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According to estimates by the United States Fire Department, around 364,500 residential building fires occurred in 2011. These incidents were accompanied by around 13,900 injuries and 2,450 deaths.

Building fires are one of the leading causes behind burn injuries. They can be extremely dangerous, especially in dense areas. However, both fatalities and injuries can be prevented if adequate precautionary measures are taken.

  • Keep doorways, hallways, and staircases clean and clear.
  • Make sure all electrical appliances are in good condition and don’t pose a fire hazard.
  • Avoid overloading outlets.
  • Store flammable materials in a safe area isolated from the rest of the building.
  • Keep inventory of fire safety equipment, such as smoke detectors and fire extinguishers, and inspect them to ensure they are in working condition.

Most people know the basic mantras behind fire safety such as “Stop, Drop, and Roll” and “Call 911,” but they may not know how to protect themselves in the most precarious of situations. If you are caught in a burning building, be sure to follow these guidelines:

  • Feel doors for heat before opening them.
  • Stay low and keep your head out of the smoke to reduce inhalation exposure.
  • Remain in a safe room if evacuation is not possible. Stuff towels or sheets in the spaces beneath doors to keep smoke out.
  • Never use elevators in a burning building; use the stairs instead.