On average, there are more than 13 million fires in the United States each year, causing over 3,300 deaths and 14,000 injuries annually.
While most of these injuries involve acute lung injury due to smoke or toxic fume inhalation (such as carbon monoxide), burn injuries account for about 30% of fire-related injuries. When inhalation injuries are combined with external burns, the chance of death increases significantly.
You can read about all of these types of injuries, the dangers they pose, and how they are treated on our Burn Injuries page. Of course, the best way to prevent fire-related injuries is to prevent the fire from starting in the first place. It’s also important to have a plan in place in case a fire does occur. Here are some tips and guidelines to prevent fire accidents and avoid fire-related injuries.
All fires need the same three ingredients in order to start, or keep burning: heat, fuel, and oxygen.
Likewise, removing any one of these elements can prevent or extinguish a fire. For example, covering a fire with a fire blanket removes the oxygen. Removing the fuel will also stop a fire. For a fire on a gas range, turning off the burner is often the simplest solution. Water can absorb heat and extinguish wood or paper fires, but it is not safe to use water on grease, electrical or metal fires; specific types of fire extinguishers are typically recommended for those fires. There are also “all purpose” fire extinguishers for the most common fire classifications.
Understanding the fire triangle can help identify common-sense ways to prevent fires. For instance, keeping combustible materials like paper, wood, oils, and fabrics away from heat sources.
Fire Accidents: Causes and Prevention at Home
According to the National Fire Prevention Association, top causes of fire in homes are: unattended cooking/frying, smoking, heating equipment, arson, and wiring or electrical malfunction. Here are some tips to prevent these:
Never leave cooking unattended, especially if you are frying.
If you smoke, do it outside. Before discarding your cigarette butt or ashes, make sure it is entirely extinguished, and put it in a deep ashtray, away from anything flammable. Don’t discard it in vegetation.
Inspect your home’s wiring for anything that isn’t working right (lights flickering, hot switches, non-working outlets).
Inspect appliances and electrical equipment regularly for frayed wires, or dust and grease build-up.
Install smoke and carbon monoxide alarms on every floor and within 15 feet of bedrooms.
Test your smoke and carbon monoxide alarms monthly, and change the batteries twice a year.
Create a fire escape plan for your family, and hold fire drills two times a year.
If a fire starts in your home, get out immediately and call 911. Then, stay outside — don’t go back in.
Fire Accidents: Causes and Prevention at Work
Common Causes of Fires in the Workplace Include:
Electrical equipment that is either defective, or improperly maintained
Flammable materials: loose paper, grease (i.e., cooking grease), and dust. Many people don’t realize how combustible many types of dust are – wood, flour, sugar, coal and metal. When dust does combust, it often creates an explosion.
Human error/ negligence: improper storage of flammables, not reporting faulty equipment, using equipment incorrectly, improperly covering or spilling liquids on electrical equipment, loose wires, too many electrical cords
Arson: in 2016, intentional fires accounted for 9.3% of nonresidential building fire causes
Fire Accidents: Prevention Tips at Work:
A fire prevention plan will minimize the number of times an evacuation is needed. Provisions of a fire prevention plan include:
Housekeeping procedures for storage and clean-up of flammable materials and flammable waste;
Procedures for controlling ignition sources such as smoking, welding, and burning;
Procedures for maintenance and cleaning of heat-producing equipment, such as burners, ovens, stoves, and fryers; and
Training of employees in the potential fire hazards and the control procedures in the fire prevention plan.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration requires workplaces to have a training program for employees to prevent fire deaths and injuries in the workplace:
All workplaces should have a written emergency plan and train employees in emergency evacuation procedures, including designated evacuation routes and procedures to account for all evacuated employees; a clear emergency alert system; assigned responsibilities for emergency procedures.
Workplaces should also have either automatic fire suppression systems, such as a sprinkler system, or have the appropriate type and number of fire extinguishers for the specific fire hazards that exist in that workplace. If opting for fire extinguishers, then employees should be trained in how to use them, and they must be maintained and inspected regularly.
Fire exits must be free of all obstructions and clearly marked with exit signs. They must not be locked from the inside.
If you have been injured or had your property damaged in a fire that was not your fault, don’t put yourself or your family at financial risk – contact the fire accident and injury lawyers at TorkLaw today to learn more about your rights.
A personal injury claim can help you can obtain compensation to pay for expensive medical treatments, and lost income from missed work. Call today at (888) 845-9696 and see what we can do for you when debilitating burn injury attempts to rob you and your family of a secure, financial future.