Every three hours in the United States, someone is killed in a fire-related incident. Of those deaths, 85% of them occur in the home, and 37% of the home fire deaths occurred in homes that did not have a smoke alarm. At Mijac Alarm, we take these statistics very seriously, which is why it is our goal this month to make our customers aware of the dangers fire can pose, and how to reduce the risk as much as possible.
Since 85% of fire-related deaths occur in the home, we will start with some of the common causes of home fires, and how you can prevent them from happening to you and your family.
Fireplaces and space heaters
With the cold winter months coming soon, it is perfectly understandable to want to use a fireplace or space heater to keep a particular room warm. Even for those who have centralized heating in their home, using a fireplace or space heater can offer a significantly less expensive alternative, particularly if people in the house are in the same room. After all, there’s no point heating the 80% of the house that no one is in!
However, it is important that robust safety measures are put into place when either of these heating options are used. According to the National Fire Protection Association, heating equipment resulted in 53,600 home structure fires in the United States in 2011, as well as 400 deaths and 1,520 injuries. In total, this easily preventable fire hazard caused 14% of all reported home fires, and resulted in almost a billion dollars in property damage.
Preventing home fires caused by fireplaces or space heaters is simple: All you need to do is make sure nothing flammable is anywhere close to the fireplace or chimney, and make sure they are cleaned and maintained on a regular basis. Of course, you should also only use dry wood (no paper, which can float to a neighboring house as an ember), and make sure any heating devices are turned off before leaving the room or going to sleep.
Old electrical cords and wiring
Just as dangerous as improperly used fireplaces and space heaters is the risk that comes with neglected, old electrical wiring. According to the National Fire Protection Association, old wiring causes more than 50,000 home fires every year, which in turn results in about $1.5 billion in property damage and far too many injuries and deaths.
While fixing this problem is perhaps a little more difficult than fireplace and space heater maintenance, it is just as important. If you have some experience with electrical wiring, you can probably go through your house and replace old wiring in less than a day. If you aren’t that handy when it comes to electrical wiring, an electrician is your best bet. While it will cost some money, the cost is far lower than the possible property damage and injuries that could result if you fail to do so.
One other tip: Replace your circuit breaker with an “arc-fault circuit interrupter”. These simple devices can detect when there is an unsafe spike of electricity, and will automatically shut off power before a fire can start. Arc-fault circuit interrupters can be purchased and most home improvement stores for about $30; a small price to pay to protect you and your family.
Washing machine lint tray
Yes, even your washing machine is out to get you! According to the NFPA, about 16,800 home fires in 2010 involved washing or drying machines. However, only 32% of those were caused by a failure to clean out the lint tray. A full 22% of home fires caused by washing machines occurred due to“unclassified mechanical failures”, while another 8% were caused by electrical failures. These numbers are worthy of concern, and emphasize the fact that even if you take every precaution to prevent fires, they can still occur.
The fact that 37% of home fire deaths occur in homes without a smoke detector, and the fact that some fires simply cannot be prevented, emphasizes the importance of having a smoke detector in every room, especially those that have devices that pose a fire risk (such as a fireplace, space heater, and washing machine). In addition, it is worth considering a Mijac Alarm fire alarm system, so that you can rest easy knowing that you and your family are bring protected by our monitoring station even as you sleep.
For more information about home fire safety, be sure to visit the National Fire Protection Association website by clicking here. For more information about installing a fire alarm in your home or business, please contact Mijac Alarm by calling us during normal business hours at (909)982-7612, or visit our main website by clicking here.