Did you know that many people don’t test their smoke alarms as often as they should? Smoke alarms are a key part of a home fire escape plan. When there is a fire, smoke spreads fast. You need working smoke alarms to give you early warning so you can get outside quickly.
Facts About Home Fires
- According to the National Fire Protection Association, in 2011, U.S. fire departments responded to 370,000 home structure fires. These fires caused 13,910 civilian injuries, 2,520 civilian deaths, and $6.9 billion in direct damage.
- On average, seven people died in U.S. home fires per day from 2007 to 2011.
- Cooking is the leading cause of home fires and home fire injuries, followed by heating equipment.
- Smoking is the leading cause of civilian home fire deaths.
- Most fatal fires kill one or two people. In 2012, eight home fires killed five or more people resulting in a total of 44 deaths.
- Almost three of five (60%) of reported home fire deaths throughout the U.S. from 2007 to 2011 resulted from fires in homes with no smoke alarms or no working smoke alarms.
- Working smoke alarms cut the risk of dying in reported home fires in half.
- In fires considered large enough to activate the smoke alarm, hardwired alarms operated 93% of the time, while battery powered alarms operated only 79% of the time.
- When smoke alarms fail to operate, it is usually because batteries are missing, disconnected, or dead.
- An ionization smoke alarm is generally more responsive to flaming fires and a photoelectric smoke alarm is generally more responsive to smoldering fires. For the best protection, or where extra time is needed, to awaken or assist others, both types of alarms, or combination ionization and photoelectric alarms are recommended.
- Install smoke alarms inside and outside each bedroom and sleeping area. Install alarms on every level of the home, including in the basement.
- Large homes may need extra smoke alarms.
- It is best to use interconnected smoke alarms. When one smoke alarm sounds, they all sound.
- Test all smoke alarms at least once a month. Press the test button to be sure the alarm is working.
- A smoke alarm should be on the ceiling or high on a wall. Keep smoke alarms away from the kitchen to reduce false alarms. They should be at least ten feet from the stove.
- People who are hard-of-hearing or deaf can use special alarms. These alarms have strobe lights and bed shakers.
- Replace all smoke alarms when they are ten years old.
E.S.C.A.P.E. Fire & Safety, State Fire Marshal Richard Miller, and your local fire department remind you to plan ahead! If a fire breaks out in your home, you may have only a few minutes to get out safely once the smoke alarm sounds. Everyone needs to know what to do and where to go including the location of the meeting place once outside.