Friday February 03, 2017

Are House Fires Increasing in Tulsa? What Can Be Done?

Sadly, it seems like every day we wake up to news alerts reporting that another Tulsa area home has been destroyed by a fire. At the very least, property and precious memories are ruined by these house fires and a long, disheartening rebuilding process begins. 

According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), structural fires across the nation have increased by 1.5 percent. In 2015, the NFPA reported that there were “501,500 structure fires, causing 2,685 civilian deaths, 13,000 civilian injuries, and $10.3 billion in property damage.” Of those fires, 77.4 percent or 388,000 occurred in residential structures, an increase of 1,500 fires from the previous year. These residential structures are “one- and two-family homes including manufactured homes, apartments or other multi-family housing, hotels and motels, dormitories, and boarding houses.”

Winter often sees more house fires than any other season because of the increase in heating equipment used, and heating, the NFPA reports, is the second leading cause of home fires, deaths, and injuries in the United States. Cooking equipment was found to be the leading cause of home fires and injuries in general whereas smoking is actually the leading cause of home fire deaths, the NFPA reported.

What can be done to ensure your home doesn’t succumb to a fire this year? Below are just some of the safety tips that can be found on the NFPA website. Some may seem basic, but often it can be the simple, practical steps to preventing fires that are easily overlooked.

NFPA Fire Safety Tips:

Heating:

Keep anything that can burn at least three feet away from heating equipment, like the furnace, fireplace, wood stove, or portable space heater.

Plug only 1 heat-producing appliance, such as a space heater, into an electrical outlet at a time, and be sure it is plugged directly into the outlet (not an extension cord).

Have a three-foot “kid-free zone” around open fires and space heaters.

Never use your oven to heat your home.

Have a qualified professional install stationary space heating equipment, water heaters or central heating equipment according to the local codes and manufacturer’s instructions.

Have heating equipment, chimneys, and vents cleaned and inspected every year by a qualified professional.

Remember to turn portable heaters off when leaving the room or going to bed.

Always use the right kind of fuel, specified by the manufacturer, for fuel burning space heaters.

Make sure the fireplace has a sturdy screen to stop sparks from flying into the room. Ashes should be cool before putting them in a metal container. Keep the container a safe distance away from your home.

Keep portable generators outside and as far away from the house as possible.

Smoke alarms can play a huge role in keeping your family safe in the event you have a house fire. According to the NFPA, three out of every five home fire deaths was the result of fires in homes with no smoke alarms or no working smoke alarms.  Test smoke alarms and carbon monoxide alarms at least once a month.

Smoking:

            If you smoke, only smoke outside. Most deaths result from fires that started in living rooms, family rooms, dens, and bedrooms.

            Do not discard cigarettes in vegetation such as potted plants, mulch, grass, leaves, or other things that could ignite easily.

            Use a sturdy, deep ashtray. Place it away from anything that could burn.

            Make sure all ashes and cigarette butts are completely out by dousing them in water or sand.

            Keep all smoking materials out the reach of children.

            Fires have also occurred while e-cigarettes were being used, the battery was being charged, or the device was being transported. Battery failures have led to small explosions. Never leave e-cigarettes charging unattended.

            Cooking:

            The leading cause of fires in the kitchen is unattended cooking. Stay in the kitchen while you are frying, grilling, or broiling food. If you leave the kitchen for even a short period of time, turn off the stove.

If you are simmering, baking, roasting, or boiling, check it regularly, remain in the home, and use a timer.

Keep anything that could catch fire - such as oven mitts, wooden utensils, food packaging, towels, or curtains – away from the stovetop.

If you have a small grease cooking fire, and decide to fight the fire. . .

On the stovetop, smother the flames by sliding a lid over the pan and turning off the burner. Leave the pan covered until it is completely cooled.

For an oven fire, turn off the heat and keep the door closed.

Another effective means of safeguarding your family and home from a fire is to install an automatic fire sprinkler system. Residential fire sprinklers have numerous advantages and are more cost-effective than many may think. While there are many misconceptions about how fire sprinklers work, as the NFPA noted, sprinklers can save lives and property because they “respond quickly and effectively to fire, often extinguishing the fire before the fire department arrives.”

As specialists in fire sprinkler system installation and maintenance, the team at Mac Systems in Tulsa and Oklahoma City can design and install a complete fire sprinkler system for your home, multi-dwelling unit project, or business. Protect your family and your business with the best and most up-to-date fire suppression system in Oklahoma.