3, never fall asleep to a lit candle. (Better yet, swap your flame candles for the new LED candles with realistic flicker.)
How to Prevent a Home Fire
As the above shows, many home fires can be prevented. Exercise caution coupled with common sense, and you’ve just seriously reduced your risk. What else can you do, well we have put together a handy page of safety tips right here.
- Safety Check-up: Once a year, do a fire safety check-up on your home. Have an electrician check out your appliances and wiring; call in a chimney sweep to clean out your fireplace; have someone give your furnace a once-over.
- Equip Your Home: Fire prevention and safety equipment can extinguish a problem before it ever threatens your family. Gear up with carbon monoxide alarms, smoke detectors, fire extinguishers, and home fire sprinklers.
- And Speaking of Smoke Detectors: This year’s Fire Prevention Week theme is smoke detectors. Why? Because they are one of the most useful (and inexpensive) fire prevention tools out there. Learn more about smoke alarms.
- Practice Your Escape Plan: Most house fires happen at night, so your family should have a solid escape plan. Practice, practice, practice.