U.S. Fire Deaths Down in 2005

3,675 Deaths Last Year, Excluding Firefighters; Most Fires Happen at Home

From the WebMD Archives

Aug. 4, 2006 -- Fires killed 3,675 people in the U.S. last year, not counting firefighters, says the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA).

That number is almost 6% lower than 2004 fire deaths, and the third lowest death toll since 1977.

But it still means an American died in a fire every two hours and 23 minutes.

The vast majority of civilian fire deaths -- 3, 030, or about 82% -- happened at home.

Overall, the U.S. had about 1.6 million fires -- a slight increase since 2004. They caused nearly 18,000 civilian injuries and more than $10.6 billion in property losses.

The information comes from U.S. fire departments serving communities of at least 100,000 people and is published in NFPA's report, "Fire Loss in the United States During 2005."

Tips to Help Prevent Home Fires

The following safety tips are from the NFPA and firesafety.gov, which is sponsored by the CDC, Consumer Product Safety Commission, and U.S. Fire Administration:

  1. Install smoke alarms on every level of your home, especially near sleeping areas.
  2. Change the smoke alarms' batteries at least once a year.
  3. Replace the smoke alarm itself after 10 years, or as the manufacturer recommends.
  4. Plan at least two escape routes from every room in your home.
  5. Make sure the whole family knows the escape plan.
  6. If anyone at your home smokes, encourage them to smoke outside.
  7. Never smoke in bed or when you are drowsy, tipsy, or medicated.
  8. If a fire starts, get out immediately and don't go back inside.
  9. Completely douse cigarette butts and ashes with water before throwing them away.
  10. Extinguish candles before leaving the room.
  11. Never leave food unattended on the stovetop; keep a close eye on food in the oven.
  12. Clear cooking areas of combustibles such as rags, towels, pot holders, and packages.
  13. Turn your clothes dryer off before leaving the house.
  14. Don't run your clothes dryer without the lint screen in place; clean the lint screen before or after each use.
  15. Keep kids away from matches, lighters, and candles.
  16. Never use lighters or matches to amuse children. They may imitate what you do.

WebMD Health News Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD on August 04, 2006


SOURCES: National Fire Protection Association, "Fire Loss in the United States During 2005: Abridged Report." Firesafety.gov: "Fire Safety Discussion Points." National Fire Safety Protection Association: "Basic Fire Escape Planning." National Fire Safety Protection Association: "Children Playing With Fire." National Fire Safety Protection Association: "Smoking Material-Related Fires." National Fire Protection Association: "Candle Safety." National Fire Protection Association: "Cooking Safety." National Fire Protection Association: "Dryer and Washing Machine Safety." News release, National Fire Protection Association.
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