Life-saving Fire and Smoke Alarm Facts

While National Fire Prevention Week comes to an end, we want to remind our readers that fire safety must be practiced year-round.

Life Saving Fire & Smoke Alarm Facts

Earlier in the week, we gave you tips on smoke alarm maintenance and how to conduct fire drills at home. These are simple habits we can easily adopt into our regular home upkeep routine; and these habits can be life saving.

For our final post this week, we’d like to share some statistics and facts on fire and smoke alarms, provided by the NFPA. Ensure all members in your household, especially young children, are aware of these facts along with smoke alarm maintenance and fire drill tips. Having more information on fire safety readily available and memorized will help to prevent fatal accidents caused by home fires.

Home Fires

  • Half of home fire deaths result from fires reported between 11 p.m. and 7 a.m. when most people are asleep. Only one in five home fires were reported during these hours.
  • One quarter of home fire deaths were caused by fires that started in the bedroom. Another quarter resulted from fires in the living room, family room or den.
  • Three out of five home fire deaths happen from fires in homes with no smoke alarms or no working smoke alarms.
  • In 2014, U.S. fire departments responded to an estimated 367,500 home structure fires. These fires caused 2,745 deaths, 11,825 civilian injuries, and $6.8 billion in direct damage.
  • On average, seven people die in U.S. home fires per day.
  • Cooking equipment is the leading cause of home fire injuries, followed by heating equipment.
  • Smoking materials are the leading cause of home fire deaths.
  • Most fatal fires kill one or two people. In 2014, 15 home fires killed five or more people resulting in a total of 88 deaths.
  • During 2009-2013, roughly one of every 335 households had a reported home fire per year.

Smoke Alarms

  • Three out of five home fire deaths in 2009-2013 were caused by fires in homes with no smoke alarms or no working smoke alarms.
  • Working smoke alarms cut the risk of dying in reported home fires in half.
  • In fires considered large enough to activate the smoke alarm, hardwired alarms operated 94% of the time, while battery powered alarms operated 80% of the time.
  • When smoke alarms fail to operate, it is usually because batteries are missing, disconnected, or dead.
  • An ionization smoke alarm is generally more responsive to flaming fires and a photoelectric smoke alarm is generally more responsive to smoldering fires. For the best protection, or where extra time is needed to awaken or assist others, both types of alarms, or combination ionization and photoelectric alarms are recommended.

Escape Planning

  • According to an NFPA survey, only one-third of Americans have both developed and practiced a home fire escape plan.
  • Almost three-quarters of Americans do have an escape plan; however, more than half never practiced it.
  • One-third of survey respondents who made an estimate thought they would have at least 6 minutes before a fire in their home would become life threatening. The time available is often less. Only 8% said their first thought on hearing a smoke alarm would be to get out!

Cooking

  • U.S. fire departments responded to an estimated annual average of 162,400 cooking-related fires between 2009-2013 resulting in 430 civilian deaths, 5,400 civilian injuries and 1.1 billion in direct damage.
  • Two of every five home fires started in the kitchen.
  • Unattended cooking was a factor in one-third of reported home cooking fires.
  • Two-thirds of home cooking fires started with ignition of food or other cooking materials.
  • Ranges accounted for three of every five (61%) home cooking fire incidents. Ovens accounted for 13%.
  • Children under five face a higher risk of non-fire burns associated with cooking and hot food and drinks than of being hurt in a cooking fire.
  • Children under five accounted for 30% of the 4,300 microwave oven scald burns seen in hospital emergency rooms during 2014.
  • Clothing was the item first ignited in less than 1% of home cooking fires, but these incidents accounted for 18% of the cooking fire deaths.
  • More than half of people injured in home fires involving cooking equipment were hurt while attempting to fight the fire themselves.
  • Frying is the leading activity associated with cooking fires.

Heating

  • The leading factor contributing to heating equipment fires was failure to clean. This usually involved creosote build-up in chimneys.
  • Portable or fixed space heaters, including wood stoves, were involved in one-third (33%) of home heating fires and four out of five (81%) home heating deaths.
  • Just over half of home heating fire deaths resulted from fires caused by heating equipment too close to things that can burn, such as upholstered furniture, clothing, mattresses or bedding.
  • In most years, heating equipment is the second leading cause of home fires, fire deaths, and fire injuries.

For more information, please visit www.nfpa.org.