NFPA: Americans Underestimating Danger of Fires


A survey conducted by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) found that many Americans underestimate the risk of fire. Out of all those surveyed, 31 percent said they felt more at risk for tornadoes compared to 27 percent for fires. Hurricanes followed with 14 percent, earthquakes (9 percent) and terrorist attacks (5 percent).

The survey was conducted as part of NFPA’s annual Fire Prevention Week, which started Oct. 3.  This year’s theme is “It’s Fire Prevention Week: Test Your Smoke Alarms,” encouraging people to test their smoke alarms more often.

Statistics show that Americans should be more afraid of fires than tornadoes. In 2003, fire departments responded to 1.6 million fires in the United States. Fires killed 3,925 people in 2003, while the average number of deaths caused by tornadoes is 70 people a year.

Fires also cause significant property damage compared to tornadoes and hurricanes. In 2003, $12 billion was lost due to fires. Damages from tornadoes average more than $1 billion and under $3 billion for hurricanes.

Of all the disasters, many participants (31 percent) felt they are most prepared for fires, but their answers to survey questions suggest otherwise. While a majority (96 percent) own smoke alarms, many do not have escape plans in case of a fire.

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