This Home Fire Safety Checklist was developed by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), an independent regulatory agency of the U.S. Government.
The Commission has four statutory missions:
to protect the public from unreasonable risks of injury associated with consumer products;
to assist consumers in evaluating the comparative safety of consumer products;
to develop uniform safety standards for consumer products and minimize conflicting state and local regulations; and
to promote research and investigation into the causes and prevention of product-related deaths, injuries and illnesses.
It has jurisdiction over more than 15,000 consumer products used in the home, school and in public places. Among the products not subject to the Commission's authority are food, drugs, automobiles, tobacco, and fire arms. The Commission administers five safety laws: The Consumer Product Safety Act, the Federal Hazardous Substances Act, the Flammable Fabrics Act, the Poison Prevention Packaging Act, and the Refrigerator Act.
CPSC began operation on May 14, 1973. It is headed by three Commissioners appointed by the President with the advice and consent of the Senate.
On October 29, 1973, the Commission instituted a toll-free Hotline to make it easier for consumers to report product-related injuries or potentially hazardous products, and to get information on recalled products seven days a week, 24 hours a day. You may call the Commission's Hotline from anywhere in the continental U.S. by dialing 1-800-638-2772. A teletypewriter for the hearing impaired is also available (including Alaska and Hawaii) on a special Hotline number 1-800-638-8270. To order publications, write to the Office of Information and Public Affairs, Washington. DC 20207.
The United States has one of the highest fire death and injury rates in the world. Fire -- in the form of flames and smoke -- is the second leading cause of accidental death in the home.
More than 4,000 people die each year in home fires. Every year, there are more than 500,000 residential fires serious enough to be reported to fire departments. More than 90 percent of residential fire deaths and injuries result from fires in one and two family houses and apartments. Property losses exceed 4 billion dollars annually, and the long term emotional damage to victims and their loved ones is incalculable.
The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has targeted the principal consumer products associated with fires, namely home heating devices, upholstered furniture, bedding, cigarette lighters, matches, and wearing apparel. The Commission is participating in a special Congressionally authorized study of cigarette-ignited fires, which cause more deaths than any other kind of fire. The Commission continues to push for extensive use of smoke detectors. With the help of concerned consumers, the number or residential fires has declined about 30 percent since 1980.
The CPSC is fulfilling its role to make products inherently more fire safe. We recognize that much more can be done to cut down on the needlessly high and tragic fire toll by an alert and informed public. Many of the injuries associated with flammable products result from hazards that are overlooked. Fire experts agree that one key to fewer fires is a greater awareness of how accidents can be prevented. By spotting these hazards and taking some simple precautions, many fires and fire-related injuries can be prevented.
Use this checklist as a safety guide to spot possible fire safety problems which may be present in your home. It is a first step in reducing the risk of fire. Check YES or NO to answer each question. If you check NO to any question, the potential hazard should be corrected to avoid the risk of injury or death.
How safe is your home from fire?
PRODUCT SAFETY, IT'S NO ACCIDENT!
Even though there has been a decrease in fires associated with supplemental heaters, it is important to remember that about 120,000 residential fires still occur annually with the use of these heaters, or about 22 percent of all residential fires. These fires kill more than 600 people. Annually there are thousands of contact burn injuries and hundreds of carbon monoxide poisonings.
Wood Stoves and Fireplaces
You should be able to respond "yes" to the following safety statements.
1. The wood stove or fireplace has been installed according to existing building codes and manufacturer's instructions.
2. The chimney and stovepipe are checked frequently during the heating season for creosote buildup and are cleaned when necessary.
3. The stove sits on a non-combustible or on a code-specified or listed floor protector.
4. Combustibles such as curtains, chairs, firewood, etc., are at least three feet away from the stove.
5. Only proper fuel is used in the stove.
6. A metal container with a tight-fitting lid is used for ash removal.
Do not use wood burning stoves and fireplaces unless they are properly installed and meet building codes.
Follow the label instructions on the stove which recommends an inspection twice monthly. Have chimneys inspected and cleaned by a professional chimney sweep. Creosote is an unavoidable product of wood burning stoves. Creosote builds up in chimney flues and can cause a chimney fire. To cut down on creosote buildup, avoid smoldering fires.
Use a code-specified or listed floor protector. It should extend 18 inches beyond the stove on all sides. This will reduce the possibility of the floor being ignited.
Follow the instructions on the stove label for proper location of the stove from combustible walls.
Never burn trash in a stove because this could over heat the stove. Gasoline and other flammable liquids should never be used to start wood stove fires. Gasoline will ignite and explode. Use coal only if designated as appropriate by the manufacturer.