During the winter months there are many more home fires. Nationally, the number of home fires is on the rise with the number of fires increasing 8 percent since 2000. Even though the cold weather months are almost over, I am including an update on home fire prevention in this issue.
The average cost of a home fire in 2006 was more than $17,000. Eighty percent of Americans don’t realize that home fires are the single most common disaster across the nation. Not only are lives lost in home fires, the economic losses are great. It’s very important for homeowners to have fire escape plans. But only 26 percent of families have actually developed and practiced a home fire escape plan. Fires kill more Americans each year than all natural disasters combined. Folks from all backgrounds and geographic locations are affected by home fires. In 2006, a home fire was reported every 80 seconds, and someone dies from a home fire every 204 minutes.
Children younger than 5, and adults older than 65 are more than twice as likely to die in a home fire as the rest of the U.S. population. African Americans in this country are disproportionately affected by home fires, and account for 25 percent of all fire deaths while they represent less than 13 percent of the population. Cooking fires are the leading cause of home fires and home fire injuries, and two out of three cooking fires start with the range or stove. Heating fires are the second leading cause of home fires. Smoking is the leading cause of home fire deaths. High-rise fires are more injurious and cause more damage than all other structure fires.
Each year more than 200 people die from carbon monoxide produced by fuel burning appliances in the home including furnaces, ranges, water heaters and room heaters. Every two and a half hours someone in the U.S. is killed in a home fire. In a typical year, 20,000 people are injured in home fires.
Having a working smoke alarm reduces one’s chances of dying in a fire by nearly half. In 2005, 74 percent of home fire deaths occurred in homes with no smoke alarms or no working smoke alarms. Smoke Alarms should be installed in every home. Properly installed and maintained smoke alarms save lives and protect against injury and loss due to fire. Sprinklers and smoke alarms together cut your risk of dying in a home fire 82 percent in relation to having neither. From 2000-2004, no smoke alarms were present or none operated in almost half of the reported home fires. An estimated 890 lives could be saved each year if all homes had working smoke alarms. The following are some preparedness recommendations that should be followed relating to smoke alarms:
Preparation of a good plan and then following it are essential. Only 26 percent of families have actually developed and practiced a home fire escape plan. The following are some recommendations that should be followed relating to fire preparedness and safety:
Sources: American Red Cross, U.S. Fire Administration, and the National Fire
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