Health & Safety

October 4, 2012

Is your home fire and injury safe?

Although it is difficult to prepare for the unexpected, reviewing the information below and following the recommended actions can help to save the lives of your family.

Home Fires

One home structure fire was reported every 85 seconds in 2010.

Most fatal fires kill one or two people. In 2010, 19 home fires killed five or more people. These 19 fires resulted in 101 deaths.

In 2010, U.S. fire departments responded to 369,500 home structure fires. These fires caused 13,350 civilian injuries, 2,640 civilian deaths, and $6.9 billion in direct damage

Escape Planning

According to an NFPA survey, only one-third of Americans have both developed and practiced a home fire escape plan.

Almost three-quarters of Americans do have an escape plan; however, less than half actually practiced it.

One-third of Americans households who made and estimate they thought they would have at least six minutes before a fire in their home would become life threatening. The time available is often less. And only eight percent said their first thought on hearing a smoke alarm would be to get out!

Smoke Alarms

Roughly two-thirds of home fire deaths happen in homes with no smoke alarms or no working smoke alarms. About one in five smoke alarm failures was due to dead batteries.

Working smoke alarms cut the risk of dying in reported home fires in half.

In fires considered large enough to activate the smoke alarm, hardwired alarms operated 91 percent of the time, while battery powered alarms operated only 75 percent of the time.

Home Fire Sprinklers

Automatic fire sprinkler systems cut the risk of dying in a home fire by about 83 percent.

Home fire sprinklers can contain and may even extinguish a fire in less time than it would take the fire department to arrive on the scene.

Sprinklers are highly effective because they react so quickly in a fire. They reduce the risk of death or injury from a fire because they dramatically reduce the heat, flames and smoke produced, allowing people time to evacuate the home

Cooking

Cooking has been the leading cause of reported home fires and home fire injuries since 1990. Unattended cooking was by far the leading cause of these fires; Two-thirds of home cooking fires began with ignition of cooking materials, including food, cooking oil, fat, or grease.

Cooking caused 42 percent of reported home fires, roughly 15 percent home fire deaths, and 37 percent of home fire injuries, and 11 percent of direct property damage from home fires in 2010.

Ranges accounted for the 58 percent of home cooking fire incidents. Ovens accounted for 16 percent.

Children under five face a higher risk of non-fire burns associated with cooking than being burned in a cooking fire.

90 percent of burns associated with cooking equipment resulted from contact with hot equipment or some other non-fire source.

Heating

Heating equipment was the leading cause of reported home fires in the 1980s and has generally ranked second since then. It is the second leading cause of home fire deaths. Fires involving heating equipment peak in December, January and February, as do deaths from these fires.

The leading factor contributing to heating equipment fires was failure to clean, principally creosote from solid fueled heating equipment, primarily chimneys.

Portable or fixed space heaters, including wood stoves, were involved in one-third of home heating fires and four out of five home heating deaths.

Half of home heating fire deaths resulted from fires caused by heating equipment too close to things that can burn, such as upholstered furniture, clothing, mattresses or bedding.

Smoking Materials

In 2010, smoking materials started and estimated 17,500 home structure fires, resulting in 540 deaths, 1,320 injuries and $535 million in direct property damage. Smoking materials are the leading cause of home fire deaths.

Sleep was a factor in two of every five home smoking material fire deaths. Possible alcohol impairment was reported in one quarter of these deaths.

In recent years, Canada and the U.S. have required that all cigarettes sold must be “fire safe.” They must have reduced ignition strength and less likely to start fires.

Electrical

Half of home electrical fires involved electrical distribution or lighting equipment. Other leading types of equipment were washer or dryer, fan, portable or stationary space heater, air conditioning equipment, water heater and range.

In 2010, electrical failures or malfunctions were factors in an estimated 46,500 home structure fires resulting in 420 deaths, 1,520 injuries and $1.5 billion in property damage

Candles

On average, there are 35 home-candle fires reported per day.

More than one-third of these fires started in the bedroom.

More than half of all candle fires start when things that can burn are too close to the candle.

In 2010, candles caused three percent of home fires, four percent of home fire deaths, six percent of home fire injuries and five percent of direct property damage from home fires.

“We often hear from residents that have experienced a fire in their home, or where a serious injury occurred and in most cases, it could have all been prevented,” LeClair said. “With our busy lives, the safety of our homes and families are sometimes relegated to the back of our minds – an afterthought as we hop in the car to start the day.  We hope that Fire Prevention Week will prompt the members of the D-M community to prevent home fires and injuries to fellow Airmen and family members regardless of where you live or work.”




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(U.S. Air Force Illustration by Airman 1st Class Cheyenne Morigeau)

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