Each year, an average of 372,900 residential fires result in significant amounts of damage:
• $7 billion in property losses
• 13,125 injuries
• 2,530 deaths
The U.S. Fire Administration reported that in 2013, nearly half of all residential fires were caused by cooking. The next two leading causes of house fires were related to heating and electrical malfunctions, accounting for about 13% and 6%, respectively. The incidence of fires is nearly non-existent during the summer months but at all-time highs during November and the winter months.
Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, and Christmas Day all bring increased numbers of house fires; in fact, Thanksgiving Day reports of fires in residential buildings are typically more than double the average daily number of fires. From 2011 to 2013, Thanksgiving Day fires alone caused the following losses:
• $28 million
• 50 injuries
• 10 deaths
As the holidays approach, it’s a good idea to increase your awareness of potential cooking-related fire hazards as well as to make sure you’re prepared and know how you should respond if a fire starts. We’ll be referencing ideas from this detailed report about the specific causes and other details contributing to cooking fires.
Most cooking fires occur between 5 and 8 p.m., as people are preparing their evening meals. (On holidays, the peak time period is between 1 and 3 p.m., instead, since people usually eat their main meal earlier in the day.) In 60% of cooking fires, the main cause cited was “operational deficiency.” Coming in second at 28% was “misuse of materials or products.” When the cause is known, ignition of the fire is often caused by unattended equipment (43%). The second leading cause of ignition is a heat source too close to combustibles (12%).
One way to help avoid potential fires is to focus on the task at hand, as you cook. Be mindful of which surfaces are hot and what is close enough to come into contact with them. If you have something on a hot burner and you absolutely need to leave the room, turn the burner off first.
Another area of much-needed caution includes cooking methods and materials. More than half of all cooking fires start with oil, fat, or grease — all of which are highly flammable and can easily splatter during cooking. So when you’re using those ingredients, you’ll want to be especially focused and cautious. A holiday favorite is, of course, turkey; make sure to avoid using turkey fryers inside a home or garage or on wooden deck.
No matter how cautious you are or plan to be, you need to be prepared in case of an accident or electrical malfunction. Very few residential cooking fires have taken place in homes with AESs (Automatic Extinguishment Systems). Residential sprinkler systems are on the rise, and many experts credit smoke detectors and fire extinguishers with the significant drop in fire fatalities and injuries over the past 3 decades. While smoke alarms were present in approximately 2/3 of residential cooking fires, that leaves 1/3 without these potentially life-saving devices.
D’Amico Electric Company
Since 1994, the D’Amico Electric Company has been offering electrical contracting services for industrial, commercial and residential buildings. From backup generator installation & ongoing maintenance to landscape/accent wiring and home theater systems, our experienced technicians are here to serve you. With our fleet of 10 trucks, we provide emergency electrical services 24 hours a day. Visit our website at damicoelectriccompany.com.
D’Amico Electric is licensed in Westchester, Putnam and Dutchess counties, New York and all of Connecticut. Our founder is Anthony D’Amico, a licensed electrician since 1992, who is a member of the Westchester Licensed Electrical Contractors Association.
When you need electrical help, choose D’Amico. We bring safe & innovative electrical solutions to homes & businesses. For more information on how we can serve you, call D’Amico Electric today at (914) 241-6909.
Image credits: Top © David Bignolet/Fotolia. 2nd © Tan Kian Khoon/Fotolia. 3rd © Tatiana Belova/Fotolia.
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