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Fire Safety Tips

Keep Your Home, Family and Property Safe

  • In 2004, there were 395,500 reported home fires in the United States, resulting in 3,190 deaths, 13,700 injuries and $5.8 billion in direct property damage.
  • In the United States, a home structure fire is reported every 79 seconds, and someone dies from a home fire every 135 minutes.
  • In Canada in 2001, someone was fatally injured in a residential fire roughly every 32 hours.
  • Cooking fires are the No. 1 cause of home fires and home fire injuries.
  • Roughly half of all home fire deaths in the United States resulted from fires that were reported between the hours of 11 p.m. and 7 a.m. But only one-fifth (21%) of home fires occur between those hours. 
  • Although children ages 5 and under make up about 7% of the U.S. population, they accounted for 12% of the home fire deaths, giving them a risk almost twice the national average.
  • Older adults are also at greater risk of dying in a home fire than the population at large. Adults ages 65 and older face a risk twice the average, while people ages 85 and older have a risk that is three-and-a-half times more than average. 
  • About 29% of the home fire deaths in 1999-2002 resulted from fires started by smoking materials, and 19% of the deaths were caused by intentionally set fires.
  • Heating equipment was involved in 11% of the home fire deaths in 1999-2002.  About 57% of home heating fire deaths resulted from fires in December, January or February.
  • Heating equipment is the second most common cause of home fires after cooking equipment. Between 1999 and 2002, heating equipment caused an average of 59,000 home fires each year, resulting in 360 deaths and 1,290 injuries annually.
  • Fireplaces or chimneys rank No. 1 in the number of fires among types of heating equipment. Most of these were caused by creosote buildup.
  • Portable and fixed space heaters, including wood stoves, caused a disproportionate share of the home heating fire deaths. Space heaters were involved in 25% of the home heating fires but 74% of the deaths. 
  • Candle fires account for an estimated 5% of all reported home fires and home fire deaths.
  • In 2002, an estimated 18,000 home fires started by candles were reported to public fire departments. These fires resulted in an estimated 130 civilian deaths, 1,350 civilian injuries and an estimated direct property loss of $333 million.
  • About 40% of U.S. home candle fires begin in the bedroom, causing 30% of the deaths resulting from these fires.
  • Children between ages 5 and 9 are twice as likely to die in a home candle fire as the general population.
  • December has almost twice the number of home candle fires as an average month.
  • Seven out of 10 households in the United States now use candles, with younger adults more likely to use them than older adults.
  • Falling asleep was a factor in 12% of home candle fires and 25% of the home candle fire deaths. 
  • A 2004 U.S. telephone survey found that 96% of the households surveyed had at least one smoke alarm.
  • Roughly half of home fire deaths result from fires in the small percentage of homes with no smoke alarms.
  • Roughly 70% of home fire deaths result from fires in homes with no smoke alarms or no working smoke alarms.
  • Homes with smoke alarms (whether or not they are operational) typically have a death rate that is 40-50% less than the rate for homes without alarms.
  • In one-quarter of the reported fires in homes equipped with smoke alarms, the devices did not work. Households with non-working smoke alarms now outnumber those with no smoke alarms.
  • When smoke alarms fail, it is most often because of missing, disconnected or dead batteries.
  • According to a 2004 NFPA survey, only one in four Americans has devised and practiced a plan to escape from the home during a fire.
  • While 66% of Americans have an escape plan in case of a fire, only 34% of those with a plan have practiced it.
  • Among all Americans, those ages 18 to 24 are least likely to have developed an escape plan.
  • Develop and practice a home fire escape plan.
  • Roughly one of every four U.S. structure fire deaths in 2002 was attributed to smoking materials.
  • The most common material first ignited in home smoking material-related fires was trash or waste, followed by mattresses, bedding and upholstered furniture.
  • Electrical distribution equipment (including wiring, switches, outlets, cords and plugs, fuse and circuit breaker boxes, lighting fixtures and lamps) was the fifth leading cause of home fires and the sixth leading cause of fire deaths in the United States between 1999 and 2002.
  • The most common types of electrical distribution equipment involved in home fires are 1) fixed wiring, 2) lamps or lighting, and 3) cords or plugs.
  • Properly installed and maintained automatic fire sprinkler systems help save lives.
  • When sprinklers are present, the chances of dying in a fire and the average property loss per fire are both cut by one-half to two-thirds, compared to where sprinklers are not present.  
  • Automatic fire sprinklers and smoke alarms together cut your risk of dying in a home fire by 82% when compared to having neither.