Residential structure fires take a huge toll in the United States every year. There were over 387,000 residential fires in 2013 resulting in more than 2700 deaths and $7 billion in damage.
According to the National Fire Protection Association, the three biggest causes of residential fires are electrical, smoking and cooking. The NFPA offers the following tips for successful residential fire prevention:
*Conduct periodic electrical inspections by a qualified, licensed electrician. A full electrical inspection should be conducted before purchasing a home. This should be followed up by a qualified inspection every 10 years. Obviously, anything faulty should be replaced.
*Even though many people have quit smoking, smoking is still one of the top causes of residential fires in the United States. Consider making your home a smoke free building. Anyone who must smoke should be required to smoke outside. Be sure and provide a proper means of disposal of cigarette butts and ashes to prevent an outdoor fire.
*Cooking accidents cause many fires and a grease fire can be hard to manage and can get out of hand quickly. If a grease fire occurs, while it’s still small the best defense is to quickly place a lid over the fire. DO NOT throw water or flour on a grease fire! This is ineffective, dangerous and may explosively extend the fire. A wet towel thrown over the grease fire can be effective as well as baking soda. Consider purchasing a Class B Dry Chemical Fire Extinguisher, but this method should be your last resort as a fire extinguisher will contaminate your kitchen.
There are several kitchen fire prevention devices available now on the market that could be considered:
-Motion Detector Stove Shut off
If no one moves around in the kitchen for a protracted period of time, the detector will shut off the stove, in case a cooking task has been left unattended.
-Cooking Surface Detector
This device determines an excessive heat temperature on the stove and shuts off the stove
-Automatic Fire Extinguishers
Residences can be equipped with automatic fire extinguishers much like commercial kitchens have.
Take a look at your home with these main fire causes in mind and consider implementing some or all of these measures to prevent a residential fire. Last, but by no means least, install multiple smoke detectors throughout your home and keep fresh batteries in them. The first few minutes during a home fire are by far the most critical for the purpose of getting everyone out of the home. Practice fire drills, including rolling out of bed, crawling on a chosen path to escape and then meeting a predetermined location after escape. Houses can be rebuilt and possessions replaced, but the lives of our loved ones cannot be replaced.