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SUMMER FIRE SAFETY by Shari Tillotson
As homeowners, we install smoke detectors and put a fire extinguisher in the kitchen. We check the stove, turn off lights, and blow out candles, believing that there will never be a fire. Something I have learned in my many years in this industry is that fires happen to anyone, anywhere. According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), firefighters respond to about 370,000 home blazes every year. Homeowners need to make a more concerted effort to prevent and prepare for fires, evaluating fire hazards and developing escape strategies that involve the whole family and every area of the house. Even though fires are less common during summer months, do not become complacent, they are still a hazard. Below are the leading causes of summer house fires in the U.S: 1. Indoor Cooking Cooking is by far the leading cause of house fires. According the National Fire Incident Reporting System (NFIRS), in 2011 there were 166,600 cooking fires. Many cooking fires are caused by grease that ignites on a stove which was left unattended, or the heat from a burner ignites flammable items near the stove. 2. Outdoor Cooking Taking the cooking outside also poses dangers. The majority of grill fires take place in the summer. More than 17 percent of grill fires happen in July, and another 39 percent of grill fires happen in May, June and August (NFIRS). Mishandled propane is responsible for a significant number of grill fires. 3. Air Conditioners Heating is a leading cause of residential fires, but air conditioners also start fires. U.S. Fire Administration (USFA) reports an estimated 2,300 residential air conditioning fires start each year, causing roughly $23.8 million in damage. Electrical malfunctions are the leading causes of air conditioning fires. Routine annual inspections can help detect and prevent such malfunctions. 4. Fireworks In 2011, an estimated 17,800 reported fires were started by fireworks. These fires resulted in estimated $32 million indirect property damage. On Independence Day in a typical year, fireworks account for two out of five all reported fires, more than any other cause of fire (NFPA).
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