USFA Seeks Safer 'Home Fire Season'

"Home fire season" has started, and the U.S. Fire Administration is working to make this year's cold months safer than last years--when there was a dramatic increase in home fire deaths. According to USFA, during the "home fire season" of Oct. 2007 to March 2008, there was a 68 percent increase in the number of fatal home fires and a 67 percent increase in the number of people killed in home fires, compared to the warmer months.

Not including arson-related deaths, from April 2007 through Sept. 2007 at least 589 people were killed in home fires. When it became cooler, from October 2007 through March 2008, at least 982 people were killed in home fires.

"Every year, about 1,000 people are killed in smoking-related home fires," said U.S. Fire Administrator Gregory B. Cade. "Smokers tend to smoke inside their homes more often because it's cooler outside, so what's important to remember is that smoking home fires can easily be prevented. It just takes a few seconds to light up and a few seconds to make sure that cigarette is really out."

During this time of the year, the use of holiday lighting, ornamental candles, and space heaters also raises the risk of home fires.

The following is a few tips to prevent a smoking home fire:

  • If you feel you must smoke, it's better to smoke outside.
  • Inside the home, use big ashtrays with a stable base.
  • Really put the cigarette out, don't just tap it into the ashtray.
  • It's not a good idea to smoke if you are drowsy, and never smoke in bed.
  • If people smoke while at your home, check for cigarette butts near the furniture and under sofa cushions before you call it a night.
  • Douse butts and ashes with water before you toss them into the trash.

USFA has materials for consumers, firefighters, and the media, including a video demonstrating how fast a smoldering cigarette can ignite and consume a room.

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