It’s Coming from Inside the House!
It is one thing to be an expert in keeping danger from entering your house, but what about threats from the inside? No, we’re not talking about a burglar who’s been hiding in the basement for years (but we will hold on if you want to go check on that).
Protecting your home from fire, smoke, and carbon monoxide doesn’t require superpowers, but it does need to be a high priority. Did you know that in 2013 there were 369,500 residential fires?1 These statistics show that many people don’t take the proper precaution to protect themselves, their home, and their loved ones.
How many residential fires occurred in 2013?
Facts About Fire
Among the number of people who experienced a residential fire in 2013, 12,200 injuries were sustained and there was a reported $6.8 billion dollars in property damage.1 Grim facts indeed, but read on to discover ways to avoid becoming another statistic.
True or False: Residential fires caused 6.8 billion dollars in property damage in 2013.
Where There’s Smoke…
First and foremost, take a look around your home for smoke detectors. How many do you have, and when was the last time you tested them? The National Fire Protection Association recommends that homes should have smoke alarms in every bedroom, outside each sleeping area and on every level of the home, including the basement.1 Having adequate numbers of working smoke detectors gives you time to react and can make all the difference between a small fire you can quickly extinguish or a full-blown house fire.
The advent of smarter home technology has made smoke detectors even more effective. Now, instead of having to be home to hear the smoke alarm, you can see warnings pop up on your smart phone if smoke is detected. Additionally, many smart detectors can be connected and remotely monitored by a 24-hour monitoring service provider. If the alarm goes off, first responders will be sent to your home to manage the situation and ensure your safety.
How many smoke detectors should you have in your home?
It’s easy to overlook maintenance of smoke detectors, but the bottom line is 60 percent of house fire deaths occur in homes with no working smoke alarms.1 Simple maintenance can help you avoid being one of those victims.
What percentage of house fire deaths occur in homes with no working smoke alarms?
This is a Test
Smoke detectors last a fairly long time, but they can fail or their batteries can expire. The American Red Cross recommends that you test your smoke alarms once a month.1 Whether you decide to upgrade your detectors or just replace the batteries in existing alarms, regular maintenance is vital.
Lastly, it’s recommended to have working fire extinguishers in your home. They can absolutely save lives in the event of a small fire, but it is important to know when they won’t do the trick. Fires tends to grow and spread rapidly, so your number one priority is to get yourself and others out safely.
How often should you test your smoke alarms?
Recipie for Disaster
From washing machines overloads to poorly placed candles, there are many ways in which a fire can occur in your home. However, there’s one cause that trumps all others: cooking equipment.
Cooking equipment accounted for 45% of all house fires from 2009–2013.1 In fact, US fire departments respond to an average of 162,400 cooking equipment related fires every year.2 What can be done to maintain a safer food preparation space for you and your family?
Cooking equipment caused what percentage of all house fires from 2009-2013?
Cook Meals, Not Houses
First off, it is imperative that you stay in your kitchen whenever anything is cooking; don’t get distracted by something on TV in the next room or by your dog needing to be walked. Pay particular attention when you are frying, grilling, boiling or broiling food. The oil used in these cooking methods can easily burn and lead to a fire.
Additionally, you should keep anything that could catch fire away from your appliances: oven mitts, cloths, utensils, food packaging, and even curtains. Also, appliances such as microwaves, toaster ovens, mixers, and coffee makers should be unplugged when not in use. These smaller appliances may still be drawing electricity even when they appear to be turned off, so if they have frayed wires or if your home overheats or suffers a power surge, fires can start.
Lastly, with use of slow cookers and crockpots on the rise, “set it and forget it” appliances are causing additional fire concerns. Slow cookers were involved in an estimated average of 150 reported home structure fires per year from 2007-2011.1 This may not seem like a lot, but such fires resulted in $2 million in property damage annually.2 It is important to make sure these appliances are in good working order, don’t have any frayed or broken wires, and aren’t overflowing with hot liquid.
True or False: You don’t need to stay in your kitchen while you’re cooking.
Plan for the Worst
The truth is, despite all of your best efforts, fires can happen even to the most prepared. The average household can expect to see five fires in an average lifetime,1 which is why it’s important for you and your household to have a plan of escape in the event of a fire. Fire experts agree that people have as little as 2 minutes to escape a burning building2 before it’s too late. The key to fast action is to get everyone on the same page: choose a meeting place, pre-plan your escape routes, and ensure that 911 has been called.
While designing a plan is necessary, it’s still not enough. It is crucial to the safety of your household to practice the plan often. 82% of households have not practiced home fire drills, a startling statistic.3 Take the time to put your plan into action — it could save your life.
What is the number of home fires your household can expect in an average lifetime?
A Concealed Killer
In addition to smoke detectors, your home probably has similar-looking detectors for a completely different threat: carbon monoxide. Carbon monoxide (CO) is a colorless, odorless, tasteless gas that is nearly impossible to detect without a specialized detector. There can be very dangerous consequences for those who don’t have a proper detection system in place. Every year more than 400 Americans die from unintentional CO poisoning1 not linked to fires.
How many Americans die from carbon monoxide poisoning (not linked to fires)?
Coping with CO
Carbon monoxide is created any time you burn fuel in cars or trucks, small engines, stoves, lanterns, fireplaces, gas ranges, etc. It builds up indoors and can poison the people and animals who breathe it.
A major problem with CO is the way your body reacts to CO poisoning. Symptoms include headache, dizziness, weakness, upset stomach, vomiting, chest pain, and confusion – signs which could easily be confused for an ailment like the flu, but which can be deadly if ignored.
To combat the threat of CO poisoning, follow the fire safety model. First and foremost, make sure all of your carbon monoxide detectors are in complete working order. Also, note that there are robust CO detectors on the market these days that can alert you to the presence of CO even when you aren’t home.
Additionally, you should have your heating system, water heater, and any other gas, oil, or coal burning appliances serviced by a qualified technician every year1. These maintenance checks will make sure there aren’t any leaks. Coupling these yearly checks with updated and working carbon monoxide detectors is your best fight against a potentially fatal situation.
Carbon monoxide (CO) is produced by what kind of devices?
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(Correct answers are green)
- How many residential fires occurred in 2013?
- 366,500—This number, while startling, can be reduced by following the tips outlined in this quiz. Take the proper precautions and stay safe!
- True or False: There was 6.8 billion dollars in property damage related to residential fires in 2013.
- True—Fire can completely destroy your property in minutes. It should be no surprise that billions of dollars are lost annually in residential fires.
- How many smoke detectors should you have in your home?
- One in every bedroom
- One outside each sleeping area
- One on every floor, including the basement
- All of the above—For example, a two-story three-bedroom house should have a minimum of five smoke detectors.
- What percentage of house fire deaths occur in homes with no working smoke alarms?
- 60%—This number reflects the importance of having multiple working smoke alarms in your home at ALL times.
- How often should you test your smoke alarms?
- Once a month—It only takes a few minutes every month to test your alarms and replace them accordingly.
- Once every two months
- Once a decade
- Cooking equipment caused what percentage of all house fires from 2009-2013?
- 45—The kitchen can be a dangerous place for fire. Check your appliances regularly and make sure you have a working smoke alarm in your cooking space.
- True or False: You don’t need to stay in your kitchen while you’re cooking.
- False—As tempting as it is to wander away while you’re waiting for the water to boil, many house fires occur from an unattended kitchen device. Being there could make all the difference in the world.
- What is the number of home fires your household can expect in an average lifetime?
- 5—These fires could range from a mild flare up to an all-out inferno. Take the proper precautions to make sure you are prepared for whatever happens.
- How many Americans die from carbon monoxide poisoning (not linked to fires)?
- Less than 150
- More than 400—Since carbon monoxide can be nearly impossible to detect without working detectors, it’s important to have them fully operational at all times.
- Carbon monoxide (CO) is produced by what kind of devices?
- Gas Ranges
- All of the above—Carbon monoxide is produced by anything that burns fuel; it’s important to get your home checked for CO leaks on a yearly basis.