Special Report: Surviving the fire, how to protect yourself - WTVM.com-Columbus, GA News Weather & Sports

Special Report: Surviving the fire, how to protect yourself

Every day an average of 466 house cooking fires rip through people’s homes. (Source: WTVM File) Every day an average of 466 house cooking fires rip through people’s homes. (Source: WTVM File)
From 2011-2015, fire departments from across the U.S. responded to over an average of 170,000 home structure fires. (Source: Chandler Morgan/WTVM) From 2011-2015, fire departments from across the U.S. responded to over an average of 170,000 home structure fires. (Source: Chandler Morgan/WTVM)
Remember these tips while you are cooking to prevent a fire from starting. (Source: Chandler Morgan/WTVM) Remember these tips while you are cooking to prevent a fire from starting. (Source: Chandler Morgan/WTVM)
House fires can be broken down into several causes: Cooking, electrical, heating, smoking while inside the home, and flammable materials .(Source: Chandler Morgan/WTVM) House fires can be broken down into several causes: Cooking, electrical, heating, smoking while inside the home, and flammable materials .(Source: Chandler Morgan/WTVM)
As the temperature get colder outside, the potential for fires to turn up the heat in your home increase. (Source: Chandler Morgan/WTVM) As the temperature get colder outside, the potential for fires to turn up the heat in your home increase. (Source: Chandler Morgan/WTVM)

COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) – It can spark in seconds- and in minutes, deadly flames can surround you and your home.

“I was gone for five minutes.”

Every day an average of 466 house cooking fires rip through people’s homes, That's according to data from reports with the National Fire Protection Association. 

“Make sure you're careful when you're cooking at home,” Shores says.

From 2011 to 2015, fire departments from across the United States responded to over an average of 170,000 home structure fires, but what lit the flames of these dangerous and deadly fires?

The NFPA says the answer is in your kitchen.

We’re speaking with Columbus Fire Marshal Ricky Shores to get the inside facts on house fires both in the Fountain City and across the nation.

Shores says house fires can be broken down into several causes- cooking, electrical, heating, smoking while inside the home, and flammable materials like candles.

But Shores and the NFPA agree cooking takes the cake.

According to fire officials, 47 percent of house fires were started by cooking.

Ranges or cooktops, with or without ovens, made up for the majority of home cooking fire incidents at 62 percent and an even larger share of civilian deaths at 87 percent, according to the NFPA.

A major part of these numbers? Unattended cooking-  it's the leading factor in these fires and fire deaths. That's why Shores says you should never take your eyes of preparing your meal while in the kitchen.

The NFPA says to always cook with caution: Be on alert! If you are sleepy or are impaired don't use the stove.

Keep any flammable objects away from the cooking area. Stay in the kitchen while you are frying, grilling, or broiling food, check it regularly, and use a timer to remind you of when the food is done.

Whenever you leave the kitchen, make sure the stove is off.

But sometimes Shores say, house fires can happen without seeing it with the naked eye initially.

“If you have a problem with the electrical system in your home then make sure a certified technician comes out to take a look at that,” Shores says.

Keep children away from electric cords and outlets.

Make sure that all receptacle outlets and switches have faceplates.

Never put more than one plugin each receptacle. An outlet may have one or more receptacles— one to receive each plug.

“Another big hazard is going to be smoking materials,” Shores.

With the winter and holiday season upon us, you may be using your electrical outlets to plug in more items than usual, or even light a few more candles than you normally do.

Although small, fire officials say within a blink of an eye an unattended candle can do significant damage.

According to the NFPA, U.S. fire departments responded to an estimated 9,300 home structure fires that were started by candles.

These fires caused 86 deaths, 827 injuries, and $374 million in direct property damage.

Fire officials say an easy way to avoid a dangerous candle situation is to light and keep it away from flammable objects and always remember to put it out.

The same goes for Christmas trees, make sure to turn off the tree’s lights when you leave the house and when you go to bed.

Although Christmas tree fires are not common, when they do occur the NFPA says they are much more likely to be deadly than most other fires.

Four out of every five Christmas tree fires occurred in December or January and cause an annual 6 deaths.

If you're faced with a fire, then fire safety equipment can play a huge role in reducing the loss of life and property.

If there is a fire in your home, smoke spreads fast- and you’ll need smoke alarms to give you time to escape.

The NFPA wants you to be proactive and check to ensure your smoke alarms are properly installed and maintained. It could save your life. Make sure to test your smoke alarms at least once a month.

Another tool in fire safety equipment, a fire extinguisher.

For the purposes of this video, we won't be using real fire, but fire officials say when using your fire extinguisher you should always use proper technique.

One way to remember that is by using the PASS acronym.

Pull the trigger.

Aim the nozzle at the fire.

Squeeze, make sure you're sweeping the nozzle from side-to-side to cover the flames with the discharge.

“We’re going into the holiday season, folks are going to be cooking inside,” Shores says.

Make sure you and your family have a fire escape plan.

Walk through your home and identify all possible exits and escape routes. 

If you have children, draw a floor plan of your house, and mark two ways out of each room, including windows and doors. Then, mark a safe meeting place outside the home in case of a fire.

“You need to know how to get out of your home quickly, and know how to get out of your home at least two different ways,” Shores says.

As the temperature gets colder outside, the potential for fires to turn up the heat in your home increase.

With proper safety and planning, you can make sure the only thing lighting up in your life, is a bright and safe future.

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