In the US, 2,500 people die and 12,500 are injured in house fires each year. The average number of house fires you can expect to encounter in your lifetime is 5. You are much more likely to encounter a house fire than not to. Although most are small, one in four of those fires is reportable with the potential for serious injury and damage. House fire property damage is ridiculously expensive- estimated at $7.3 billion every year. That's almost a billion MREs- we could feed all the homeless in America with that much money, not that it is really feasible. The main thing to take away from this, is that most of these fires can be prevented.
Prevention is Key
If you are a smoker, stay aware of your butts. Make sure they are out before you dispose of them. If you are a chef, or like to pretend like one, make sure you watch your stove top and oven. Kitchen fires are the most common house fire. Small appliances, space heaters, fireplaces, and mischievous children are also prime suspects for causing fires.
I know, fire alarms, carbon monoxide alarms- they always beep their first 'battery low' beep in the middle of the night. And if you have two close to each other - good luck figuring out which one is dying it's slow death. But they save lives. It has been proven. Keep your alarms working and juiced up with backup batteries. If I gave you a 3 minute heads up that someone was coming to kick in your door to burglarize your home, would you appreciate it? I know I would be prepared and loaded to go! The average escape time once an alarm is going off is three minutes. Not enough time to gather everything you own, but enough to get your loved ones and BoB out.
Fire Spreads Quickly
Fire is fast, and most modern houses are just filled with fuel for fires. Fire can spread very quickly so you need to be sure to be quick on your feet and in your reactions. Smoke is three times more likely to kill you in a house fire than burns, so keep low if needed to avoid too much smoke inhalation.
Extinguish the Threat
If you don't have a fire extinguisher, you should get one. If you have one, or when you get one put it in a logical place, like under the sink or near the stove top. Let everyone know where you are keeping it that lives in the house. When you have a guest at your house cooking, be sure to mention where the extinguish is. It makes a pretty good joke if you let them know you believe their cooking has a chance to burn your house down without one.
Image: House fire infographic
Contact your local Fire Department