According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), fire departments responded to home fires every 93 seconds across America in 2019 resulting in more than $7 billion in property damage. Do you know what to do in case of a fire emergency? Here’s how to help keep your family safe.
What Causes Residential Fires?
The U.S. Fire Administration reports that of an estimated 379,600 residential building fires in 2018, 50.7% were caused by cooking; 9.4% by heating; 7.5% were due to unintentional carelessness; and 6.8% were started by electrical malfunctions. The NFPA goes on to estimate almost 1,000 home fires annually are accidentally started by pets which include fires started from open-flame candles, fireplaces, and appliances.
Alarming Fire Statistics
The NFPA states, “Most fire deaths are not caused by burns, but by smoke inhalation. Often smoke incapacitates so quickly that people are overcome and can’t make it to an otherwise accessible exit. The synthetic materials commonplace in today’s home produce especially dangerous substances.” The NFPA goes on to say, “Almost three of every five home fire deaths resulted from fires in homes with no smoke alarms (40%) or no smoke alarms that were working (17%).”
Stock Your Home with Fire Safety Equipment
- Carbon Monoxide Detectors: According to the National Center for Environmental Health of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 50,000 Americans are treated annually for carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning resulting in more than 400 deaths. Be sure to install CO detectors throughout your home including all sleeping areas.
- Fire Extinguishers: Industry experts also recommend having at least one A-B-C-rated fire extinguisher on each floor of your home including the basement, garage, and kitchen. Make sure all members of your family know how to use them while noting that the average portable fire extinguisher empties in 8 seconds so that’s not a lot of time to try and quash a fire before evacuating your home. The Red Cross suggests remembering the word PASS when it comes to using a fire extinguisher:
- P: Pull out the small pin that prevents accidental usage
- A: Aim low at the base of the fire
- S: Squeeze the lever evenly and slowly
- S: Sweep the nozzle from side-to-side
- Smoke Alarms: The American Red Cross says, “If you have a fire, smoke alarms can cut nearly half of the risk of dying in a fire” as they can detect smoke and invisible combustion gases, as well as flaming and smoldering fires. While new homes come hard-wired with smoke alarms, if you have an older home ensure that you have smoke alarms on every level plus one outside each bedroom so humans and animals can hear them. The NFPA suggests replacing your smoke alarms every 10 years as they can become less sensitive. It’s important to replace the batteries and test your smoke/carbon monoxide alarms at least twice per year using Daylight Saving Time as a reminder. And if you’re still not sure you’ll remember, DomiDocs has a handy maintenance feature that comes complete with calendar reminders.
- Sprinkler Systems: To quickly control a fire in your home, consider installing an automatic sprinkler system as a way to immediately start fighting against fire while helping to prevent the spread. Sprinklers can also reduce the chance of smoke reaching your family and may also reduce your homeowner insurance premium.
Teach Your Children Well
Ensure that lighters and matches are always stored in a safe location well away from curious little hands. Teach your kids to know and practice stop, drop, and roll, should they somehow become engulfed in flames. If your home has multiple levels, show your kids how to use escape ladders and to make them easily accessible for them to quickly grab if necessary.
Have an Escape Plan
Do you know what to do in an emergency fire scenario? The Red Cross states you may have as little as two minutes to escape your home. Establishing an out-of-home meeting place and regularly practicing a fire escape plan is vital to keeping you and your family safe. This includes involving your pets and training them to listen and react when you call them. It’s important to always have a back-up plan in place in case an escape route from your home is blocked.
The key to escaping a home fire scenario safely is planning. Heaven forbid you need to file an insurance claim from a fire, but if you do, all of your important insurance papers can be securely stored online within the easy-to-use DomiDocs home management platform.
For more information on keeping your home safe and sound, read Disaster Preparedness in our DomiDocs New Homeowner Guide.
Author – Connie Motz