This week marks a national observance that can literally save lives. National Fire Prevention Week is the longest running public health and safety observance on record and it runs through Saturday.
In 2011, American fire departments responded to 370,000 home structure fires that caused 13,910 civilian injuries, 2,520 civilian deaths and $6.9 billion in direct damage. Cooking remains the leading cause of home fires, followed by heating equipment.
As winter approaches, home heating and cooking become more prominent concerns for most households, making it a perfect time to assess risks, prevention and escape plans, according to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA)
The 2014 Fire Prevention Week theme is “Smoke Alarms Save Lives: Test Yours Every Month.” Did you know that a working smoke alarm will cut your risk of dying in a home fire in half? Whether hardwired or battery operated, be sure to test your alarms twice a year (monthly is better) to ensure they are fully operational. When smoke alarms fail to operate, it is usually because batteries are missing, disconnected, or dead.
The NFPA recommends practicing safe cooking as two of every five home fires start in the kitchen. Fires that start with ignition of food or other cooking materials top the list of fire hazards in the kitchen as well as unattended cooking.
In other parts of the home, staying warm in the cold weather months can turn deadly if fire breaks out. Wood stoves and space heaters are common culprits in winter fires. These items placed too close to things that can burn including bedding, upholstered furniture and clothing can be highly dangerous. Failure to clean creosote from chimneys is another common fire hazard.
Smoking and unattended candles in the home are especially dangerous, causing millions of dollars in property damage and hundreds of deaths every year.
Finally, the NFPA recommends having an escape plan for every room of the house. Practice the plan with all family members and focus on improving escape times.
Want to teach your kids about fire safety? The NFPA has a great page for kids where they can play games and learn about fire prevention. Click here to visit their page! Want to learn more about fire safety? Click on the images below to read safety tips for preventing home fires.