Injury Research and Policy Home Fire Safety Research :: Nationwide Children's Hospital, Columbus, Ohio

Home Fire Safety

No one expects a fire to start in their home, but sadly, house fires occur more often than you might think, so it is important to be prepared. In 2006, fire departments responded to more than 412,000 house fires in the United States. The results of these fires can be tragic. On average, 3,400 people die each year, and another 261,300 suffer non-fatal injuries due to house fires.

Home Fire Facts

  • Children younger than 5 years old and adults older than 70 years old are at higher risk of dying in a house fire.
  • Cooking causes the most house fires.
  • Smoking is the most common cause of fire-related deaths.
  • Nearly two-thirds of all house fire-related deaths occur in homes without working smoke alarms.
  • Most people who die in house fires are killed by the smoke, not the fire.

What Should You Do if a Fire Starts in Your Home?

  • Fire spreads very quickly. Get out as fast as possible.
  • Call 9-1-1 after you are safely outside.
  • Stay low to the ground where the smoke is not as thick.
  • Use the back of your hand to check doors for heat before opening. If the door is hot, find another way out.
  • Once you are out, stay out. Do not go back inside.

Prevention Tips

  • Have a working smoke alarm on every level of your home and outside all sleeping areas. Consider installing smoke alarms inside each bedroom as well.
  • Test your smoke alarms monthly.
  • Replace the battery in each smoke alarm at least once a year, unless the smoke alarm has a longer-lasting lithium battery.
  • Replace smoke alarms every 10 years.
  • Make an escape plan for your family and practice it regularly.
  • Keep an eye on the food you are cooking and do not let children near cooking appliances when they are in use.
  • Have fireplaces professionally checked and cleaned once a year.
  • Do not leave portable electric heaters running when you are out of the room or asleep.
  • Do not use electrical cords that are frayed or cracked.
  • Lock up matches, lighters, gasoline and other flammable materials to keep them securely out of reach of children.
  • Extinguish candles when you leave the room and before going to sleep.
Nationwide Children's Hospital
700 Children's Drive Columbus, Ohio 43205 614.722.2000