6 On Your Side: Consumer Confidence, Fire Prevention & Safety

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(ABC 6 News) – October is National Fire Prevention Month. With smoke alarms becoming more prevalent and better building codes, the number of house fires reported in the United States has dropped by half since 1980.

But, the fires that do happen are much deadlier, with the number of deaths rising since 2010.

Consumer Reports says house fires today burn faster, hotter, and are deadlier than ever. But why?

One main reason: time.

“40 years ago, you would have had 17 minutes to get out of a house on fire. Today? Just 3 minutes,” says Consumer Reports’ John Galeotafiore.

So what’s changed? In part, those popular open-plan houses. With fewer walls and doors, fires travel faster and more freely.

Another culprit? Today’s furniture.

“A lot of homes today have furnishings made with synthetic materials, like plastic or particleboard, which burn much quicker than say solid wood,” says Galeotafiore.

Some classic advice still holds true today: have at least one smoke detector and one class “ABC” fire extinguisher per floor of your home, and check them monthly.

If you need to use your extinguisher, use the PASS method. Pull the pin, Aim the nozzle toward the base of the fire, Squeeze the trigger, and Sweep from side to side.

Other helpful tips:

Don’t leave lithium-ion batteries, like the ones for your power tools, charging overnight. Be sure to only use the charger that came with it.

If you have an outlet that doesn’t grip the plug, it’s time to change it. Replace your worn-out outlets with an arc-fault circuit interrupter also known as an AFCI outlet.

Also, have an escape plan in place and rehearse it with everyone in your household.

Consumer Reports also recommends keeping your bedroom door closed at night, this can help keep fires from spreading.