- In 2011, U.S. fire departments responded to 370,000 home structure fires. These fires caused 13,910 civilian injuries, 2,520 civilian deaths, $6.9 billion in direct damage.
- On average, seven people died in U.S. home fires per day from 2007 to 2011.
- Cooking is the leading cause home fires and home fire injuries, followed heating equipment.
- Smoking is a leading cause of civilian home fire deaths.
- Most fatal fires kill one or two people. In 2012, 8 home fires killed five or more people resulting in a total of 44 deaths.
- Almost three of five (60%) of reported home fire deaths in 2007 to 2011 resulted from 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 93% of the time, while battery powered alarms operated only 79% 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.
- 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 (32%) of 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!
- U.S. Fire Departments responded to an estimated annual average of 156,600 cooking-related fires between 2007-2011, resulting in 400 civilian deaths, 5,080 civilian injuries and $853 million in direct damage.
- Two of every five home fires started in the kitchen.
- Unattended cooking was a factor in 34% of reported home cooking fires.
- Two-thirds of home cooking fires started with ignition of food or other cooking materials.
- Ranges accounted for the 57% of home cooking fire incidents. Ovens accounted for 16%.
- Children under five face a higher risk of non-fire burns associated with cooking and hot food and drinks than being burned in a cooking fire.
- Microwave ovens are one of the leading home products associated with scald burn injuries not related to fires. According to the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System, two out of five of the microwave oven injuries seen at emergency rooms in 2011 were scald burns.
- Clothing was the item first ignited in less than 1% of home cooking fires, but these incidents accounted for 15% of the cooking fire deaths.
- The leading factor contributing to heating equipment fires was failure to clean, principally creosote from solid fueled heating equipment, primarily 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.
- 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.
- Fixed or portable space heaters are involved in about 4 out of 5 heating fire deaths.
- During 2007-2011 smoking materials caused an estimated 17,900 home structure fires, resulting in 580 deaths, 1,280 injuries and $509 million in direct property damage, per year.
- Sleep was a factor in 31% of the home smoking material fire deaths.
- Possible alcohol impairment was a factor in one in five (18%) of home smoking fire deaths.
- In recent years, Canada and the United States have required that all cigarettes sold must be “fire safe,” that is have reduced ignition strength and less likely to start fires.
- About half (48%) of home electrical fires involved electrical distribution or lighting equipment. Other leading types of equipment were washer or dryer, fan, portable or stationary space heater, air conditioning equipment water heater and range.
- Electrical failure or malfunctions caused an average of almost 48,000 home fires per year, resulting in roughly 450 deaths and nearly $1.5 billion in direct property damage.
- During 2007-2011 candles caused 3% of home fires, 4% of home fire deaths, 7% of home fire injuries and 6% of direct property damage from home fires.
- On average, there are 32 home candle fires reported per day.
- More than one-third of these fires (36%) started in the bedroom; however, the candle industry found that only 13% of candle users burn candles in the bedroom most often.
- Nearly three in five candle fires (56%) start when things that can burn are too close to the candle.
Fire Safety for the Holidays
Properly maintaining a cut Christmas tree is important to retaining a high moisture content in the needles of the tree to limit accidental ignition and prevent rapid flame spread. A tree which has dry needles can readily ignite with a flaming source and generate heat release rates that are capable of causing flashover in residential scale rooms.
Fire Safety Tips for Adults
Cooking with Care
- Stay in the kitchen when you are frying, grilling, or broiling food. If you leave the kitchen for even a short period time, turn off the stove.
- Keep anything that can catch fire – potholders, oven mitts, wooden utensils, paper or plastic bags – away form your stovetop.
- Wear short, close fitting or tightly rolled sleeves when cooking. Loose clothing can dangle onto stove burners and catch fire.
- Always keep an oven mitt and lid handy. If a small fire starts in a pan on the stove, put on the oven mitt and smother the flames by carefully sliding the lid over the pan. Turn off the burner. Don’t remove the lid until it is completely cool.
Everyday Electrical Safety
- Keep lamps, light fixtures, and light bulbs away from anything that can burn, such as lamp shades, bedding, curtains, and clothing.
- Replace cracked and damaged electrical cords.
- Use extension cords for temporary wiring only. Consider having additional circuits or receptacles added by a qualified electrician.
- Homes with young children should have tamper-resistant electrical receptacles.
- Call a qualified electrician or landlord if you have recurring problems with blowing fuses or tripping circuit breakers, discolored or warm wall outlets, flickering lights or a burning or rubbery smell coming from an appliance.
- Install and maintain carbon monoxide alarms to avoid risk of carbon monoxide poisoning.
- Maintain heating equipment and chimneys by having them cleaned and inspected every year by a qualified professional.
- Keep all things that can burn, such as paper, bedding or furniture, at least 3 feet away form heating equipment.
- Turn portable space heaters off when you go to bed or leave the room.
- An oven should not be used to heat a home.
Strike Out Smoking-materials Fires
- If you smoke, choose fire-safe cigarettes if they are available in your area.
- If you smoke, smoke outside.
- Wherever you smoke, use deep, sturdy ashtrays.
- Never smoke in a home where oxygen is used.
- Keep matches and lighters up high in a locked cabinet, out of the reach of children.
Candle with Caution
- Keep candles at least 12 inches form anything that can burn.
- Use sturdy, safe candleholders.
- Never leave a burning candle unattended. Blow out candles when you leave a room.
- Avoid using candles in bedrooms and sleeping areas.
- Use flashlights for emergency lighting.
- Install smoke alarms in every bedroom, outside each sleeping area and on every level of the home. For the best protection, interconnect all smoke alarms throughout the home. When one sounds, they all sound.
- Test smoke alarms at least once a month using the test button.
- Replace smoke alarms every 10 years.
- Make sure everyone can hear the sound of the smoke alarms.
- Have a home fire escape plan. Know at least two ways out of every room, if possible, and a meeting place outside. Practice your escape plan twice a year.
- When the smoke alarm sounds, get out and stay out.
- If you are building or remodeling your home, consider a residential fire sprinkler system.
Fire Safety Tips for Kids
Safety in the kitchen
- Remind grown-ups to stay in the kitchen when cooking. Keep things that can burn (potholders, towels, and paper) away from the stove.
- Stay three feet away from the stove when a grown-up is cooking.
- Help grown-ups check electrical cords to make sure they are not damaged.
- Remind grown-ups to keep space heaters 3 feet from anything that can burn.
- Grown-ups should always turn off space heaters every time they leave the room and before going to bed.
- Remind grown-ups never to use an oven to heat your home.
Match and lighter safety
- Tell a grown-up if you find matches or lighters
- Grown-ups should keep matches and lighters in a locked cabinet.
- Remind grown-ups to put out lit candles when they leave a room.
- Stay 3 feet away from burning candles.
Safety smart grown-up reminders
- Install smoke alarms on every level of your home, inside each bedroom and outside each sleeping area.
- Test smoke alarms once a month.
- Replace smoke alarms every 10 years.
- Make a home fire escape plan withm your family.
- Find two ways out of every room and an outside meeting place.
- Know the emergency number for your fire department.
- Practice your escape plan twice a year.
- When the smoke alarm sounds, get out and stay out!