According to firesafety.gov, a website developed by governmental organizations such as the US Fire Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there are approximately 300,000 home fires each year in the US. While most families are able to escape a residential fire quickly and safely, about 4,000 people in the US die each year in home fires.
But that number—which means that about 11 people die in home fires every day—doesn't have to be so high. "Most fires and related deaths and injuries in residences are preventable," says United States Fire Administrator Greg Cade. "It is important that you take the necessary precautions to ensure your home is fire-safe."
Here are some simple fire safety tips you can start following today.
1. Smoke Alarms
Smoke alarms can significantly increase your chances of survival in the event of a home fire, so make sure every level of your home, as well every bedroom, has one installed, and that each one has fresh batteries. Fire safety experts recommend replacing each alarm's batteries about once a year; consider doing it when you adjust your clocks for daylight savings time. A malfunctioning alarm won't be any help if there's a fire, so be sure to test your smoke alarm at least monthly.
2. Escape Plan
Plan and practice an escape strategy with your family. Determine what each family member should do in case of a house fire and agree on a meeting point outside the home. The fire safety experts at firesafety.gov recommend practicing escape plans monthly. Additionally, the site suggests that "the best plans have two ways to get out of each room. If the primary way is blocked by fire or smoke, you will need a second way out."
3. Kitchen and Cooking Fires
Kitchen fires can start easily and quickly, but there are ways to reduce the chances of accidentally starting one. If you're one to leave the stove on, consider setting a timer when you start cooking that will remind you to turn the stove off. And be sure to keep towels, curtains, and anything else that can catch fire away from the stove.
4. Electrical Outlets
Americans tend to use many electric appliances at the same time, so it's understandable that we need all the outlets we can get. A simple fire prevention tip is to not overload an outlet or an extension cord with power-hungry appliances.
5. Holiday Lighting
Remember fire safety when installing, running, and removing holiday lights. If you're setting up a Christmas tree, make sure it isn't too close to a fireplace, radiator, or heating vent. For natural trees, make sure there is always have plenty of water to prevent the tree from drying out. And once the season is over, have the tree recycled right away. (To find your nearest recycling center, visit earth911.com.)
Following our family fire safety tips can help you be more prepared. If you do find yourself in the middle of a residential fire, just remember to get out. A small flame can quickly turn into a major fire, so time is of the essence.
For more fire safety tips and a downloadable Fire Escape Plan Grid, visit firesafety.gov.
Fire Safety for Citizens: "Smoke Alarms - Why, Where, and Which"
Fire Safety for Citizens: "Make a Fire Escape Plan"
U.S. Fire Administration: USFA Releases Residential Structure and Buildings Fires Report
U.S. Fire Administration: Focus on Fire Safety