Report: Smoking is leading cause of fatal home fires
Smoking was the No. 1 cause of fatal home fires in the United States from 2007 to 2009, according to a report from the U.S. Fire Administration.
At 17 percent, smoking led the causes of home fires that killed civilians — anyone aside from firefighters and other emergency personnel. The cause of 16 percent of these fires was listed as an “unintentionally set, careless” action. The next leading causes were electrical malfunctions (12 percent) and intentional (10 percent).
Other statistics from the U.S. Fire Administration report:
• Bedrooms were the leading location (55 percent) where fire deaths occurred in residential buildings.
• 70 percent of fire victims in residential buildings were escaping (36 percent) or sleeping (34 percent) at the time of their deaths. “Smoke alarms are more effective for waking people when they are asleep during a fire than a person’s sense of smell. A person does not wake up from the smell of fire while sleeping,” the report says.
• Males accounted for 57 percent of fire deaths in residential buildings, while women accounted for 43 percent.
• 43 percent of deaths in residential fires were among people between 40 and 69 years old.
• 91 percent of deaths in residential fires involved thermal burns and smoke inhalation.
“By preparing for a home fire emergency, you can greatly reduce your chances of becoming a fire casualty,” Deputy U.S. Fire Administrator Glenn Gaines says in a news release. “Install smoke alarms on every level of your home, test them once a month, change the batteries at least once a year, and make and practice a home fire escape plan.”
A standard homeowner’s or renter’s insurance policy covers damage from a fire, unless you intentionally set the blaze.