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Fire Safety

Submitted by Lorene Bartos, UNL Extension Educator

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Do you have at least two ways to escape from your home incase of fire? October is Fire Safety Month. Statistics show approximately 80% of all fire deaths are a result of home fires. Has your family practiced their fire escape plan recently? If you do not have a plan now is a good time to make one. Simply draw out the fastest and safest routes from all areas of the home and then do a trial run. Hopefully, most families will never have to use their plan but being prepared is essential.

Statistics from the National Fire Protection Association tell us:

  • U.S. fire departments responded to an estimated 1,389,500 fires.
  • There was a civilian fire death every 208 minutes and a civilian fire injury every 30 minutes in 2011.
  • One home fire was reported every 85 seconds.
  • Cooking has been the leading cause of reported home fires and home fire injuries since 1990. Unattended cooking was by far the leading cause of these fires. Two-thirds of home cooking fires began with ignition of cooking materials, including food, cooking oil, fat, or grease. Cooking caused two of every five (42%) reported home fires, roughly one of every seven (15%) home fire deaths, and two of every five (37% ) home fire injuries, and 11% of direct property damage from home fires in 2010.
  • Candles caused 3% reported home fires. More than half (55%) of home candle fires occurred when some form of combustible material was left too close to the candle.
  • Smoking materials caused one out of every four home fires.
  • Fires in electrical systems or lighting equipment have caused damage to more than 24,000 homes.

Follow these simple suggestions so your family is not one of the statistics:

  • Install a smoke alarm. A smoke alarm should be placed on every level of the home and outside bedrooms.
  • Check smoke alarms monthly and change the batteries yearly. Most alarms installed today have a life span of about 8 to 10 years. After that time the entire unit should be replaced. It is a good idea to write the date of purchase on the inside of the alarm, so you will know when to replace it.Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for replacement.
  • Clean your smoke alarm by cleaning over and around it occasionally. Dust and debris can hinder its operation.
  • Have a fire extinguisher in a handy place in your home. Teach family member how to use it in case of emergency. Be sure the extinguisher is in working order.
  • Check you home owners insurance policy to see your coverage is up-to-date for your home and furnishings.
  • Use caution when burning candles. Keep candles away from items that can catch fire. Put out all candles when leaving home or going to bed. Never leave candles unattended.
  • Be sure all smoking materials are completely out and don’t smoke in bed. Careless smoking is the second leading cause of fire deaths.
  • Keep all lighters and matches out of the reach of children. Children playing with lighters and matches are a major cause of home fires.
  • Develop a fire escape plan and practice it.
  • Post emergency numbers by your home phone. Also program the numbers in all cell phones.

As the holidays approach remember to keep safety at the top of the list as you decorate and entertain. Check all holiday lights for frayed wiring before using.

Is your family prepared for the unexpected disaster such as fire? Now is the time to review and practice your plan. Have a safe fall and holiday season.


Ask Lorene

(This resource was updated October 2011 and appeared in the Lincoln Journal Star Newspaper Sunday edition. For information on reproducing this article or using any photographs or graphics, read the Terms of Use statement)

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University of Nebraska-Lincoln in Lancaster County
Web site: lancaster.unl.edu
444 Cherrycreek Road, Suite A, Lincoln, NE 68528 | 402-441-7180