Everything You Need to Know This National Fire Prevention Month

Everything You Need to Know This National Fire Prevention Month

October marks the beginning of National Fire Prevention Month, and it’s the perfect time to focus on protecting your home from house fires. When the weather starts to chill, the heat goes on, and people begin to do more indoor activities. It’s candle lighting, fireplace starting, comfort food cooking month– all the activities that can start home fires when things go wrong.

This year is also the 100th anniversary of National Fire Prevention Week, starting October 9 to October 15. In 1922, the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) dedicated the second week of October to Fire Prevention in honor of the Great Chicago Fire in 1871. Today, we continue to recognize this essential safety week and have expanded awareness throughout the month.

This National Fire Prevention Week and Month, help protect your loved ones by planning ahead. Learn about the most common causes of house fires and steps you can take to prevent these tragedies in your home and community this season.

House Fire Statistics in the United States

In 2021, local fire departments responded to over 1.35 million fires, according to a study by the NFPA– an average of 1 fire every 23 seconds. Sadly, these tragedies resulted in 3,800 deaths and 14,700 injuries.

While only 25% of fires last year occurred at residential properties, home structure fires were responsible for 75% of all fire-related fatalities and 76% of all fire-related injuries.

5 Causes of Home Structure Fires

From 2015-2019, the NFPA conducted a five-year study on home structure fires. Researchers found that among all fires that resulted in injuries or fatalities, one of five main factors was the cause: 

  1. Cooking
  2. Heating Equipment
  3. Electrical Distribution/Lighting Equipment
  4. Intentional Fire Setting
  5. Smoking Materials

Cooking was consistently the leading cause of home structure fires and fire-related injuries in the five-year study; Smoking resulted in the most fire-related fatalities. It also showed that most victims of home fires were killed or injured while escaping, sleeping, or were unable to act during the emergency.

Fire Safety Trends

Only half of Fire Prevention Week/Month focuses on preventing fires– the other crucial part is being prepared for them when they happen.

You must prepare to react when a fire occurs in your home. Unfortunately, the NFPA studies show that many people have minimal to no fire prevention plans for their homes. Here are the scary facts:

  • 60% of Americans do not test their smoke or CO alarms monthly.
  • 3 in every 5 fire fatalities occur in homes without working smoke detectors.
  • Only 47% of Americans have installed CO alarms.
  • Less than 50% of American homeowners create a home escape plan.

No one wants to encounter a fire, but that doesn’t mean you should avoid preparing for one. There are several safety steps you should be taking throughout the year to ensure your family knows how to react when a fire occurs.

Install Smoke Detectors

Smoke alarms save lives. They are the first alarm to notify you that a fire may be present in your home and are crucial for alerting families at night when everyone is asleep.

Place a smoke alarm on every level and in every bedroom of your home. Check them monthly, testing the batteries to ensure they are in working condition. You can choose October as your annual time to change the batteries if you like; some people like to pair this task with Daylight Saving Time when they change the batteries in their clocks.

Install CO Detectors

Carbon Monoxide (CO) poisoning is the #1 cause of accidental poisoning and can be found in the smoke that emits from house fires. CO can also enter your home through blocked or malfunctioning furnaces, gas-powered appliances, and poorly vented fireplaces.

Make sure you install and check CO detectors in the same manner as smoke alarms, on every level, and in every room. For more information on where to install CO and smoke alarms, these First Alert diagrams can help.

Invest in Fire Extinguishers

Home fire extinguishers can help control small fires before they get out of hand and give you a last-ditch effort to escape when a fire is out of control. Fire Alert recommends placing fire extinguishers on every level of the house, plus the kitchen and garage.

Create a Fire Escape Plan

Knowing your family and loved ones know what to do during a house fire will give you peace of mind when a fire occurs. Create a Fire Escape Plan unique to your residence with information such as identifying all escape routes, knowing what to do when a smoke alarm goes off, knowing where the fire extinguishers are, and establishing a meeting spot outdoors. NFPA provides a free Fire Escape Plan template to help you get started.

How to Participate in Fire Prevention Month and Week

While National Fire Prevention Month runs throughout October, additional special events are held during National Fire Prevention Week, falling this year from October 9 to October 15th.

Here are just a few ways you can participate:

  • Activities and Apps: Teach children about fire prevention with fun activities like mazes, word searches, and more. For kids who love their tech, several games and apps are available that cover fire prevention topics too. 
  • Resources: Print NFPA resources to leave with local businesses and friend groups or to pass out in your community to spread awareness.
  • Safety Tip Sheets: NFPA has quick-look safety tip sheets perfect for leaving at the grocery store, libraries, or in the lunch room at work for people to grab and learn.
  • Videos: Play videos for your loved ones, workers, or in the classroom for more ways to cover fire prevention tactics. There are ones for adults and kids!
  • Social Media: We all love spreading the word about what we’re passionate about on social media. Head to the NFPA’s page to grab some fire safety media you can use on your personal or business accounts!

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