By Aileen Shen

October 7-13 is National Fire Prevention Week. Are you and your family protected?

About 367,000 unintentional house fires claim the lives of 2,300 people each year, cause 12,600 injuries, and cost more than $7 billion in property damage.  That’s about 6 lives lost a day on top of many injuries and expenses, much of which could be prevented.

Cooking equipment are the leading cause of fires, accounting for about 40 percent, with heating equipment like portable space heaters and cooling equipment following closely.

With heating season approaching, it’s even more important to take note of fire safety tips.

Three ways to prevent fires are to:

1)      Never leave heated cooking equipment unattended.
2)      Use portable heaters, candles, lighters, matches, and smoking materials with caution away from upholstered furniture, mattresses, bedding, and anything else flammable.
3)      Have a professional inspect all fuel-burning home appliances such as furnaces and chimneys.

What are some second lines of defense against home fires?

1)      Make sure you have smoke alarms in your home.
2)      Make sure these smoke alarms are working properly (e.g. have a working battery).
3)      Have a family fire escape plan and practice it with all family members. Every second helps.  Make a plan now!

It’s National Fire Prevention Week.  How are you going to protect your loved ones?

You can learn more about fire safety at U.S. Fire Administration.

Aileen is the BPHC director of Injury Prevention.