Home Safety and Fire Prevention

Emergencies happen at any time. Prepare for fires nowOctober is fire prevention month so it makes sense to review some of the statistics around fires and the home.

  • More than 500,000 residential fires each year are serious enough to be reported to fire departments.
  • 4,000 people die each year in home fires.
  • 90 percent of residential fire deaths and injuries happen in one and two family houses/apartments.
  • Property losses from these fires exceed 4 billion dollars annually.

Residential Fires Down ~30% since 1980

The statistics aren’t great but there’s hope. The number of fires has decreased with more focus on fire safety along with products that are fire resistant. Smoke detectors are a big factor in reducing fires and deaths related to fires. The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) continues to focus on improvements to the products which cause the most fires and loss of life. These products include home heating appliances, furniture, bedding and clothing must now meet fire safety standards.

Products to Help You Respond to a Home Fire

There is a saying that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. The following list of home emergency products and procedures might seem like a lot, but there are much cheaper than dealing with the results of a fire in your home.

  • Smoke Detectors – Smoke detectors have continued to improve since the original¬† battery operated smoke detectors. Hard wired smoke detectors were introduced so when one smoke detector goes off, all of the connected smoke detectors sound to alert everyone in the house. The latest improvement is hardwired connectors that also include battery backup. More smoke detectors are required now (type and location varies by state) from placement in bedrooms, hallways and stairways throughout the house.
  • Fire Extinguishers are recommended for each floor of your home and in areas of your home most susceptible to fires, the kitchen and garage. Ideally a fire extinguisher should be mounted on the wall in plain site so it’s easy to find in an emergency. You might place a fire extinguisher in the laundry room when it’s right off the kitchen and near the door, just inside the garage.
  • Fire Escape Ladders – Fire escape ladders are recommended as a large number of fires occur during the night when everyone is sleeping, often blocking the stairs which are needed to exit the house. Probably the most important aspect of an escape ladder is being able to find it when you need to use it. PEARL Escape and Rescue Ladders are designed to be stored inside the wall, immediately below a window so you can focus on leaving your home quickly and safely.

When there’s a problem, it’s best if everyone knows what to do. That’s why there are fire drills in schools and office buildings. Take time to plan your family’s exit from your house and practice at least once a year, more often if you have small children. You safety is most important. Read these Basic Fire Fighting Tips so you know when to leave versus staying to fight the fire.

Home Products That Require Extreme Caution

The CPSC continues to research which products cause the most fires, and what can be done to prevent the fires. “Fire experts agree that one key to fewer fires is a greater awareness of how accidents can be prevented. By spotting hazards and taking simple precautions, many fires and fire-related injuries can be prevented.”

Here’s a link to Your Home’s Fire Safety Checklist on the CPSC website. The following products are addressed in the checklist.

  • Supplemental heating sources – including wood stoves, kerosene heaters, gas-fired space heaters and portable electric space heaters. The CPSC estimates that half the deaths resulting from fires caused by electric heaters occurred at night while unattended as people were sleeping.
  • Cooking Equipment – Don’t wear loose clothing while cooking and keep items that catch fire easily like potholders, away from the stove.
  • Cigarette Lighters and Matches – Keep lighters and matches out of site where children cannot reach them.
  • Upholstered Furniture – Look for products that meet the requirements of the Upholstered Furniture Action Council’s (UFAC) Voluntary Action Program. They will be identified by a gold colored tag.
  • Mattresses and Bedding – Mattresses manufactured since 1973 are required to resist cigarette ignition so if you’re a smoker, consider replacing your mattress.
  • Wearing Apparel – Most important is the clothing worn when sleeping, and especially for children and seniors. Buy sleep wear that is flame resistant and follow manufacturer directions for longevity.
  • Flammable Liquids – These include gasoline, acetone, lacquer thinner, alcohol, turpentine, contact cements, paint thinner, kerosene and charcoal lighter fluid. They should be stored in tightly closed, non-glass containers and placed where children cannot reach them.

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About tinagleisner

Tina Gleisner is the founder of the Assn of Women Home Owners and the Assn of Home Professionals. With more than 30 years experience owning homes across the US and 8 years running a handyman business, Tina is building an online community to connect homeowners with home professionals that deliver quality products and services. She is passionate about giving women a comfortable way to learn and plan projects to protect, enhance and enjoy their homes.

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