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Learn the Sounds of Fire Safety to Avoid Danger; African Americans Have the Highest Rate of Fire Deaths and Injuries

Release Date: October 04, 2021

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Knowing what to do if there’s a house fire can save lives. Fire Prevention Week is October 3 through 9, and CPSC and the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) want to encourage everyone to listen to the sounds of safety from smoke and CO alarms. That means:

  • When the alarm “beeps,” respond immediately and get out of the home as quickly as possible.
  • When the alarm “chirps,” it’s time to change the batteries, or install a new alarm.
  • If there is someone in the household who is deaf or hard of hearing, install bed shaker and strobe light alarms that will alert that person to fire danger.

Based on CPSC staff estimates for 2016 through 2018, there are about 360,000 home fires every year, leading to roughly 2,400 deaths. In addition, it is estimated that there are nearly 10,400 injuries per year. Research also shows that across all races, African Americans have the highest rate of fire deaths and injuries—nearly twice the overall death rate, and more than twice the overall injury rate. According to CPSC’s Residential Fire Loss Estimates report, although African Americans represent 13% of the population, they represent an estimated 24% of the home fire deaths and 27% of the home fire injuries.

“In light of this data, we must do better collectively, at state and local levels, to inform the public—and African Americans, in particular--about lifesaving, fire safety messaging,” says Acting CPSC Chairman Bob Adler. “One way to do this is to encourage local community leadership to implement outreach strategies that both communicate and encourage proactively these fire safety guidelines at home.”

CPSC urges everyone to plan and practice regularly these simple steps to have a fighting chance at avoiding injury and death when faced with a fire emergency.

  • Create an escape plan. Make sure there are two ways out of each room, as well as a path to the outside from each exit.
  • Make sure everyone in the home knows the plan and practices the plan.
  • Pick a family meeting place outside.
  • Once outside, stay outside.
  • Call 911.
  • Ensure that working smoke alarms are inside and outside of every sleeping area and on every level of the home.
  • Make sure there are working CO alarms on every level of the home.
  • Test all smoke and CO alarms monthly.
  • Have working fire sprinklers.

Small children in the home, and the elderly will need additional assistance during a fire emergency. For more information, check out our multigenerational tool kit.

View CPSC’s fire safety PSA for older consumers here.

More fire safety tips and information are provided in our fire safety information center.

Release Number
22-001

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) is charged with protecting the public from unreasonable risks of injury or death associated with the use of thousands of types of consumer products. Deaths, injuries, and property damage from consumer product incidents cost the nation more than $1 trillion annually. CPSC’s work to ensure the safety of consumer products has contributed to a decline in the rate of deaths and injuries associated with consumer products over the past 40 years.

Federal law bars any person from selling products subject to a publicly-announced voluntary recall by a manufacturer or a mandatory recall ordered by the Commission.

For lifesaving information:

Media Contact

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Phone: (301) 504-7908
Spanish: (301) 504-7800

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