According to the U. S. Fire Administration (USFA), over 1.5 million fires were reported in 2004, and there was an estimated $9.8 million in property loss due to fires. Even more alarming, there were close to 18,000 injuries and 3,900 deaths due to fires in 2004. The USFA states that, during that year, the death toll from fires was more than all natural disasters combined. Further, the agency claims that the actual numbers are higher, since many fires go unreported.
Fully 83 percent of all fire-related deaths and 80 percent of all injuries occurred in home fires. These numbers are all the more tragic since most home fires are fully preventable. The USFA offers these fire safety tips to protect your home and loved ones:
Home Fire Prevention
* Install smoke detectors on every level of your home, test them monthly, and change the batteries yearly. Smoke detectors can double your chance of survival during a home fire.
* Prevent electrical fires. Don't overload extension cords, and keep cords away from rugs. Unplug and replace appliances that sputter or spark.
* Use alternate heaters wisely. Keep combustible materials away from portable heaters. Use fire screens in your fireplace and have it cleaned each year.
* Plan your escape. Develop and practice an escape plan from every room in your house.
* Teach your children. Children of all ages set over 100,000 house fires each year, but children under five are especially curious about matches. Teach them the dangers of fire.
* Never smoke in bed. Careless smoking is the leading cause of home fire deaths.
Holiday Fire Prevention
* Select and care for your Christmas tree. Choose a Christmas tree that is fresh; if you bounce the trunk on the ground and needles fall off, it is not freshly cut. Once you put your tree up, keep it watered, and don't leave it up for longer than two weeks. Once you take it down, don't burn it in the fireplace; instead, take it to a recycling center or have a service come and pick it up.
* Maintain your holiday lights. Inspect your lights each year for frayed wires and wear. Check the wires; they shouldn't be warm. Finally, don't leave lights unattended.
* Decorate with care. Use only non-flammable or flame retardant decorations, and keep them away from heat sources. Don't put wrapping paper in the fireplace, as it could trigger a chemical explosion. If you put up an artificial tree, ensure that it is flame retardant.
There are many products available on the market that can help with fireproofing and offer fire protection. From Christmas tree fire prevention products to fabric treatments that make textiles fire resistive, these products, together with good home fire safety practices, can save lives and property.
Chris Robertson is an author of Majon International, one of the worlds MOST popular internet marketing companies on the web. Visit this Home Improvement Website and Majon's Home Improvement directory.