More than 26% of of fires reported in the U.S. from 2015-2019 occurred in homes; here are just a few steps you can take to help prevent a fire in your home. For example, closing a door can reduce the temperature in a room by 900°F. A closed door can also keep carbon monoxide levels 10 times lower during a fire. Experts recommend closing bedroom doors while sleeping. Why? The hope is that you will gain a few precious minutes of time to get out safely. Every second counts!
Top 5 Sources of Home Fires
From 2015–2019 cooking was the leading cause of home fires and home fire injuries in the U.S.; smoking was the leading cause of home fire deaths. Most home fires and fire casualties resulted from these five causes: 1) cooking, 2) heating, 3) electrical distribution and lighting equipment, 4) intentional fire setting, and 5) smoking materials.
During this 4 year period U.S. fire departments responded to an estimated average of 346,800 home structure fires per year resulting in an annual average of:
- 2,620 civilian deaths
- 11,070 civilian fire injuries
- $7.3 billion in direct property damage
Space Heater Safety
Space heaters are the second leading cause of house fires. Be sure to follow all manufacturer’s instructions carefully. Additional safety tips for space heaters:
- Keep your space heater at least 3 feet away from anything that can catch fire
- Position the space heater away from high traffic areas in your home
- Never leave a space heater unattended – that includes while sleeping
- Unplug the space heater from the power source when not in use
- Plug your space heater DIRECTLY into a wall outlet that is not in use to power anything else
- Never plug your space heater into a power strip or extension chord because this can result in melted insulation and exposed wires (conditions that could also spark a fire)
Fireplace & Chimney Care
If you have a wood fireplace, clean the chimney flues once a year to help avoid build-up of creosote. Creosote is an oily by-product of wood fires that accumulates in chimneys and is flammable. To keep the chimney flues clean, hire an experienced, licensed chimney sweep who is also certified by the Chimney Safety Institute of America (csia.org).
Dryer Lint & Vents
Lint can build up and become a fire hazard. Clean out the dryer lint basket after every load. The dryer vent hose should also be checked and cleaned out regularly. Keep an eye on your dryer exhaust vent area to be sure it is not being blocked. If you have an exterior dryer vent, remove any obstacles from blocking it as they could present a fire hazard.
Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Detectors
Early detection is key to your survival if a fire occurs in your home. The best way to protect you and your loved ones is to install and maintain smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. The smoke and gases produced by the fire are toxic and deadly. Contact your local fire department for guidance on the type and placement within your home to install smoke and carbon monoxide detectors to maximize safety.
Be sure to replace the batteries in all detectors as recommended by the manufacturer. Keep a close eye on expiration dates since every smoke and carbon monoxide detector in the U.S. is required to provide this information. It is also recommended to test all of your detectors on a regular basis and replace them with brand new units before their stated expiration date.
Local Guidelines for Detectors
Many states set fire code requirements for smoke and carbon monoxide detectors that apply to all types of properties including residential homes. For Massachusetts residents, smoke and carbon monoxide detectors must pass inspections by the fire department prior to the sale of property. For detector requirements in MA visit: Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Detectors in Massachusetts
I hope these safety tips are helpful; do not hesitate to contact your local fire department with any questions or concerns about fire prevention and fire safety. Every second counts!
Statistics Source: NFPA National Fire Protection Association
Planning to Buy and/or Sell? Contact Tamela for a Home Buyer and/or Seller Consultation to review current safety precautions in place for real estate sales. It is very important to understand your rights as a home buyer or seller in MA as well as how to protect your negotiating position. Ensure your best interests are represented by hiring a reputable Realtor® with proven results who only represents you and your best interests as the Home Buyer or Home Seller (but not both sides in the same transaction).
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