Beware The Most Deadly Fire Season of Year

Don’t Let Your Family Become A Tragic Holiday Statistic

The heartcrushing headlines could come from Any Town, Iowa.

December 23, 2017

DAVENPORT, Iowa: Kelsey Clain and her four children perish when their mobile home catches fire. Authorities report the Clain family had no working smoke detectors in their home.

Christmas Day, 2017

BLUE GRASS, Iowa: Four people die in a house fire just 15 miles from the Quad Cities. Again, firefighters site non-functional smoke detectors as a key contributor to the fire’s deadly toll.

These tragic stories are telling reminders that the threat of fatal house fires soar during the holidays. As the National Fire Protection Agency Notes, this time of year can quickly turn deadly in homes not practicing smart fire prevention and safety. The combustible mix of cooking (the No. 1 cause of holiday home fires), heating, holiday decorations, live Christmas tress and candles is a recipe for an unsuspecting family’s worst December ever.

We are fast approaching the top three days of the year for home candle fires: Christmas Day, New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day. Last year, the American Red Cross reports, home fires raged in 47,000 homes across America, claiming 500 lives.

According to the Iowa State Fire Marshal, 31 Iowans have lost their lives this year in fire-related fatalities through December 8. The most common thread of all the fires is a non-working smoke detector. A February 9 house fire claimed the life of nine-year-old Riley Meyer of George. A working smoke detector could have saved Riley’s life.

Last year’s Iowa fire-related death toll topped 50. Nationwide, Iowa’s ratio of 4.1 deaths per 1,000 fires is almost double the national average, according to the National Fire Department Registry.

Every firefighter in the Hawkeye State will tell you that number could easily be greatly reduced by the presence of working fire detectors, every family implementing a fire escape plan, and every Iowan knowing the factors that cause house fires. The NFPA reports no smoke alarms are present in 40 percent (two out of every five) fatal U.S. home fires.  

Davenport Fire Marshal Jim Morris says these statistics are unfortunately the best public reminders on the necessity of having working smoke detectors in every sleeping area and main room of a home.

“There’s no way for us to enforce use of smoke detectors other than public service announcements like (these),” Morris told the Cedar Rapids Gazette.

A working smoke detector is our best means and chance of surviving a home fire. Fire safety officials stress the potentially life-saving importance of following these five Smoke Detector Rules:

  1. Install smoke alarms on each level of your home and in all sleeping areas
  2. Make sure you can hear a smoke alarm when activated
  3. Test alarms monthly
  4. Change alarm batteries once a year
  5. Replace alarms older than 10 years

Here are other important holiday fire prevention tips from the U.S. Fire Administration:

  1. Keep Christmas trees at least three feat away from heat sources like fireplaces, radiators, space heaters, candles or heat vents. Also, make sure your tree does not block exits.
  2. Discard of your tree by December 30 or as soon as it becomes dry.
  3. Read manufacturer’s instructions for the correct number of light strands to connect.
  4. Keep candles at least 12 inches away from anything that burns.

Remember, a home fire can strike in the blink of an eye and ignite from a simple overturned candle or short-circuited holiday light wire. Be alert and aware of and be prepared for the potential fire threats in your home, and don’t let your family become a heartbreaking holiday home fire statistic.

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