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Officials stress fire prevention

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BY LINDELL JOHN KAY
Staff Writer

Friday, October 12, 2018

Local emergency officials are reminding residents of ways to prevent house fires as part of National Fire Prevention Week.

Four out of five U.S. fire deaths occur in homes, said Brent Fisher, Nash County's assistant director of Emergency Management and Fire Rescue Services.

While the number of house fires has decreased over the years with fire prevention efforts, firefighters don't want folks to get complacent and think a fire can't happen in their home.

"Fire is a real risk in your home and everyone should be prepared to protect themselves and their families," Fisher said. "Having a plan is one of the most important steps you can take in being prepared."

Knowing what to do and how to do it can help a family escape a fire. Everyone should draw an escape plan of their home indicating two escape routes from each room in the house, Fisher said.

"Designate a meeting place outside where all family members should go," Fisher said. "Make sure your address is posted so emergency personnel can find you. Our children practice fire drills at school once a month — we should be doing the same within our home with our family."

Smoke alarms also are important. Smoke alarms are designed for early notification. While 15 percent of fires occur in the kitchen, fire can happen anywhere in the home and while residents are asleep, according to fire officials.

"This is why it is important to install a smoke alarm on each level of your home and outside of each sleeping area," Fisher said. "Smoke alarms should be tested monthly and the batteries replaced twice a year."

The following are the top causes of house fires:

■ Cooking fires attribute to the most common cause of home fires.

■ Heating equipment causes almost 13 percent of fires in the home.

■ Electrical equipment causes 6 percent of house fires. Look for frayed wires and keep cords away from furniture and rugs.

■ Carelessness results in 5.8 percent of fires. This includes leaving candles burning and placing heating equipment too close to combustible materials.

■ Open flames start about 4 percent of fires.

■ Appliances cause about 4 percent of fires. Ensure all appliances have an affixed UL label.

■ Intentionally set fires are attributed to 4.2 percent of fires.

■ Smoking causes about 2 percent of fires.

■ Natural causes such as lightning and wildfires account for 1.6 percent of house fires.

Seconds matter in a fire and can mean the difference between escape and survival or tragedy.

“Look, Listen, Learn. Be aware. Fire can happen anywhere” is the theme for this year's fire prevention week, which works to educate people about the three ways they can reduce the likelihood of having a fire and how to escape safely if they do.

A sobering statistic: If you have a home fire today, you are more likely to die than you were in 1980, according to the National Fire Prevention Association. Several contributing factors include building constructions, open floorplans and the synthetic furnishings in a home.

These building characteristics make homes burn faster and the fires produce deadly smoke and gases within moments, said Lorraine Carli, the association's vice president of Outreach and Advocacy.

Residents can have as little as two to three minutes to escape a home fire today as compared to eight to 10 minutes years ago.

Firefighters want residents to:

■ Look for places fire can start. Identify potential fire hazards and take care of them.

■ Listen for the sound of smoke alarms. There should be a smoke alarm on each floor level and outside each sleeping area.

■ Learn two ways out of each room. Make sure all windows and doors leading outside open easily.

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