Home Fires

Every year, more than 350,000 homes in the United States are affected by fire. There are easy steps that you can take to reduce the chance that your home will be damaged or anyone injured in a blaze-whether it starts inside or outside your home.

Causes
Most home fires occur in the kitchen while cooking and are the leading cause of injuries from fire. Carelessly discarded cigarettes and heating appliances left to close to furniture are also major causes of fire. These fires can be particularly dangerous because they may smolder for a long period of time before being discovered by sleeping residents. Fire produces poisonous gases that can spread rapidly and far from the fire itself to claim victims who are asleep and not even aware of the fire.

Health Dangers
Even if residents awaken, the effects of exposure to these gases can cloud their thinking and slow their reactions so that they cannot make their escape. This is why it is so crucial for you and your family to have sufficient warning so that you can all escape before your ability to think and move is impaired.

Preventing Fires
The most effective way to protect yourself and your home from fire is to identify and remove fire hazards. During a home fire, working smoke alarms and a fire escape plan that has been practiced regularly can save lives. Fire kills more Americans each year than all natural disasters combined, approximately 3,500, and affects people from all backgrounds and geographic locations.

95% of U.S. homes have at least 1 smoke alarm, yet more than 65% of home fire deaths occur in the 5%  of homes with no smoke alarms.

Fire Safety
  • Review the Florida Forest Service's Personal Wildfire Action Plan.
  • Report hazardous conditions that could cause a wildfire.
  • Contact your local fire department, health department, or forestry office for information on fire laws.
  • Design and landscape your home with wildfire safety in mind. Select materials and plants that can help contain the fire rather than fuel it. For example, hardwood trees are less flammable than pine, evergreen, eucalyptus, or fir trees.
  • Regularly clean roofs and gutters.
  • Clear items that will burn from around the house, including wood piles, lawn furniture, barbecue grills, tarp coverings, etc. Move them outside of your defensible space.
  • Have a garden hose that is long enough to reach any area of the home and other structures on the property.
  • If a fire occurs in your home, get out, stay out and call for help.
  • Install smoke alarms on every level of your home, inside bedrooms and outside sleeping areas. Test them every month and replace the batteries at least once a year.
  • Ensure adequate accessibility by large fire vehicles to your property.
  • Never overload circuits or extension cords. Do not place cords and wires under rugs, over nails, or in high traffic areas.
  • Teach children about fire safety. Keep matches out of their reach.
  • Before burning debris in a wooded area, make sure you notify local authorities and obtain a burning permit.
Evacuation
If you must evacuate due to a wildfire threatening your area:
  • Close outside attic, eaves and basement vents, windows, doors, pet doors, etc. Remove flammable drapes and curtains. Close all shutters, blinds or heavy non-combustible window coverings to reduce radiant heat.
  • Close all doors inside the house to prevent draft. Open the damper on your fireplace, but close the fireplace screen.
  • Shut off any natural gas, propane or fuel oil supplies at the source.