Home Fire Safety Checklist
Follow these fire prevention steps, along with insights from Daniel Gorham, a research engineer at the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety, to help protect your home.
Fire is one of the most disastrous and life-threatening things that can happen to a home. U.S. fire departments responded to an average of 354,583 home fires per year from 2013-2017, resulting in an annual average of:7
- 2,617 fatalities
- 11,217 injuries
- $6.9 billion in property loss
In less than 30 seconds, a small fire can turn into a big one. In just two minutes, a fire can become deadly. In less than five minutes, an entire house can become engulfed in flames.8
Daniel Gorham, a research engineer at the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety, as well as a firefighter, tells Amica that cooking is the number one cause of home fires.9 That potential hazard is followed by heating equipment, electrical malfunctions, candles and other open flames, and smoking, which is the leading cause of fatalities from a fire in the U.S.10
Taking active fire prevention steps, such as those in the Amica Home Fire Safety Checklist, can help protect your home and family. “Home fire safety starts at controlling ignition sources,” says Gorham. One important example, he notes, is grill safety. Keeping grills a safe distance from the home and allowing cool-off time before leaving a grill unattended are two ways to help prevent a fire. Similarly, inside the home, move combustibles away from stoves and ovens when in use, he adds.
Having fire safety equipment for your home – smoke alarms, carbon monoxide alarms, residential sprinkler systems and fire extinguishers – also can prevent a fire or stop a small fire from becoming a deadly one.
Gorham points out that where homeowners place smoke alarms is crucial. “You should have one in each bedroom and one outside of the sleeping area,” he says. Read the installation instructions for placement near kitchen areas, as it may increase the chances of a false alarm, leading some people to take the batteries out to stop the annoyance, according to Gorham.
If an alarm should go off due to a fire you were unable to prevent or stop, the next best measure is to confine the fire. “Closing the door to the room that’s on fire, or the door to the room where you want to keep yourself from the fire, can actually resist the spread of smoke and fire, and gives someone the time to safely evacuate or be rescued by the fire department,” Gorham explains.
Not all fires are caused by human error or negligence. Each year, hundreds of homes are destroyed by wildfires. In 2017, an estimated $10 billion in property damage occurred as a result of wildfires in Northern California.11 That’s why it’s critical to know what protection is offered by the property coverage on your homeowners policy.
Fortunately, there are things homeowners can do to help make their property and neighborhood safe from wildfires and house fires. Using the Amica Home Fire Safety Checklist can be a helpful tool in making your home safe.
- Home Structure Fires, National Fire Protection Association, 2018.
- Cooking Safety, National Fire Protection Association, 2018.
- Is Your Home a Fire Hazard?, Red Cross, 2019.
- Electrical Safety: Checklist, National Fire Protection Association, 2017.
- Wildfire, National Fire Protection Association, 2019.
- Protect Your Home From Wildfire, DisasterSafety.org, 2019.
- Fires by Occupancy or Property Type, National Fire Protection Association, 2017.
- Home Fires, Ready.gov, 2019.
- Daniel Gorham, Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety, June, 2019.
- Top Causes of Fire, National Fire Protection Association, 2019.
- Fire Loss in the United States, National Fire Protection Association, 2018.
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