Smoke Alarms Dramatically Reduce Fatalities
Working smoke alarms cut the chances of dying in a house fire in half – but only if they're fully operational.
According to the
National Fire Protection Agency, smoke alarms have a life of 10 years. While most people are conditioned to change the batteries in their smoke alarms twice a year, NFPA survey data indicates few people know how old their alarm is or how often it needs to be replaced.
The theme for this year's Fire Prevention Week, Oct. 9-15, is "Don't Wait – Check the Date." To find out how old a smoke alarm is, look at the date of manufacture on the back of the alarm. If it's been 10 years, it's time to invest in a new one.
Call to Action for Families from NSC and Nationwide
A home fire is reported every 86 seconds. Despite this threat, families rarely practice home fire drills, and nearly half of parents report their children do not know what to do in the event of a fire, according to the
Nationwide Make Safe Happen program.
That's why the National Safety Council and Nationwide will launch a new safety observance,
Home Fire Drill Day, on Oct. 15, 2016. Families across the U.S. are encouraged to practice home fire drills and take advantage of tools and resources offered at
- Step-by-step instructions for doing a home fire drill
- Games to make the experience memorable for kids
- Worksheet to help you draw a floor plan of your home
- Video of a fire drill in action
- Family pledge to practice a home fire drill twice a year
- Downloadable fire safety resources to share with friends and family
- Link to download the free Make Safe Happen mobile app that puts home fire drill instructions, including a drill timer, in the palm of your hand
To participate in Home Fire Drill Day, practice as a family, take the pledge and encourage others to take the pledge. And be sure to spread the word on social media using #homefiredrillday.
Fire a Leading Cause of Death for Kids
he past several decades, deaths from home structure fires in the United States have steadily gone down – from 5,200 in 1980 to 2,755 in 2013, according to
Injury Facts 2016®.
But even one death from a preventable fire is too many. While fire doesn't discriminate by age, it is the third leading cause of death for children ages 2 to 14. In 2013, 202 children in this age group died from fire and smoke inhalation.
As we look at the causes of home structure fires – smoking, heating equipment, electricity – all major causes have decreased, except for one. Candle-related fires are up 125%. Most deaths from fire occurred during the fall and winter months, which includes the candle-heavy holiday season.
NSC provides the following tips to keep your home safe from fire:
both types of smoke alarms (ionization and photoelectric) and carbon monoxide alarms; change the batteries at least once a year in these devices
Plan – and practice – an escape route and agree on a meeting place outside of your home; be prepared to assist young children, family members with special needs and pets
Know two ways out of every room in the home
- Learn how to use your fire extinguisher
- If your clothes catch on fire, stop, drop and roll
- When evacuating, if door handles are hot, pick an alternate route; learn two ways out of every room
- Leave your house and call for help; do not go back to help someone else
Extra Precautions to Keep Children Safe
U.S. Fire Administration offers these tips to keep children safe from fire and burns:
- Keep children 3 feet away from anything hot, like candles, space heaters and stove-tops
- Keep smoking materials locked up in a high place; never leave cigarette lighters or matches where children can reach them
- Never play with lighters or matches when you are with your children; they may try to imitate you
Resources for Public Educators
NFPA offers lots of information and tools to help teachers
bring fire safety to the classroom.