Preventing fires should be top priority

Published 9:40 am Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Today is the beginning of National Fire Prevention Month 2014 and a great time to check your home for fire safety.

According to the National Fire Protection Association, www.nfpa.org, “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. …

“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,” reads the website.

“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,” reads the website.

“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!” reads the website.

“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. …

“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. …,” reads the website.

“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,” reads the website.

“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. … 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.”

Be sure to inspect your home for fire safety in October.(MGNonline)