Home Fires: More Likely Than Believed

The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) recently expressed their concern over a Red Cross survey, which asked Americans questions about home fires and fire safety around the house.  40% of those surveyed believe it is more likely that they will win the lottery or be struck by lightning than experience a home fire.  This reveals a disturbingly high level of ignorance in this country concerning the likelihood of home fires, which unfortunately explains how few people prioritize fire safety in their places of residence.  Here are a few troubling misconceptions revealed by the Red Cross survey, and the unfortunate truths that counter them:

Home Fires Are An Unlikely Occurrence

According to the research conducted by the NFPA, seven people die in home fires every day.  Alternately, lightning kills an average of 47 people in the U.S. annually, and some estimate that an average of three to four people in the U. S. win at least a million dollars through the lottery on a daily basis, while others claim it is more likely to be killed by an asteroid strike or get murdered while visiting the Grand Canyon.  These figures show that the likelihood of dying in a home fire is drastically higher than these other scenarios, and thus must be taken seriously.  Do not let ignorance or unfounded optimism cause you to minimize the importance of making sure your house is properly fitted with fire protection.

Everyone Knows How to React to a Smoke Alarm

More than 80% of those surveyed by the Red Cross said that everyone in their families knew how to respond to a smoke detector sounding an alarm, yet less than half of those answering had established fire escape plans in their homes.  Additionally, many of those with escape plans in place never practiced them.  The presence of an operating smoke alarm does not guarantee the safety of those who hear it, in fact, a decent percentage of those killed in home fires were in houses where the smoke alarms activated.  Never underestimate the importance of reviewing safety procedures, and teaching all family members how to properly respond when a smoke detector sounds.  This article from National Preparedness Week reviews the importance of fire escape plans, and helpful tips for creating one.

You Have At Least Five Minutes to Escape

More than half of Americans grossly overestimate how much time they have to escape a burning house.  In most cases, you have less than two minutes to safely escape after the smoke alarms have started beeping.  This demonstrates the importance of smoke alarms, and why many in houses without them, or with defective alarms, are at higher risk of dying in the burning house.  This also emphasizes the importance of reviewing your fire escape plan with your whole family on a regular basis.  Two minutes is not enough time to think about what to do, the family must be prepared to instantly spring into action once the alarms sound.


Seven deaths a day from home fires is beyond serious, it is catastrophic, and taking preventive measures to decrease that number should not be considered optional.  Consider checking your smoke detectors once a month to make sure they are functioning, creating a fire escape plan, or reviewing your existing one, with your family, and learning more about cooking safety, as the majority of home fires start in the kitchen.  You can also check the Pye-Barker Facebook page, where we post seasonal safety checklists that highlight specific concerns that relate to the holidays, weather, or events.  As always, we are here for you and happy to answer any questions concerning your fire and life safety needs.  Please carefully consider the results of this survey, and spend time tonight quizzing your family, to see how prepared you really are should a fire-related emergency occur.  One can never be too careful when protecting what matters most.