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Household Fires Claim Thousands of Lives Each Year

by: ARA
(ARA) - The statistics surrounding fire-related deaths and property damage in the United States are staggering. More than 500,000 household fires occur in this country alone each year, resulting in 5,000 deaths -- an average of 14 per day. The majority of those who die are children, the handicapped and the elderly, often because they are unable to quickly escape a burning structure.

In fact, the fire death rate among people over the age of 65 is twice as high as the national average, according to the United States Fire Administration (USFA). Even worse, the fire death rate among people between ages 75 and 85 is three times the national average. After age 85, it rises to four times the national average.

In addition to the elderly and others who are physically challenged to escape in time, smokers are also at a higher risk of dying in a fire. Smoking has, and continues to be, one of the leading causes of residential fire deaths. Thatís because tobacco burns at extremely high temperatures and is manufactured to stay lit -- especially cigarette tobacco. Because it can quietly smolder out of sight, the residue from a lit cigarette, cigar or even pipe can start a slow but deadly fire.

What can be done to minimize your risks?

Whether you smoke or not, and regardless of whether there are young children or older family members in your household, it is important to realize that there are basic steps you can take to protect your family.

Most newer homes today, for instance, feature smoke detectors. While installing a smoke detector outside bedroom doors and near the kitchen is an important first step in protecting your family, it should not be viewed as your sole defense. Smoke detectors are extremely effective at providing a warning that a fire has started, but they do nothing to extinguish the deadly flames. When a smoke detector is used in combination with a fire sprinkler, however, it can reduce the loss of life up to 98.5 percent -- an increase of 48.5 percent over what smoke detectors alone can do.

However, itís important to note that not all fire sprinklers are created equal. One system -- the BlazeMaster CPVC fire sprinkler system -- has been shown to be particularly effective. Approved for more applications than any other non-metallic fire sprinkler system, it performs when it counts most -- under fire.

BlazeMaster fire sprinkler systems are made from a revolutionary, high-temperature specialty material that is ideal for fire protection applications. Lightweight, easy to install and less expensive than most metallic systems, BlazeMaster CPVC fire sprinkler systems are quickly becoming the product of choice for safety-conscious homeowners, landlords, hospitals, college dorms, hotels and assisted living facilities. For the amount of money it costs to upgrade your carpeting or cabinets, you can give your family a fighting chance against a fire by installing a CPVC fire sprinkler system.

Prevention is key

In addition to protecting yourself against a fire once it starts, it is important to work to prevent a fire from starting in the first place by becoming aware of some of the more common dangers lurking in your home.

The kitchen can be an extremely dangerous area, for example, especially when youíre cooking with fats and oils. A grease fire represents a greater danger because it can spread quickly throughout your kitchen and beyond within seconds with few options for containing it.

The simplest way to extinguish a grease fire that occurs on a stove top is to place a lid on the pan and allow the fire to suffocate. A large amount of baking soda (or in absence of baking soda, use salt) can also be used to extinguish a grease fire. However, use caution when dispersing, since splashing could result in severe burns. And never try to pick up the pan and move it once a fire has started, as the flames can spread quickly.

Smoking, as mentioned before, represents a tremendous risk. If you must smoke, practice safe smoking habits. This means refraining from smoking when youíre overly tired or in bed to avoid falling asleep while a cigarette is still lit. Always soak the residual ashes in water before throwing them away. And, of course, never leave smoking materials unattended.

While cooking and smoking are ongoing concerns, there are also seasonal risks which you should be aware of. Holiday decorations, such as trees, wrapping paper and candles can present major hazards and merit additional caution.

Every year consumers are warned about the dangers of Christmas trees. Yet every year we read about an area home that was consumed because of a fire that started with the family tree.

A dry holiday tree is a serious fire hazard, and once ignited, it can easily engulf its host room in flames. Following harvest, most holiday tree species can lose up to about 50 percent of their moisture content. Still, they can remain fire-resistant if properly displayed in a water-filled container.

A live holiday tree, when brought home, should have about a half-inch of the bottom trunk cut off to allow it to continue absorbing water. Use a water-holding stand with a minimum one-gallon capacity, and keep it watered daily to prevent it from drying out while on display. Donít let the water level in the stand fall below the bottom of the trunk.

Another seasonal concern is wrapping paper, which should never be burned in a wood stove or fireplace because it can cause a flue fire. In addition, any unburned material may clog your chimney and represent an additional fire hazard.

The increased use of candles around the holidays can also be deadly if they are used improperly. To limit your risk, keep lighted candles in fireproof containers and away from flammable surfaces such as TV sets. Also be certain to keep them clear of easily ignited items, including curtains, tablecloths and napkins. And never leave them unattended.

Once you recognize where a fire is most likely to start and develop safety routines to minimize the risk, be certain to practice escape plans regularly with every member of the family. If there are small children or seniors in the home, be aware of their limitations of escaping when planning your escape routes. Itís vital that you determine two ways to get out of each room in your residence.

And, as always, make sure smoke detectors are operational by testing them monthly and replacing their batteries once a year. Those who are deaf or hard of hearing should invest in visual aids such as detectors with strobe lights.

While the statistics for fire-related deaths and injuries are terrifying, you can help keep your family from becoming such a statistic by following just a few common sense, basic safety tips and outfitting your home with the proper safety equipment, including smoke detectors and fire sprinkler protection.

To learn more about how you can protect your family, as well as your fire safety options, visit www.blazemaster.com.

Courtesy of ARA Content


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