- One home structure fire was reported every 85 seconds in 2010.
- Most fatal fires kill one or two people. In 2010, 19 home fires killed five or more people. These 19 fires resulted in 101 deaths.
- In 2010, U.S. fire departments responded to 369,500 home structure fires. These fires caused 13,350 civilian injuries, 2,640 civilian deaths, and $6.9 billion in direct damage.
According to an NFPA survey, less than one-fourth of Americans have both developed and practiced a home fire escape plan (PDF, 640 KB). Almost three-quarters of Americans do have an escape plan; however, less than half actually practiced it. One-third of Americans households who made and estimate they thought they would have at least 6 minutes before a fire in their home would become life threatening. The time available is often less. And only 8% said their first thought on hearing a smoke alarm would be to get out!
Roughly two-thirds of home fire deaths happen in homes with no smoke alarms or no working smoke alarms. About one in five smoke alarm failures was due to dead batteries. Working smoke alarms cut the risk of dying in reported home fires in half. In fires considered large enough to activate the smoke alarm, hardwired alarms operated 91% of the time, while battery powered alarms operated only 75% of the time.
Carbon Monoxide Poisoning
Often called the silent killer, carbon monoxide is an invisible, odorless, colorless gas created when fuels (such as gasoline, wood, coal, natural gas, propane, oil, and methane) burn incompletely. In the home, heating and cooking equipment that burn fuel are potential sources of carbon monoxide. Vehicles or generators running in an attached garage can also produce dangerous levels of carbon monoxide. CO alarms should be installed in a central location outside each sleeping area and on every level of the home.
Cooking equipment is the leading cause of home structure fires and associated injuries, and was tied for the third leading cause of home fire deaths. Unattended cooking was by far the leading cause of these fires. Households using electric ranges have a higher risk of fires than those using gas ranges. Children under five face a higher risk of non-fire burns associated with cooking than being burned in a cooking fire. Nearly half (45%) of microwave oven injuries seen at emergency rooms in 2009 were scalds.
Fires involving heating equipment peak in December, January and February, as do deaths from these fires. Overall, homes fires and home fire deaths are also more common in the cooler months of the year. Heating equipment was the second leading cause of all reported home fires and home fire deaths.
The leading factor contributing to heating equipment fires was failure to clean, principally creosote from solid fueled heating equipment, primarily chimneys. Half of home heating fire deaths resulted from fires caused by heating equipment too close to things that can burn, such as upholstered furniture, clothing, mattresses or bedding.
The risk of dying in a home structure fire caused by smoking materials rises with age. In recent years, Canada and the United States have required that all cigarettes sold must be “fire safe,” that is have reduced ignition strength and less likely to start fires.
On average, there are 35 home candle fires reported per day. Roughly two-fifths of these fires started in the bedroom. More than half of all candle fires start when things that can burn are too close to the candle. Follow these candle safety tips.
Home Fire Sprinklers
Automatic fire sprinkler systems cut the risk of dying in a home fire by about 80%. Home fire sprinklers can contain and may even extinguish a fire in less time than it would take the fire department to arrive on the scene. Sprinklers are highly effective because they react so quickly in a fire. They reduce the risk of death or injury from a fire because they dramatically reduce the heat, flames and smoke produced, allowing people time to evacuate the home.
All Safety Tips Documents
"Reproduced from NFPA's Fire Prevention Week website, www.firepreventionweek.org. ©2012 NFPA."
Last updated: 11/2/2012 9:16:55 AM