Summer is coming to an end and a new school year is about to begin. As students return to campus and off-campus apartments across Massachusetts, the state designates September Campus Fire Safety Month. Through fire safety education, the Commonwealth aims to reduce occurrences of fire and the resulting losses of life or property damage.
According to the Department of Fire Services (DFS), 39 Massachusetts civilians died due to fires in 2012. In fact, 69% of all residential building fires originated in the kitchen due to unsafe cooking practices that year.
You can help prevent fires by following these fire safety tips:
- Candle Safety
Candles caused 126 fires, seven civilian injuries, eight firefighter injuries, and an estimated $4 million in damages in 2012. To ensure candle fire safety:
- Burn candles within a one-foot circle that is free of anything that can burn;
- Before you go out, blow it out; never leave candles burning unattended;
- Use a non-combustible saucer or candleholder; and,
- Keep candles out of reach of children and pets.
- Dryer Fire Prevention
In 2012, 115 clothes dryer fires caused seven civilian injuries and $3.4 million in damages. To practice dryer fire prevention:
- Clean the dryer filter screen after each load to prevent lint buildup;
- Stay home when the dryer is in use;
- Clean the outside dryer vents twice a year to rid any accumulated dust and lint; and,
- Vacuum the motor area around the dryer often – the dust, lint, and anything left too close to the dryer area can ignite if it gets hot.
- Smoke Alarm Safety
Home fire deaths have been cut in half since smoke alarms came on the market in the early 1970s. Today, 40% of the fire deaths that occur each year in the U.S. take place in the four percent of homes without smoke alarms. Working smoke and carbon monoxide alarms are required by law to be installed on every level of the home, including habitable portions of basements and attics, in most residences.To maintain functioning smoke alarms:
- Vacuum or blow out dust from the alarms once a month;
- Push the test button once a month;
- Change smoke alarms batteries at least once a year; and,
- Don’t paint smoke alarms!
- Electrical Safety
From 2008 to 2012, Massachusetts fire departments reported 2,774 home fires that were caused by electrical problems. Electrical fires were the leading cause of fire deaths in 2011 and tied for the second most leading cause in 2012. To smarten up on electrical fire safety:
- Avoid overloading outlets – Plug only one high-wattage appliance into each receptacle outlet at a time;
- Replace or repair loose or frayed cords on all electrical devices;
- Shut off the circuit if outlets or switches feel warm and have them checked by an electrician; and,
- Always unplug an electrical cord by pulling on the plug and not the cord.
- Practicing Fire Drills
Most fatal fires occur in the home. Planning and practicing home fire drills can reduce the risk of injury or death. Conduct fire escape drills frequently, at least twice a year, so these actions become automatic behaviors.
- Hold a family or roommate fire drill during the day (while everyone is awake) and another one at night (while everyone is asleep) to see how they will respond.
- Make sure windows are open and exits aren’t blocked.
- Following the drill, review and make adjustments to the plan.
- If someone in the household is too young or physically impaired to escape on their own, establish a plan for assistance.
It is important for students and all Massachusetts residents to know what to do in case of a fire. Become educated about fire safety and prevention methods to help avoid injuries and losses. Have a safe and happy year!
Start a new semester without the dangers of a fire. Share your fire safety stories and tips with us by tweeting@MassGov.
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