The National Fire Protection Agency estimates that U.S. fire departments respond to over 370,000 home fires each year. These fires cause over 2,500 civilian deaths, over 13,000 injuries, and over $7 billion in property damage, each year.
According to the NFPA, “Cooking equipment is the leading cause of home structure fires and non-fatal home fire injuries.” Though cooking equipment is the leading cause of house fires, it is not responsible for the highest number of deaths.
Smoking materials and heating equipment are responsible for more deaths, which can likely be attributed to the fact that homeowners would often be asleep when the fire is ignited in these cases. A lit cigarette or a space heater that overheats when the residents are sleeping, gives the fire and dangerous smoke a head start, whereas with cooking equipment, the residents are more likely to be monitoring the equipment.
Regardless of the cause, it is essential to take measures to prevent home fires.
According to the NFPA “Three out of five home fire deaths resulted from fires in which no smoke alarms were present or in which smoke alarms were present but did not operate.”
This statistic speaks volumes about the importance of smoke detectors. If most deaths were caused by the lack of a functional smoke detector, most deaths from fire are preventable. Test your smoke detectors monthly and change the batteries at regular intervals. DO NOT wait until the batteries are dead to replace them.
Also, be cognizant of where fire extinguishers are located within the home and practice evacuation routes. It is best to have a primary evacuation and secondary evacuation plan in the event of a blocked or damaged path. Agree on a meeting place outside of the home and never go back into a burning building. Most importantly, be aware of any potential risks and take measures to prevent a fire from occurring in the first place.