A fire at home can quickly become out of hand, causing costly damage to your house, injuries, and even fatalities. To reduce your risk of a house fire, know the facts and how to curb risk factors. Hays + Sons shares important statistics to educate our customers about home fire risks and tips for fire prevention that help keep your family safe.
Cooking – The Leading Fire Cause
Cooking incidents are the top cause of house fires across the United States. According to the National Fire Protection Association, an average of 172,900 cooking-related residential fires occurred each year between 2014 to 2018. Yearly, cooking fires resulted in an average of 550 civilian fatalities, 4,820 civilian injuries, and $1.2 billion in damage to property.
Prevent cooking-related fires in your home when you implement these practices:
- Never leave the stovetop unattended when it is on – turn it off if you must leave the room.
- Roll up sleeves, wear closely fit clothing, and tie back hair when cooking.
- Remove any combustible materials from the cooking area.
- Clean up grease splatters and spills right away.
- Know how to properly extinguish different types of cooking fires – grease fires should be smothered, not put out with water.
- Make sure your kitchen is equipped with a fire extinguisher.
Using an outdoor grill isn’t necessarily a safer alternative. About 10,600 grill fires are reported each year, causing $149 million in property damage. They are most prevalent between the months of May through August.
Indoor Smoking Dangers
Smoking materials such as cigarettes and cigars have long been a leading cause of house fires as well as house fire fatalities. There are an average of 16,800 smoking-related fires each year, causing 590 fatalities and 1,050 injuries in addition to $492 in property damage losses. Smoking-related house fires have a higher rate of death and injury than home fires of all other causes, and people ages 45 and older are most likely to be victims versus younger occupants.
Prevent smoking-related home fires by:
- Always smoking outdoors.
- Make sure smoking materials are fully extinguished before leaving the area.
- Use ashtrays or other receptacles with wide bases to avoid tipping.
- Do not smoke while tired or under the influence of alcohol, prescription medications, or other intoxicating substances.
- Do not smoke near medical oxygen tanks or equipment.
Heating & Air Conditioning Equipment Fires
Home fires involving heating equipment are the second most common behind cooking incidents, causing an average of 48,500 fires each year. As the second leading cause of house fire injuries and third leading cause of fatality, 500 deaths and 1,350 injuries related to heating fires happen each year – as well as $1.1 billion in property damage. Though less common, air conditioning equipment is also capable of starting a fire at home.
Fire prevention tips for your heating and air conditioning equipment include:
- Have home heating and cooling equipment professionally serviced once per year. Most system malfunctions leading to fires are preventable through regular maintenance.
- Have chimneys cleaned and inspected annually.
- Regularly clear away debris that may surround the heating or cooling unit to ensure good airflow and prevent items from catching fire.
- Never store combustible materials near your heating system.
- When using a space heater, set the unit on a flat surface with at least three feet of clear space surrounding it.
- Never use space heaters unattended or in areas where they can easily be knocked over.
Risk of Intentional Fire
Fires intentionally set (arson) account for 28,300 incidents, 370 fatalities, 790 injuries, and $547 million in property damage each year. Nearly 65 percent of intentional fires are suicides. While it is difficult to prevent intentional fires, there are steps you can take to reduce the risk:
- Maintain your property by removing leaves and debris from areas around the house, as well as trimming back bushes.
- Keep combustible materials and firewood stored away from the structure.
- Lock all doors and windows when away from home.
Smoke Detector Safety
The increasing use of smoke detectors in the home has helped reduce the number of serious home fires, fatalities, and injuries over the years. Make sure your home is properly protected and maintain your smoke detectors so they work reliably when needed.
- Install smoke detectors on each level of the home. Locate them outside sleeping areas to provide the best chance people will hear them overnight.
- Install smoke detectors on the ceiling or on the wall no more than 12 inches from the ceiling.
- Press the test button to test your smoke detectors monthly.
- Change batteries at least once per year or sooner if the unit chirps.
Get Help When Fire Damage Happens at Home
Home fires can happen even when you take precautions to lower your risk. Should a house fire cause destruction and damage at your home, Hays + Sons is here to help you during this difficult time. Our fire restoration services handle your home and personal property so you can regain a sense of normalcy. Contact us today for more information.