Is Your Bedroom Fire Safe?

According to the US Fire Administration (USFA) each year about 4000 deaths and 20,000 injuries are caused by fire. Bedrooms are a common area where these fire incidents originate. Nearly 600 deaths are caused by bedroom fires. Thus bedroom fire safety becomes an important issue in any home fire safety program. To prevent fires that originate from the bedroom one must know the causes and remedies of bedroom fires.

The highest risk group in case of home fires are young children. Most young children are fascinated by fire and tend to play with matches and lighters. They do so inside bedrooms, closets and under the beds. These are the secret places where they may try to play with matches,lighters and other ignitables. It is estimated that children of all ages start about 35,000 fires annually and every year about 400 children nine years or younger die in home fires. You should firmly tell your children not to play with fire. You can show them examples of devastation caused by fire. Keep all matches and lighters locked away and always out of the reach of children. Look for evidences of children playing with matches in their rooms, in closets and under the beds.

Most electrical fires start in bedrooms. Electrical fires occur more frequently in the winter due to the increased use of lighting, heating and other appliances. They are caused by overloading cords or placing space heater near combustible items. Portable heaters should be kept away from bedding, clothing, towels, curtains and other combustible items. Electrical fires can also be caused by trapping electrical cords against walls where heat can build up. Not using lab approved electric warmers and blankets is another major cause.

Mattresses manufactured before the 1973 Federal Mattress Flammability Standard, enacted by the the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), came into force, may not be safe. Mattresses manufactured after this standard became effective, are required by law to be safer. Such mattresses resist ignition from smoldering cigarettes and similar small flames. The USFA estimates that every year about 20,800 mattress/bedding fires occur causing about 380 fatalities, 2,200 injuries and $104 million in property losses. A majority of these were caused by adults smoking and children playing with fire or smoking on the bed. This shows that although today’s mattresses are safer they can still catch fire. So caution is a must.

Smoking in bed is one of the major causes of bedroom fires. Cigarettes that are not fully extinguished continue to smolder and may start a fire. Overturning of ashtrays while smoking on the bed can also cause a fire, as also flying embers from a lighted cigarette or cigar. Many people fall asleep while smoking in bed and start a fire. This can happen on a couch also when people fall asleep while smoking. So it is best to avoid smoking in bed. The moment you start feeling drowsy you should put out the cigarette or cigar.

Bedroom fires are dangerous because they may start when residents are asleep. Carbon monoxide which is odorless, can kill when people are asleep, without warning. It is usually too late by the time sleeping residents come to know about a fire, because in many cases the fire spreads very fast. So you must make sure that smoke alarms are fitted in all bedrooms, tested regularly and their batteries changed twice a year. Only lab approved electrical appliances must be used. All frayed electrical cords should be replaced. All family members, especially children, must be aware of the bedroom fire hazards. As the response can be slow when people are suddenly woken from their sleep, an escape procedure, to be followed automatically in case of fire, in bedrooms and elsewhere in the house, must be previously set up.

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