Fire Safety & Prevention
Did you know that cooking is the leading cause of home fires in the United States or that the number one cause of death from fire is careless smoking? Heating and arson are the second and third leading causes of both residential fires and fire related deaths. According to the United States Fire Administration:
- Fire kills more Americans than all natural disasters combined.
- Every year more than 5,000 people die in fires, over 25,000 are injured, and direct property loss is estimated at over $9 billion.
- Fortunately, most fire losses can be prevented through effective public education and awareness initiatives.
Where Do Fires Occur?
- 41% were outside fires
- 29% were structure fires (74% of these were residential fires)
- 22% were vehicle fires
- 8% were fires of other types
Where Do Fires Start?
- 23.5% in the kitchen
- 12.7% in the bedroom
- 7.9% in the living room
- 7.1% in the chimney
- 4.7% in the laundry
Is Your Home SAFE?
Take a minute to answer a few simple questions. The results might surprise you.
- Are all electrical cords out from beneath furniture and rugs or carpeting?
- Are cords attached to the walls, baseboards, etc., with nails or staples?
- Are electrical cords in good condition, not frayed or cracked?
- Do extension cords carry more than their proper load?
Electrical cords which run under carpeting may cause a fire. Furniture resting on cords, cords attached by nails or staples, and damaged cords can present fire and shock hazards. Overloaded extension cords may cause fires. Standard 18 gauge extension cords can carry 1250 watts.
- Are any outlets or switches unusually warm or hot to the touch?
- Do all outlets and switches have cover plates, so that no wiring is exposed?
- Are light bulbs the appropriate size and type for the lamp or fixture?
Unusually warm or hot outlets or switches may indicate that an unsafe wiring condition exists. Unplug cords from outlets and do not use these switches until an electrician checks out the wiring. Exposed wiring is a shock hazard. Cover plates should be added over any exposed outlet or switch. Using bulbs with too high a wattage or the wrong type may lead to fire through overheating. Always use the correct type and wattage bulb.
- Do you have properly working smoke detectors?
- Are they properly located?
Many home fire injuries and deaths are caused by smoke and toxic gases, rather than the fire itself. Smoke detectors provide an early warning and can wake you in the event of a fire. Check your smoke detector monthly and replace the batteries at least once a year. Vacuum the grillwork of your smoke detectors. Accumulated dust may make your smoke detector less effective. At least one smoke detector should be placed on every floor of your home. Detectors should be placed near bedrooms on the ceiling or on the wall no more than 6-12 inches below the ceiling. Place away from air vents.
- Are small stoves and heaters placed where they cannot be knocked over, and away from furnishings and flammable materials, such as curtains or rugs?
- Is wood burning equipment installed properly?
- Are chimneys clear from accumulation of leaves and other debris that can clog them?
- Is wood burning equipment cleaned professionally at least once a year?
Heaters can cause fires or serious burns if they are knocked over. Wood burning stoves and inserts should always be installed by a qualified person according to the local building codes. A clogged chimney can cause a poorly burning fire to result in poisonous fumes and smoke coming back into the house. Creosote is a black sticky substance that accumulates on the interior of wood burning equipment as a byproduct of burning wood. If left to accumulate, it can catch fire and can result in a house fire.
- Are towels, curtains, and other things that might catch fire located away from the range?
Placing or storing non-cooking equipment like potholders, dish towels, or plastic utensils on or near the range may result in fires or serious burns.
- Do you ever leave lit candles unattended?
- Are candles placed where they cannot be knocked down or blown over?
Lit candles should never be left unattended. They should always be placed in non-flammable holders where they cannot be knocked down or blown over.
Farm Bureau Insurance offers homeowners insurance policies for owners and renters to protect their living spaces and property from disasters like fire. If you’re interested in a policy that protects against fire damage, please contact a Farm Bureau Insurance agent.