Did you know that Fire Prevention Week was established to commemorate the Great Chicago Fire? The tragic 1871 fire killed more than 250 people, left 100,000 homeless, destroyed more than 17,400 structures and burned more than 2,000 acres. That all started from just one fire, but in 2014 there were 1,298,000 fires reported in the U.S. These fires caused 3,275 civilian deaths, 15,775 civilian injuries, and $11.6 billion in property damage. In the U.S. in 2014 (on average), a fire department responded to a fire every 24 seconds. One home structure fire was reported every 85 seconds. One civilian fire death occurred every 2 hours and 41 minutes. Today, roughly half of home fire deaths result from fires that start when most people are sleeping. Simply having working fire alarms cuts the chances of dying in a fire in half! It’s recommended that homeowners install smoke alarms in every bedroom, in hallways (especially outside bedrooms), and include every level of a home. Don’t forget areas like basements, attics and utility rooms. Heating equipment malfunction is the second leading cause of home fire deaths. The U.S. Fire Administration offers the following safety tips:
1. Maintain heating equipment and chimneys by having them cleaned and inspected annually be a qualified professional.
2. Use heating equipment that has the label of a recognized testing laboratory.
3. All heaters need space (especially space heaters) keep anything that can burn at least three feet away from heating equipment.
4. Plug space heaters directly into outlets and never into an extension cord or power strip.
5. Install and maintain carbon monoxide (CO) alarms inside a home to provide early warning of CO.