Fire Safety Tips

In the event of a fire, remember that time is your biggest enemy, and every second counts.

Escape first, then call for help. Develop a fire escape plan for your home and designate a meeting place outside. Make sure everyone in the family knows two ways to escape from every room. Practice feeling your way out with your eyes closed. Never stand up in a fire; always crawl low under the smoke and try to keep your mouth covered. Never return to a burning building for any reason, as it it may cost you your life.

Lastly, having a working smoke alarm drastically increases your chances of surviving a fire. Remember to practice your home escape plan frequently with your family.

Where Fires Occur

According to the U.S. Fire Administration, there were 1,291,500 fires in the United States in 2019. This was a decrease of 3.2% from 2010. Of these:
  • 3,704 people were killed
  • 16,600 people were injured
Residential structure fires represent about 25% of all fires and 75% of structure fires. Between 2010-2019, there was a 10% increase in residential cooking fires.

The South has the highest fire death rate per-capita, with 18.4 civilian deaths per million.

Residential structures include one and two-family dwellings (including manufactured homes), apartments, hotels, motels, college dormitories, boarding houses, etc.
These fires most often start in the:
  • Kitchen 23.5%
  • Bedroom 12.7%
  • Living Room 7.9%
  • Chimney 7.1%
  • Laundry Area 4.7%
Apartment fires most often start in the:
  • Kitchen 46.1%
  • Bedroom 12.3%
  • Living Room 6.2%
  • Laundry Area 3.3%
  • Bathroom 2.4%

Causes of Fires & Fire Deaths

  • Cooking is the leading cause of home fires in the U.S., and 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.
  • 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 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% 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% of the population, they account for 26% of fire deaths.

What Saves Lives?

  • A working smoke alarm drastically increases a person's chance of surviving a fire.
  • Approximately 88% 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 10 years in the number of fires that occur in homes with non-functioning alarms.
  • It is estimated that more than 40% of residential fires and 3/5 of residential fatalities occur in homes with no smoke alarms.
  • Residential sprinklers have become more cost effective for homes in recent years, however, few homes are protected by them.