House Fires and Smoke Detectors: A Look at the Statistics in Maryland and Delaware

Stop, drop, and roll. That’s taught every year to school children. They’re taught the importance of having a safety plan in case of fire, to set a place to meet if the family gets separated, and are often treated with a ride on a fire truck and/or a tour of the firehouse. However, as adults, often the things that the children are taught are overlooked or ignored in the hustle of everyday life. 

A recent study by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) found that there were an estimated 357,500 house fires in the United States in 2021. These fires caused 2,840 civilian deaths and 11,100 civilian injuries. According to the National Safety Council, fire departments respond to a fire call every 23 seconds, and one home fire injury occurs every 47 minutes. Sadly, one home fire-related death occurs approximately every 3 hours. 

The study also found that smoke detectors were present in only 74% of the homes where fires occurred. This means that 26% of homes were without smoke detectors, which could have prevented many of the deaths and injuries that occurred in house fires.

The study’s findings are particularly alarming in Maryland and Delaware, where the rates of house fires are higher than the national average. In Maryland, there were an estimated 12,000 house fires in 2021, while Delaware had an estimated 1,000 house fires.

These fires caused a combined total of 170 deaths and 600 injuries. In Maryland, smoke detectors were present in only 70% of the homes where fires occurred, while in Delaware, they were present in only 65% of the homes where fires occurred.

The study’s findings suggest that there is a need for more education and outreach about the importance of smoke detectors. Smoke detectors can save lives if installed and used properly.

Smoke Detector Installation and Maintenance

Smoke detectors should be installed on every level of your home, including the basement and attic. They should also be installed outside each sleeping area and in hallways. On levels without bedrooms, smoke detectors should be mounted in each room as well as near all stairwells. 

Smoke detectors should be mounted on ceilings or high on walls, at least 6 inches from the ceiling or light fixtures. They should be a minimum of 10 feet from stoves and other cooking appliances to minimize false alarms while cooking.

Do not place smoke alarms near doors or windows where drafts can interfere with their function. Also, never paint a smoke detector or cover it with stickers or other decorations, as these can keep them from functioning properly.

Smoke detectors should be tested monthly to make sure they are working properly. You can test your smoke detector by pressing the test button. If the alarm sounds, the detector is working properly. 

The batteries should be changed twice a year – daylight savings is the perfect time to replace the batteries and test to make sure new batteries are functioning properly. Putting reminders on your calendar or in your cell phone is also a great way to make sure you’re keeping smoke detectors functioning well. 

Smoke detectors should be replaced every 10 years. The manufacturer’s date will be printed on the back of the detector.

When you replace your smoke detector, make sure to install a new one in the same location as the old one. You should also test the new smoke detector to make sure it is working properly.

Sprinklers Create Another Safety Layer

Home fire sprinklers are also an important safety feature that can help protect lives and property in the event of a home fire. They provide an early warning system to alert occupants, while also providing additional time for evacuation. Additionally, home fire sprinklers are effective at controlling fires before they spread throughout the house and become harder to extinguish. They also reduce damage caused by smoke and water due to their targeted application directly onto the source of a blaze. Homeowners should consider investing in this vital safety measure as it can be one of their most valuable resources when it comes to protecting their family from harm during a dangerous situation like a housefire.

Close That Door

At night, make sure all bedroom doors are closed, and be sure to close all doors behind you when you are escaping a fire. This will prevent the spread of smoke and fire throughout your home and give you time to be rescued if trapped by a fire.

Remember, while life gets busy and it’s not always easy to prioritize if you make fire safety and smoke detector maintenance a part of your routine you can help keep your home and family safe. Nearly 40 people in the state of Maryland have died in fire deaths just this year so far, there have been 8 fires in that state that have killed more than 1 person. A fire may occur, but the early warning of a functional smoke detector can make all the difference.