The devastation caused by many fires is preventable. According to the US Fire Administration, 18,000 Americans are injured and 3,500 die each year in fire related accidents. Although some fires are the result of lightning strikes and wildfires, many of them begin in the home.
The number one cause of house fires is smoking. USA Today has stated that, “cigarette fires have been the top cause of U.S. fire fatalities for decades, killing tens of thousands of people in the past 30 years, according to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), a research group that provides data for state and federal fire codes.”
Fires set by children are another major cause. Kids are responsible for setting over 100,000 fires annually. 30% of those fires kill the children who set them. If you have kids, discuss fire safety with them as soon as possible and reinforce the potential for danger on a regular basis.
As for basic precautions, anyone can take; here is a list of suggestions.
- Install at least two smoke detectors on every floor
- Never burn yard debris or trash near your home in dry, windy weather. Always have a hose nearby, when you do
- Keep your roof, gutters, and foundation free of leaves and debris
- Pay close attention to grills, fireplaces, fire pits, candles, oil lamps, and lit cigarettes
- Make sure you have a fire extinguisher and garden hose in easy access
- Keep foundation plantings to a minimum and avoid using wood and bark mulch, which are both highly flammable
- Have regular inspections of your home’s wiring by a qualified electrician
- You can prevent embers from blowing into your home by covering vents with wire mesh
- If you are building a new home, look into new fire resistant building components and avoid flammable roofing materials
To borrow the words of fire fighting icon, Smokey the Bear, ‘Only YOU can prevent house fires.”
Below is a good video on fire prevention from our friends across the pond: