Consider the following non-residential fire statistics for the five years from 2006 through 2010 as published by the United States Fire Administration—a division within the Federal Emergency Management Agency (http://www.usfa.fema.gov/statistics/estimates/index.shtm):
• There were 1,879,500 fires
• 12,940 people died in those fires
• 65,050 people were injured in those fires
• The fires caused almost $37 billion worth of damage
Statistics like that mean that every family needs to develop a personal fire safety plan as part of a comprehensive home security system.A fire safety plan might include the following:
- Smoke alarm - One of these devices should be installed in every room of your home.
- Fire Escape- What would you do if you actually had a fire in your home? Do you know how to react? Do your family members? Create and rehearse a family fire escape plan. Let everyone hear the way the smoke alarms sound. Make sure everyone knows where the fire extinguishers are. Practice traveling the exit routes from all points of your home. For example, if you live in a multi-level structure, make sure any usable windows and doors on each level are designated as exit points. Decide on a place where the family can regroup away from the home.
- Safety Methods- Teach your family fire safely techniques such as crawling to avoid smoke, wrapping yourself with wet towels, testing for heat on doorknobs prior to opening them and what to do if your clothing catches fire (drop and roll).
- Fire Hazards- Appliances such as ovens, toasters, water heaters and so on can become fire hazards if not maintained adequately. Make sure that potential fire hazards are cleaned and checked regularly.
- Wiring- Have a trained electrician inspect your home to make sure the wiring is in good condition. If not, make sure to make repairs promptly.
Holiday Fire Safety Tips
According to the USFA about 390 fires per year resulting in 21 deaths and $25.2 million in property damage involve Christmas trees and holiday lights. So, you need to be more vigilant because of the extra items that will probably be in your home.
If selecting a real tree, the trunk should be slightly sticky to the touch. If you bounce the trees and a lot of needles fall off, it is probably dried out and is a fire hazard. Cut about a half inch to an inch from the bottom of the tree before putting it in the stand. This will help the tree absorb the water. Keep the tree stand filled with water at all times.
If you have a natural tree, especially, do not place it close to a heating vent or an actively used fireplace. The heat will dry out the tree making it easy to accidentally ignite.
Any decorations you buy should be non-flammable. Use only lighting that has been approved by an approved testing laboratory. Heat should be absent when you feel the wiring.
Do not block any exits with the tree or decorations and never throw wrapping paper into a fireplace. The paper can cause a very large fire that throws off dangerous sparks and embers.