In the U.S., a house catches on fire every 45 seconds. The devastating effects of rapid fires hit homes both emotionally and financially. In fact, Ready.gov reports that direct property loss due to home fires is estimated at $7.3 billion annually. According to the National Studies of Fire Departments, 80% of all civilian deaths from fires occur in the home. The high rates are usually a result of gases and fumes that you can’t smell. Although many house fires are preventable, the smells won’t wake you if you are asleep and thus leaving you vulnerable.
Another contributing factor is the quick rate at which house fires can escalate. The heat from a house fire can reach over 1100 degrees Fahrenheit in only 3 ½ minutes. Additionally, it only takes 4 minutes for the smoke from a house fire to become so thick that your house would be completely dark—even with the lights on.
Thankfully, there are simple solutions and easy changes you can make to protect your home and to stay prepared. Smoke alarms are the best defense against house fires. A working smoke detector can more than double one’s chance of surviving a fire. Because you smell most gases and fumes a smoke alarm is the tried and true way to be awakened and alerted of danger.
1. Faulty appliances and wiring cause the great number of house fires. Make sure to do a full inspection of your home’s appliances. Replace any items with questionable wires and remove them from any dangerous locations.
2. Never use the range or oven to heat your home. The use of ovens to heat the home can lead to dangerous fumes and gases being emitted. These fumes have an undetectable scent which makes it difficult to protect yourself against before it’s too late. Stick to central heating systems in order to keep your home at a comfortable temperature.
3. Cigarettes are a leading cause of house fires. The best way to prevent a house fire from cigarettes is to not smoke by furniture like beds, sofas or chairs, especially before bed. Most often the fires start when a cigarette was dropped on to these furniture pieces.
4. Keep combustible and flammable liquids away from heat sources.
5. Use extreme caution around heating devices. Heaters, wood stoves and fireplaces are leading causes of house fires. Fires tend to start when furniture, boxes or clothing is placed too close to these heat sources, thus, overheating and igniting.
6. Always install a smoke alarm just outside the sleeping areas. Two out of three people who die in house fires were asleep when the fire began. The sound of the fire alarm can save lives when a fire occurs at night.
7. Avoid using lighted candles. They’re wonderful for decor but they can be a dangerous addition to your home. If you do light them, keep them safely away from flammable furniture.
8. Replace mattresses made before the 2007 Federal Mattress Flammability Standard. Since 2007, mattresses have been required by to law to be made safer.
9. Never place a portable generator inside your home. Also, they should only be refueled outdoors or in well-ventilated areas.
10. Keep your kitchen and appliances free of grease build-up. Cooking fires are common, especially if food cooking is left unattended on the stovetop.