Home Fire Safety
U.S. home structure fires 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.
- 92% of all civilian structure fire deaths resulted from home structure fires.
- Cooking is the leading cause of home structure fires and home fire injuries.
- Kitchens are the leading area of origin for home structure fires (42%) and civilian home fire injuries (38%).
- Only 4% of home fires started in the living room, family room, or den; these fires caused 24% of home fire deaths.
- Seven percent of reported home fires started in the bedroom. These fires caused 25% of home fire deaths, 20% of home fire injuries, and 14% of the direct property damage.
- Smoking is a leading cause of civilian home fire deaths.
- Home structure fires peak around dinner hours between 5:00 and 8:00 pm.
- Three out of five reported home fire deaths resulted from fires in homes with no smoke alarm present (37%), or at least one was present but none operated (23%).
- Most fatal fires kill one or two people. In 2011, 12 home fires killed five or more people. These 12 fires resulted in 67 deaths.
The use of a fire extinguisher in the hands of a trained adult can be a life and property saving tool. However, a majority of adults have not had fire extinguisher training and may not know how and when to use them. Fire extinguisher use requires a sound decision making process and training on their proper use and maintenance.
Basically, there are five different types of extinguishing agents. Most fire extinguishers display symbols to show the kind of fire on which they are to be used.
- Class A extinguishers are for ordinary combustible materials such as paper, wood, cardboard, and most plastics. The numerical rating on these types of extinguishers indicates the amount of water it holds and the amount of fire it can extinguish. Geometric symbol (green triangle)
- Class B fires involve flammable or combustible liquids such as gasoline, kerosene, grease and oil. The numerical rating for class B extinguishers indicates the approximate number of square feet of fire it can extinguish. Geometric symbol (red square)
- Class C fires involve electrical equipment, such as appliances, wiring, circuit breakers and outlets. Never use water to extinguish class C fires - the risk of electrical shock is far too great! Class C extinguishers do not have a numerical rating. The C classification means the extinguishing agent is non-conductive. Geometric symbol (blue circle)
- Class D fire extinguishers are commonly found in a chemical laboratory. They are for fires that involve combustible metals, such as magnesium, titanium, potassium and sodium. These types of extinguishers also have no numerical rating, nor are they given a multi-purpose rating - they are designed for class D fires only. Geometric symbol (Yellow Decagon)
- Class K fire extinguishers are for fires that involve cooking oils, trans-fats, or fats in cooking appliances and are typically found in restaurant and cafeteria kitchens. Geometric symbol (black hexagon)
Install smoke alarms on every level of your home, including the basement. Many fatal fires begin late at night or early in the morning, so the U.S. Fire Administration recommends installing smoke alarms both inside and outside of sleeping areas.
Since smoke and many deadly gases rise, installing your smoke alarms at the proper level will provide you with the earliest warning possible. Always follow the manufacturer's installation instructions.
Smoke alarms are powered by battery or they are hardwired into the home's electrical system. If the smoke alarm is powered by battery, it runs on either a disposable 9-volt battery or a non-replaceable 10-year lithium battery. A backup battery is usually present on hardwired alarms and may need to be replaced. These batteries must be tested on a regular basis and, in most cases, should be replaced at least once each year (except for lithium batteries).