When people move in to a new home, they are thinking about things such as decorations, landscaping, furniture, etc. The last thing on their minds is the terrible tragedy of losing it all in a home fire. But with a little preparation and care, homeowners can take action to do their best to prevent home fires and have a plan ready should they experience one.
Each year more than 2,500 people die and 12,600 are injured in home fires in the United States, with direct property loss due to home fires estimated at $7.3 billion annually.
Most Common Causes of Home Fires
- Ovens, ranges and related in the kitchen
- Carelessly discarded cigarettes
- Sparks from fireplaces without spark screens or glass doors
- Heating appliances like space heaters that are covered or left close to furniture or other combustibles
TIP: It takes just five minutes for a home to become engulfed in flames, leaving no time to gather belongings or make phones calls. Ready.gov advises homeowners to “GET OUT, STAY OUT and CALL FOR HELP” if there is ever a fire in their home.
Even with the utmost prevention, home fires can still happen. The first thing homeowners need to do is ensure they have properly working smoke detectors throughout the home and a planned escape route they have discussed with all family members. Global working smoke detectors and a planned fire escape can lives.
Real estate agents can share the following safety tips with their clients:
Fire Safety Tips:
- Speak with all household members about a fire escape plan and practice the plan twice a year.
- Test smoke alarms once a month; if they’re not working, change the batteries.
- Install smoke alarms on every level of your home, inside bedrooms and outside sleeping areas.
- Stay in the kitchen when you are frying, grilling or broiling food.
- Don’t leave the oven on or pots on the stove if you are not home.
- Allow 10 feet away from siding and deck railings for barbecue grills.
- Cigarette smokers should smoke outside, extinguish butts in a can filled with sand, and soak in water before throwing out in a trash receptacle.
- Frayed wires can cause fires. Replace all worn, old or damaged appliance cords. Inspect them annually.
- Do not run electrical cords under rugs or furniture.
- Space heaters should have a thermostat and be kept 5 feet from anything combustible.
- Inspect and clean woodstove pipes and chimneys annually and check monthly for damage or obstructions.
- Fireplace screens should be heavy enough to stop a rolling log and large enough to cover the entire opening of the fireplace.
- Fireplace fires and embers should be completely extinguished before leaving the house or going to bed.
- Keep combustible and flammable liquids away from heat sources.
The 2018 wildfire season was the deadliest and most destructive wildfire season on record in California, with a total of 8,527 fires burning an area of 1,893,913 acres.