October’s observance as Fire Prevention Month just received a local endorsement, with Michigan governor Gretchen Whitmer bringing attention to the effort in a recent press release.
“It is important for Michigan residents to recognize that fires can impact anyone,” the governor said, “and we must all take action to protect ourselves and our families. With…practical and essential preventive measure, people can help avoid fires in their homes and also be better prepared if a fire does occur.”
Specifically, October 4th through the 10th marks National Fire Prevention Week, an annual campaign to spread fire safety awareness and fire prevention best practices that began all the way back in 1925. Given the fact that an estimated seven people die every day from house fires alone, learning and implementing best practices on how to keep your family and home safe is a literal matter of life and death.
The nature of modern house fires
Unfortunately, house fires are not uncommon occurrences. On average, firefighters are dispatched to around 355,400 residential fires every year. 2,560 lives are lost on average to house fires, and $6.5 billion dollars of property are consumed or damaged by smoke and flame.
While the overall instances of home fires have dropped in the last forty years, the use of more flammable synthetic materials means house fires spread far more quickly than ever. It’s estimated that families had 17 minutes to evacuate a burning home several decades ago; now, studies suggest an entire house can go up in flames within three minutes or less. While house fires are happening less often than in the past, they are more deadly than ever before.
Fire prevention tips
Knowing how deadly a house fire can be, it’s of paramount importance to do what you can to prevent a fire from starting in your own home. No house can be completely fireproofed, but there are several simple protocols you and your family can follow to decrease the likelihood of a fire starting in your home and increase your chance of escaping safely if one ever does break out.
Don’t leave your kitchen while you’re cooking.
Studies show that most home fires are cooking-related. In fact, the National Fire Protection Association’s (NFPA) theme for the year is “Serve Up Fire Safety in the Kitchen!” The main concern? Unattended ovens and kitchen stoves are the chief cause of kitchen fires. If you’re boiling water or cooking food on the stovetop, stay in the kitchen until you’re able to turn the burners off. Make sure to set timers when using the oven and never leave your house while something is baking.
Fires can be disorienting and spread within seconds, often cutting off the path to the main exits of a house. Creating an escape plan with your family can help train them to find alternative exits out of the house and establish best practices for surviving a home fire. Designate family members to assist small children or elderly members of the family. Establish a safe spot to meet outside the house post-evacuation and practice your escape plan twice a year.
Sleep with the door closed.
While many children prefer to sleep with the door open, recent research shows that closing bedroom doors can keep fires contained to hallways and other areas of a home. Something as simple as a closed door can prevent a fire from entering a bedroom and can help limit the amount of suffocating smoke that filters into the room from elsewhere in the house.
Don’t smoke inside.
The NFPA estimates that around 18,100 home fires are started by smoking-related materials. Alarmingly, while smoking accounts for 5% of total home fires annually, it’s responsible for 23% of all home fire-related fatalities. If you’re going to smoke, do it a safe distance from your house and be sure to soak all discarded cigarette butts to ensure they cannot reignite.
Practice space heater safety.
An estimated 65,000 house fires annually are caused by heating equipment and a significant amount of those are caused by space heaters. Only use a space heater that is tested by a proper laboratory and follow all the instructions and warnings included with the device. Make it a point to keep your heater at least three feet away from all flammable objects, and never place them on a rug or cabinet that can catch fire. If possible, purchase a space heater that turns off automatically if it tips over.
Check your risks before bed.
The Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs’ MI Prevention effort has found that as many as 50% of fire fatalities occur at night. Fatalities likely increase during night fires because most occupants are asleep when the fires starts and spreads. While locking up for the night, make it a point to check for fire hazards, including still-active heating elements on stovetops, ovens, and space heaters–and don’t forget your lit candles.
Install and maintain smoke detectors.
The NFPA recommends having a smoke detector installed on every floor of your home, inside each bedroom, and outside every sleeping area. This increases the likelihood that every occupant of your home will hear an alarm in the event of the fire, even in a deep sleep. Smoke detectors should be tested once a month and the batteries changed out at least every six months to ensure they will go off in the event of an emergency.
Protect your family with EPS Security
Implementing these preventative measures in your family’s home can go a long way to preventing and protecting yourself from house fires. However, even the most ardent attempts at fire prevention can fall short, which is why having a professionally-installed life safety system in your home is essential in keeping your family and property safe. The benefit of an EPS life safety system isn’t just the reliability of top-of-the-line smoke and CO detectors; at EPS Security, your peace of mind is derived from knowing your system is being monitored 24/7 by trained personnel in our award-winning Monitoring Center. No matter where you are or what you’re doing, you can rest assured that your home is under watch by a company with 65 years of protecting Michigan homes.