Filed Under:Claims, Catastrophe & Restoration

It's Fire Prevention Week. Here are 6 things you need to know

Stacy Etheridge, step-daughter of Earnest Eberhardt, who she identified as one of six people killed in a house fire, stands at the scene on March 7 in Atlanta. (Photo: David Goldman/AP Photo)
Stacy Etheridge, step-daughter of Earnest Eberhardt, who she identified as one of six people killed in a house fire, stands at the scene on March 7 in Atlanta. (Photo: David Goldman/AP Photo)

The National Fire Protection Association is promoting the theme, "Don’t Wait: Check the Date! Replace Smoke Alarms Every 10 Years" during this year’s Fire Prevention Week campaign, which runs through Saturday.

The focus on smoke alarm replacement comes as the result of a recent survey conducted by NFPA, which showed that only a small percentage of people know how old their smoke alarms are or how often they need to be replaced.

Smoke alarms save lives

According to the NFPA, three of every five home fire deaths in the United States result from fires in homes with no smoke alarms or no working smoke alarms. Almost 40 percent of the fire deaths that occur in the U.S. are in homes with no smoke alarms.

NFPA recommends replacing smoke alarms after 10 years because that is typically the life expectancy of the devices. After 10 years, the sensors in smoke alarms can begin to lose their sensitivity.

Replace smoke alarms every 10 years

Here are easy instructions insurance agents can share with their clients for checking the age of home smoke alarms:

(Click to enlarge.)

Fire Prevention Week 2016 infographice

(Source: www.usfa.fema.gov)

Continue reading for more NFPA and U.S. Fire Administration fire-loss facts and safety tips:

Firefighters look through the wreckage of a house destroyed by a fire

Firefighters look through the wreckage of a house destroyed by a fire in Orange, N.J., March 14. (Photo: Seth Wenig/AP Photo)

1. An average of 7 people die in U.S. home fires every day

  • Cooking equipment was the leading cause of home structure fires and home fire injuries from 2010-2014 (and ties with heating as the second leading cause of home fire deaths).
  • Smoking was the leading cause of civilian home fire deaths.
  • Heating equipment was the second most common cause of home fires, fire deaths (tied with cooking) and fire injuries. 

U.S. fire departments responded to an estimated average of 358,300 home structure fires per year during 2010-2014, which represents three-quarters of all structure fires.

Related: 5 tips for space heater safety

Investigators work the scene of a house fire

Investigators work the scene of a house fire where an Atlanta fire spokesman says six people were killed on March 7 in Atlanta. The six people killed in the blaze were four men and two women, Atlanta Fire Rescue spokesman Cortez Stafford told The Associated Press. (Photo: David Goldman/AP Photo)

2. 501,500 structure fires occurred in the U.S. during 2015

Also, during 2015: 

  • One struture fire was reported every 63 seconds.
  • There was $10.3 billion in property damage from structure fires.
  • One home structure fire was reported every 86 seconds.

firefighters work to contain a single family house fire

In this Aug. 4, 2015, photo provided by the Howard County Department of Fire & Rescue, firefighters work to contain a single family house fire in Marriottsville, Md. High winds, downed trees and wires and lightning is being blamed for the house fire, as severe storms raced through the mid-Atlantic region. (Doug Walton/Howard County Department of Fire & Rescue via AP Photo) 

3. Home fires and deaths in 2015 were half as high as in 1980

Some good news: Estimates of home fires and losses for 2015 show that substantial progress has been made since 1980, the first year in which national estimates of specific fire problems were available. Reported home fires fell from 50 percent from 734,000 in 1980 to 365,500 in 2015.

Deaths resulting from these fires fell 51 percent from 5,200 in 1980 to 2,560 in 2015.

vehicle that caught fire while driving on a freeway

A Los Angeles Fire Department battalion chief calls for an arson unit beside a vehicle that caught fire while driving on a freeway in Pacoima, Calif. Authorities say the motorist died after his car caught fire, filled with smoke and crashed on a Los Angeles freeway. (Photo: Mike Meadows/AP Photo)

4. There were 174,000 highway vehicle fires in 2015

This is n increase of 3.9 percent from the year before.

The NFPA estimates highway vehicle fires totaled $1.2 billion in property damage during 2015.

First Alert Onelink Wi-Fi Smoke + Carbon Monoxide Alarm

The First Alert Onelink Wi-Fi Smoke + Carbon Monoxide Alarm is on display at CES Unveiled, a media preview event for CES International on Jan. 4 in Las Vegas. The device monitors for smoke and carbon monoxide and can send alerts to a mobile device. (Photo: John Locher/AP Photo)

5. Additional home smoke alarm tips

  • Have working smoke alarms in each bedroom. You also need one outside each sleeping area. Install alarms on every level of the home. Mount alarms in the basement.
  • Large homes may need extra smoke alarms.
  • Test all smoke alarms once a month. Press the test button to be sure the alarms are working.
  • It's best to use interconnected smoke alarms. When one smoke alarm sounds they all sound.
  • There are two kinds of alarms. Ionization smoke alarms are quicker to warn about flaming fires. Photoelectric alarms are quicker to warn about smoldering fires. It's best to use both types of alarms in the home.
  • 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 10 feet from the stove.
  • People who are hard-of-hearing or deaf can use special alarms. These alarms have strobe lights and bed shakers.
  • A smoke alarm’s age can be determined by looking on the back or side of the smoke alarm, where the date of manufacture can be found. Smoke alarms should be replaced 10 years from that date (not the date of purchase or installation).

candles burning in home near fireplace

Don't leave candles unattended, especially around children and pets. (Photo: iStock)

6. Fire safety tips for homeowners and renters

  • Children under the age of four are at a higher risk of home fire injury and death than older children. Teach all children what the smoke alarm sounds like.
  • You may have less than three minutes to escape a home fire. Make a plan and talk with your family about what to do if there is a fire.
  • If you live in an apartment or condominium you need to know how to get out quickly if a fire starts. Count the number of doors there are between your apartment and the nearest fire exit. Memorize the number in case you have to find the exit in the dark.
  • If you smoke in your home, you’re at higher risk to have a fire. Use deep, sturdy ashtrays and always put cigarettes all the way out. Never smoke in bed or if drowsy.
  • Any open flame is dangerous. If you use candles in your home, put them in sturdy holders and at least 12 inches away from anything that can burn. Blow out all candles if you leave the room, get sleepy or go to bed.
  • Lock up any items that can start a fire (matches, lighters, cigarettes, etc.) and make sure children cannot reach candles.

Related:

7 ways to mitigate home fire risk

10 dos and don'ts to prevent home fires

Summer fire prevention tips

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