On average, U.S. fire departments responded to:
A fire every 23 seconds
A structure fire every 63 seconds
A home fire every 86 seconds
An outside or unclassified fire every 52 seconds
A highway vehicle fire every 181 seconds
On average, fire claims nine lives every day
Fact Sheet, National Fire Protection Association (NFPA)
In 2015, there were more than 1.3 million fires in the U.S., resulting in the deaths of 3,280 private citizens. More than 68 thousand firefighters were injured, 68 of them fatally. Many of these fires could have easily been avoided with simple precautions and foresight.
Common Fire Hazards
The first step in prevention is to be aware of the circumstances that most often lead to fires. Some of the most common fire hazards include:
Cooking – according to the NFPA, “cooking is the leading cause of home fires and home fire injuries and is tied for the second leading cause of home fire deaths.” These fires tend to happen while frying or when cooking is left unattended. Keep paper towels, pot holders, cookbooks and other combustible materials away from burners and never leave to check your favorite website while something is cooking on the stove or in the oven.
Candles – everyone loves the glow of candlelight, but candles are a major cause of home fires. They often start due to being left too close to flammable items, left unattended or accidently knocked over or being brushed against by a dog or cat. When you leave the room, blow out the candles.
Smoking – smoking was the leading cause of home fire deaths for decades, but the number has been coming down, mainly due to less people smoking. For those who do continue to smoke, never do so in bed, when overly tired or anywhere in the vicinity of medical equipment or oxygen.
Clothes dryers – dryers contain a heating element, and it should not come as such a surprise that they carry a significant potential for starting fires. It is important to consistently clean the lint trap, as well as the vent pipe and area where the screen is housed. Always keep combustible materials away from the dryer.
Children playing with fire – children start more than 7,000 home fires a year, per the NFPA. They should not have access to matches, lighters and other ignition sources and should be taught fire safety as early as possible.
Electrical – electrical fires can be due to a variety of reasons, such as equipment malfunction, overloaded circuits, damaged cords, overheated light bulbs, space heaters and other appliances and causes. Make sure to replace frayed cords and damaged plugs. Never run wires under rugs or furniture, and think twice about do-it-yourself electrical projects.
Flammable liquids – fuels, cleaning supplies, solvents, paint and dozens of other liquids stored under kitchen and bathroom sinks, as well as stacked and stored in closets and garages, can ignite from a simple spark or even excessive heat. Store outside the home in a cool, well-ventilated environment.
Lightning strikes are another cause of fires, but there is little that can be done other than to minimize damage by unplugging electrical equipment and using surge protectors, which may or may not provide protection. For all of the other common fire hazards listed here, just a few moments of awareness and being proactive can make all the difference.
If you would like to learn more about fire safety, please check out the following video: