Fire Can Strike Anywhere
Fires can strike anywhere—in structures, buildings, automobiles, and the outdoors. Fires that affect our homes are often the most tragic and the most preventable. While the loss of our possessions can be upsetting, the physical and psychological injuries fires inflict are often far more devastating. It is a sad fact, but nearly three-quarters (72%) of all civilian fire injuries occur as a result of fires in residential buildings—our homes.
Civilian fire injuries, by definition, involve people who are injured as a result of a fire. These injuries generally occur from activities of fire control, attempting rescue, or escaping from the dangers of the fire.
In 2005, someone was injured in a residential building fire every 39 minutes. The latest available data for 2005 show that an estimated 13,375 civilian fire injuries resulted from an estimated 376,500 residential building fires.
Cause of Fires that Result in Injury
Cooking is the primary cause for fires 25% of the time when injuries occur. Other unintentional or careless fires as well as open-flame fires each yield 12% of injuries. Fires where equipment mis-operates or fails produce 9% of injuries. Electrical malfunction fires generate 8% of injuries.
Escape Planning for Residential Buildings
Everyone should know how to escape from their residence. Leave fighting a fire to trained firefighters unless it is a small, easily controllable fire. Instead, focus efforts on following a pre-set escape plan.
A home filled with smoke is a very dangerous situation. Smoke blocks vision, and the toxic gases can cause dizziness and disorientation. Under these conditions, one can easily become lost or trapped in the home. Therefore, the first step in an escape plan is to make sure smoke alarms are in good working order.
Most civilian injuries are caused by trying to control a fire. Unless a fire is small and confined, call for help and leave fire control to trained firefighters…
Leading factors contributing to civilian injuries largely consist of situations where exits are blocked by fire, vision is impaired by smoke, or civilians are trapped above or below the fire. Unfamiliarity with exits, excessive distance to the nearest exit, or an inappropriate choice of exit can hinder a crucial escape.
A first step in an escape plan is to make sure smoke alarms are in good working order. Plan and practice at least two escape routes for every room and have procedures in place for those who require additional help such as infants, the elderly, and the disabled.
Information in this article is from:
TFRS Volume 8, Issue 3/Civilian Fire Injuries in Residential Buildings in 2005
U.S. Department of Homeland Security • U.S. Fire Administration
National Fire Data Center • Emmitsburg, Maryland 21727
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