The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) and the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) urge consumers to take time during Fire Prevention Week to check their homes for fire risks and to develop and practice a family escape plan.
CPSC estimates an annual average of more than 386,000 unintentional residential fires (pdf), nearly 2,400 deaths and more the 12,500 injuries each year from 2006 through 2008.
Build layers of fire safety in your home, said CPSC Chairman Inez Tenenbaum. Install smoke alarms on every floor and in every bedroom. If you already have smoke alarms, make sure they are working. Smoke alarms provide early warning of a potentially deadly fire and can reduce the risk of dying from fire in your home by almost half.
Planning a home fire escape is an essential part of being prepared to act and get out quickly if a fire occurs, said NFPA President James M. Shannon. Develop a fire escape plan that identifies two ways out of every room and a family meeting place outside. Practice your plan at least twice a year.
Safe practices, such as the following, are the first line of defense in preventing a fire in your home:
Install smoke alarms A smoke alarm (pdf) should be installed on every level of the home, outside sleeping areas and inside bedrooms. When it comes to surviving a fire, a smoke alarm is critical for early detection of a fire and can mean the difference between life and death. About two-thirds of fire deaths occur in homes with no smoke alarms or smoke alarms that don't work.
- Install both ionization and photoelectric smoke alarms. Alarms should have battery backup. Consider installing interconnected smoke alarms because when one sounds, they all sound throughout the home.
- Heating and cooling equipment accounted for the second-largest percentage of home fires from 2006 through 2008. CPSC estimates an annual average of nearly 57,000 fires and 220 deaths during that time period. Fireplaces and chimneys represented the majority of those fires with an annual average of nearly 27,000 from 2006 through 2008.
- Check the ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs) (pdf) in your home to make sure they're working. GFCIs can prevent electrocution. CPSC recommends installing GFCIs in the kitchen, bathrooms and other areas where the risk of electric shock is higher.
- Install arc fault circuit interrupters (AFCIs). AFCIs are designed to protect against fires caused by arcing faults in a home's electrical wiring.