The U.S. has one of the highest fire death rates in the industrialized world. For 1998, the U.S. fire death rate was 14.9 deaths per million population.
Between 1994 and 1998, an average of 4,400 Americans lost their lives and another 25,100 were injured annually as the result of fire.
About 100 firefighters are killed each year in duty-related incidents.
Each year, fire kills more Americans than all natural disasters combined.
Fire is the third leading cause of accidental death in the home; at least 80 percent of all fire deaths occur in residences.
About 2 million fires are reported each year. Many others go unreported, causing additional injuries and property loss.
Direct property loss due to fires is estimated at $8.6 billion annually.
Where Fires Occur
There were 1,755,000 fires in the United States in 1998. Of these:
41% were Outside Fires
29% were Structure Fires
22% were Vehicle Fires
8 % were fires of other types
Residential fires represent 22 percent of all fires and 74 percent of structure fires.
Fires in 1-2 family dwellings most often start in the:
Living Room 7.9%
Laundry Area 4.7%
Apartment fires most often start in the:
Living Room 6.2%
Laundry Area 3.3%
The South has the highest fire death rate per-capita with 18.4 civilian deaths per million population.
80 percent of all fatalities occur in the home. Of those, approximately 85 percent occur in single-family homes and duplexes.
Causes of Fires and Fire Deaths
Cooking is the leading cause of home fires in the U.S. It is also the leading cause of home fire injuries. Cooking fires often result from unattended cooking and human error, rather than mechanical failure of stoves or ovens.
Careless smoking is the leading cause of fire deaths. Smoke alarms and smolder-resistant bedding and upholstered furniture are significant fire deterrents.
Heating is the second leading cause of residential fires and the second leading cause of fire deaths. However, heating fires are a larger problem in single family homes than in apartments. Unlike apartments, the heating systems in single family homes are often not professionally maintained.
Arson is both the third leading cause of residential fires and residential fire deaths. In commercial properties, arson is the major cause of deaths, injuries and dollar loss.
Who is Most at Risk
Senior citizens age 70 and over and children under the age of 5 have the greatest risk of fire death.
The fire death risk among seniors is more than double the average population.
The fire death risk for children under age 5 is nearly double the risk of the average population.
Children under the age of 10 accounted for an estimated 17 percent of all fire deaths in 1996.
Men die or are injured in fires almost twice as often as women.
African Americans and American Indians have significantly higher death rates per capita than the national average.
Although African Americans comprise 13 percent of the population, they account for 26 percent of fire deaths.
What Saves Lives
A working smoke alarm dramatically increases a person’s chance of surviving a fire.
Approximately 88 percent of U.S. homes have at least one smoke alarm. However, these alarms are not always properly maintained and as a result might not work in an emergency. There has been a disturbing increase over the last ten years in the number of fires that occur in homes with non-functioning alarms.
It is estimated that over 40 percent of residential fires and three-fifths of residential fatalities occur in homes with no smoke alarms.
Residential sprinklers have become more cost effective for homes. Currently, few homes are protected by them.
Did you know?
Eighty percent of all fire deaths occur in the home.
Cooking is the leading cause of home fires in the U.S. It is also the leading cause of fire injuries.
Deaths due to fires caused by cooking are particularly avoidable.
Having a working smoke alarm more than doubles one’s chances of surviving a fire.
Following these simple fire safety tips can boost survival rates dramatically.
Cooking Fires Life-Saving Tips
Never leave cooking unattended. A serious fire can start in just seconds.
Always wear short, tight-fitting sleeves when cooking.
Turn pot handles inward to avoid spills. Always use a potholder when reaching for handles.
Keep towels, pot holders and curtains away from flames and hot surfaces.
Clean cooking surfaces regularly to prevent grease buildup which can ignite.
If a fire breaks out while cooking, put a lid on the pan to smother it. You may also use baking soda. Never throw water on a grease fire.
Heat oil gradually to avoid burns from spattering grease. Use extra caution when preparing deep-fried foods.
Place a rubber mat on the floor in front of your stove to give you added traction in case liquids or grease spill.
Never use the range or oven to heat your home. In addition to being a fire hazard, toxic fumes may leak into your home.
Double-check the kitchen before you go to bed or leave the house. Make sure all other appliances are turned off.