October is Fire Safety Month

2,500 people die and 12,600 are injured in home fires in the United States, with direct property loss due to home fires estimated at 7.3 billion annually. Home fires can be prevented! Here are some fast facts about fire and fire prevention from the National Fire Protection Association:

1. Almost two thirds of reported home fire deaths resulted from fires in homes with no smoke alarms or no working alarms.  New homes are required to have an interconnected alarm system – meaning when one goes off, they all go off. Regardless if you have hard-wired or battery-powered smoke detectors,  have one on every level of your home.  Every 6 months, replace the batteries with fresh ones at the beginning and the end of  Daylight Savings Time. (November 3rd in 2013.) In fires large enough to activate the smoke alarm, hardwired alarms operated 92% of the time while battery powered alarms operated only 77% of the time.

2. Purchasing a fire extinguisher is one of the best investments a homeowner can make.  Did you know that two out of every five home fires start in the kitchen?  Unattended cooking was a factor in 34% of reported home cooking fires. Should you ever need to use it, just remember the acronym PASS: Pull the pin to release the handle, Aim the extinguisher at the base of the fire, Squeeze the trigger, and Sweep the discharge stream at the base of the fire.

3. Have the creosote build-up professionally cleaned from your chimney and fireplace. Failure to clean the fireplace and chimney is a leading factor in chimney fires.

4. Portable or fixed space heaters, including wood stoves were involved in 32% of home heating fires and 80% of home heating deaths. Half of those fires were caused by things that burn being placed too close – upholstered furniture, clothing and bedding.

5. Escape planning. One-third of American households who made an escape plan, estimated they would have at least 6 minutes before a fire in their home would become life threatening. The time available is often much less. And only 8% said their first thought on hearing a smoke alarm would be to get out!

I found an excellent resource about fire and fire safety on the U.S Government FEMA website page on Home Fires.  Learn about fires, what to do before, during and after a fire and how to prevent home fires.