When I saw the headline, “7 People Die Each Day in Home Fires”, I decided to do some research about one of our greatest fears–a home fire! Let me share what I found and some tips for preventing a fire in your home.
According to the National Fire Protection Association, NFPA, each year more than 2,500 people die and 12,600 are injured in home fires in the United States. Direct property loss due to home fires is estimated at $7.3 billion annually.
How Home Fires Start
Cooking equipment or kitchen fires continues to be the leading cause of home fires and home fire injuries. Smoking materials persist as the leading cause of home fire deaths. While less common, faulty electrical wiring is another cause of home fires.
- Half of home fire deaths were caused by incidents reported between the hours of 11 p.m. and 7 a.m.
- Older adults were the age group most likely to die in a home fire
- 25% of the home fire deaths resulted from fires that originated in the bedroom
- 24% of fires occurred in the family room, living room or den
- 16% of home fires started in the kitchen
What You Need to Know About a Home Fire
Home fires can be prevented! Home fire deaths can be prevented! The smarter we are about home fires, the better we are able to protect our homes and families from the dangers of home fires. Here’s what you need to know about a home fire.
Asphyxiation Causes Fire Deaths
Heat and smoke from fire can be more dangerous than the flames. Inhaling the super-hot air can sear your lungs. Fire produces poisonous gases that make you disoriented and drowsy. Instead of being awakened by a fire, you may fall into a deeper sleep. Asphyxiation is the leading cause of fire deaths, exceeding burns by a three-to-one ratio.
Fire is FAST!
There is little time! In less than 30 seconds a small flame can get completely out of control and turn into a major fire. It only takes minutes for thick black smoke to fill a house or for it to be engulfed in flames. Most deadly fires occur in the home when people are asleep. If you wake up to a fire, you won’t have time to grab valuables because fire spreads too quickly and the smoke is too thick. There is only time to escape.
Fire is HOT!
Heat is more threatening than flames. A fire’s heat alone can kill. Room temperatures in a fire can be 100 degrees at floor level and rise to 600 degrees at eye level. Inhaling this super-hot air will scorch your lungs. This heat can melt clothes to your skin. In five minutes, a room can get so hot that everything in it ignites at once: this is called flashover.
Fire is DARK!
Fire isn’t bright, it’s pitch black. Fire starts bright, but quickly produces black smoke and complete darkness. If you wake up to a fire you may be blinded, disoriented and unable to find your way around the home you’ve lived in for years.
Fire is DEADLY!
Smoke and toxic gases kill more people than flames do. Fire uses up the oxygen you need and produces smoke and poisonous gases that kill. Breathing even small amounts of smoke and toxic gases can make you drowsy, disoriented and short of breath. The odorless, colorless fumes can lull you into a deep sleep before the flames reach your door. You may not wake up in time to escape.
Working Smoke Alarms is Your Best Protection
As many as 60% of home fire deaths resulted in residences that did not have a smoke alarm or, if one they had one, it did not operate. “Three out of five home fire deaths occurred in homes without working smoke alarms, which emphasizes the importance of taking personal responsibility when it comes to protecting yourself and your family from fire,” says Lorraine Carli, vice president of communications for NFPA. “Installing and maintaining these alarms could save a majority of the lives lost in home fires, especially if they work in conjunction with home sprinklers.”
If you did not change the batteries in your smoke detectors when we switched to Daylight Savings Time (March 10, 2013), now is a good time to change those batteries.