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Fire Dangers and Safety Tips

Want some great advice on how to keep your home safe from fire? Just follow these tips and suggestions from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control's Division of Unintentional Injury Prevention:

  • The most common causes of residential fires are cooking and heating equipment. When cooking, never leave food on a stove or in an oven unattended, and avoid wearing clothes with long, loose-fitting sleeves.
  • Smoking is the leading cause of fire deaths and the second most common cause of residential fires. If you are a smoker, do not smoke in bed, never leave burning cigarettes unattended, do not empty smoldering ashes in a trash can, and keep ashtrays away from upholstered furniture and curtains.
  • Keep matches and lighters away from children's reach. Safely store flammable substances used around the home, and never leave burning candles unattended.
  • Install smoke alarms outside each separate sleeping area and on every floor of your home, including the basement. Working smoke alarms can reduce the risk of death in a residential fire by 40 to 50 percent. The CDC suggests smoke alarms with lithium-powered batteries and hush buttons. A lithium-powered battery can last up to 10 years, and a hush button allows you to quickly stop nuisance alarms that are caused by steam, oven smoke, etc.
  • If 10-year, long-life smoke alarms are not available, install smoke alarms that use regular batteries and replace the batteries every year. (A useful tip to help you remember: In the fall, when you change your clocks to standard time, change your batteries!)
  • Test smoke alarms every month to make sure they work properly.
  • Make a family fire escape plan and practice it every six months. In the plan, discuss at least two different ways to get out of every room and designate a safe place in front of the house or apartment building for family members to meet after escaping a fire.

1. Each year in the United States, more than 400,000 residential fires account for approximately 3,600 deaths and 18,600 injuries.

2. Older adults, children younger than 5 years old, and people in lower income groups are at the highest risk for fire- and burn-related deaths.

3. Cooking is the primary cause of residential fires, and smoking is the leading cause of fire deaths.

4. Approximately 59 percent of fatal residential fires occur in homes without smoke alarms.

5. Most residential fires occur during the winter months (December through February).

6. Most of these residential deaths can be prevented.

Sources: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; National Center for Injury Prevention and Control's Division of Unintentional Injury Prevention

All content here, including advice from doctors and other health professionals, should be considered as opinion only. Always seek the direct advice of your own doctor in connection with any questions or issues you may have regarding your own health or the health of others.