According to information taken from the National Fire Incident Reporting System, each year over 75 percent of all fire fatalities occurred as a result of fires in our homes. Fires that affect our homes are often the most tragic and the most preventable. In the latest Topical Fire Report Series for the years 2009 to 2011, fire fatalities in our homes accounted for 82 percent of all those who died from fire.
Findings from the report indicate that the overwhelming majority of victims suffered from thermal burns and smoke inhalation.
Just over half of all house fire deaths occurred in bedrooms.
Just over half of fire fatalities in the home occurred between 11pm and 7am. This time period was also responsible for 48 percent of fatal fires in homes.
36 percent of those in house fires were trying to escape at the time of death, and an additional 35 percent were sleeping.
“Unintentional and careless actions” accounted for 16 percent of deaths, and smoking resulted in 15 percent.
Between 2009 and 2011, about 2,495 deaths resulted from 1,600 fatal fires and an estimated 360,900 house fires.
Of course, not all house fires produce fatalities. We can take some comfort in the fact that most house fires don't end in deaths. The average overall fatality rate was almost 6 people every 1,000 fires. Of the fires that did end with fatalities, 86 percent resulted in 1 death, 10 percent resulted in 2 deaths, and 4 percent resulted in 3 or more deaths. The leading cause contributing to death is that most people are sleeping during the peak hours when most fires occur.
House fires occur most often in January and less frequently from June to September.
House Fire Facts
Enough with numbers. What can we do to ensure that our homes and lives are protected from house fires?
But as the years went by, most of us have forgotten the basic but important facts we learned. When looking for a new home in Idaho remember to look for good routes to get out in case of an emergency.
It all begins with knowledge. The more a person knows, the less likely they are to succumb to a house fire. The number one rule about fire is that it spreads extremely quickly, and it leaves you no time to gather your valuables or make phone calls. In under 2 minutes, a fire can become life threatening. According to FEMA, your house can be engulfed in 5 minutes.
The second most important thing to remember about house fires is that the fire itself isn't always what's most dangerous. Your lungs can burn by breathing in the super hot air. Fire produces odorless and colorless fumes that behave like a cognitive poison. These gases will cause disorientation and drowsiness. It's horrifying, but a house fire can lull you into a deeper sleep rather than wake you up. FEMA says that asphyxiation is the leading cause of fire deaths. They exceed burns by a 3 to 1 ratio.
The heat from fire is more threatening than the flames themselves. A room on fire can be 100 degrees at floor level and rise all the way to 600 degrees at eye level. This kind of heat will scorch your lungs and melt your clothes to your skin. A room on fire can get hot enough that everything in it ignites at once, resulting in a flash over.
What To Do
You likely remember learning to make and practice a fire escape plan in grade school. But how many people actually put this into practice? Trained and informed people have a much higher chance of surviving a fire in their home, so the emphasis on implementing an escape route is paramount. FEMA suggests practicing your plan twice a year.
There are a lot of rules when it comes to getting out of a fire safely.
First and foremost, crawl along the floor. Heavy smoke and poisonous gas collects first along the ceiling.
If the door is blockedby smoke, try and implement an alternative way to get out. If you can't, get down low and move under the smoke.
Feel the door knob and door. If either surface is hot, use an alternative way out.
Recovering from a house fire is traumatic. As a homeowner, contact your insurance company for detailed instructions on protecting the property as well as taking an inventory and getting in touch with fire damage restoration companies.
The fire department will help you when it comes to ensuring your home is safe to enter again, as well as checking to make sure utilities are either safe to use or disconnected before they leave.
Conduct an inventory of damaged property and items and begin saving receipts for any money that you spend in relation to the fire. They might be needed by the insurance company and for verifying losses claimed on income tax.
Contact your mortgage company and check with an accountant or the Internal Revenue Service to see about any benefits for those recovering from fire.
House Fire Prevention
The way to prevent a fire at home is knowing what causes them. Kitchens are a common source for house fires as well as injuries from fire. When cooking, taking the steps to prevent a fire are easy and minimal, but can make all the difference. Simple steps such as staying in the kitchen when cooking at least 3 feet away from the stove are all it takes.
Smoking safety goes a long way toward preventing house fires. Don't sit or lie down while smoking and make sure cigarettes and ashes are out before discarding them into a can filled with sand.
Check the condition of your electrical system. Look in the attic and crawl spaces for damaged wiring caused by pests. Look for overloaded circuit breakers, panel boxes, or fuse boxes.
Check the air conditioning and heating unit in your home as well as all appliances.
Be careful with space heaters.
Inspect fireplaces and wood stoves. Check and clean wood stove pipes and chimneys annually for monthly damage or obstructions.
Never use an extension cord for air conditioners or space heaters. In fact, be overly cautious whenever using an extension cord in any situation.
Fatalities and property loss are entirely preventable. The more you know the less likely it is to happen to you!