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  • New report finds house fires to be the leading cause of civilian fire fatalities

New report finds house fires to be the leading cause of civilian fire fatalities

More than 2,500 people died in residential fires that resulted in their death between 2011 and 2013. During that period of time, 83 percent of civilian fire fatalities were attributed to house fires, according to 

The U.S. Fire Administration's most recent Civilian Fire Fatalities in Residential Buildings report discovered that most fatal fires occurred late at night or during the early morning hours. This is likely because most people are sleeping during that time, which was considered a prime contributing factor in the report. Fatal house fires were also found to happen most frequently during the winter months, peaking in January. Human factors contributing to fatality included being asleep at the time of the fire, as well as having a physical disability or alcohol impairment.

Fire pattern and escape issues were among the top factors contributing to house fire casualties.

The three main origins of residential fires were unintentional actions, handling a heat source irresponsibly and smoking.

Here are some additional findings mentioned in the report:

  • There are 372,900 residential building fires annually.
  • Thermal burns and smoke inhalation were the main symptoms that led to death, accounting for about 90 percent of all fatalities in residential fires.
  • Bedrooms were the specific location where most civilian fire fatalities occurred in residential buildings, totaling around 50 percent.
  • The time period between 11 p.m. and 7 a.m. accounted for an estimated 52 percent of fatalities.
  • At the time of their deaths, 36 percent of fire victims in residential buildings were attempting to escape and an additional 33 percent were sleeping.
  • "Other unintentional" actions make up an estimated 15 percent and "smoking" accounted for 14 percent, making them the leading reported causes of fatal fires in residential buildings.
  • Adults victims ages 50 to 69 were ranked at 36 percent of civilian fire fatalities in residential buildings.

Having access to quality claims resources is key to helping affected policyholders and their families recover quickly after a fire event.

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