Home Fire Safety: Prevent Bedroom Fires

Bedrooms are where fires often start. More than 600 lives were lost due to fire that started in the bedroom. Common causes of these fires are electrical devices that were left unattended, or misuse of electrical equipments such as extension cords. Other fire triggers include children playing with lighters and matches, smoking in bed, and arson.  These are some basic reminders to keep you safe and prevent damage of property and loss of life. Bedroom fire safety is not difficult. Giving attention to small details can make a big impact, and will give you safety and peace of mind. Emergency preparedness and knowledge of fire safety are a must in every household in order to protect your family and your property. 

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  • Children are at a higher risk for deaths caused by bedroom fires. They are prone to playing with matches and lighters. In their bedroom, minimize materials that are easily combustible like paper piles, rags, curtain, etc. Inform your child of the dangers of playing with fire.
  • Do not plug cords near beds, curtains, clothes, and rags. Do not trap cords near the wall or place them under carpets and rags. Also, do not leave laptops on your bed.
  • Never smoke in bed – No matter how conscious you are.
  • Install smoke alarms in all bedrooms for safety, and practice a floor escape plan from the bedroom to the outside.
  • If you are using candles to help you fall asleep, extinguish it before you get sleepy. If you don’t, you might forget it and find yourself trapped in fire inside your room. Furthermore, keep it away from curtains, bed sheets, clothes and rags and other flammable materials like books and papers.
  • Take extra precautions when using space heaters, do not put anything on top of them, and keep flammable materials away from them.
  • Lamp shades, alarm clocks, and other materials that use electricity should be used with extra caution. If possible, use a battery-operated alarm clock.  If you have to re-charge your gadgets, do it during the day.

General Bedroom Fire Safety

  • Don’t smoke in bed.
  • Program triple zero ‘000’ into your phone in the bedroom.
  • Light globes are hot. Fit bedside lamps with a compact fluorescent bulb. Don’t put material over the lamp.

Electric Blankets

All electric blankets sold in Australia must comply with strict safety standards. Careless use can cause electric shock, fire, possibly even death. Most accidents are caused by misuse or by blankets which are worn and old and have not been checked regularly.

  • Leave your blanket on the bed, never fold for storage as it may cause damage to the wiring.
  • Make sure your blanket is flat and tied firmly to the bed.
  • Never sleep with your electric blanket turned on.
  • Don’t leave your electric blanket turned on when you are not at home.
  • Run your hands over the blanket regularly and if you find any hot spots turn the blanket off and have it checked.
  • Do not place heavy objects on your electric blanket.
  • Always read and follow the manufacturer instructions;
  • Never use an electric blanket with a water bed;
  • Leave blanket on the bed, never fold for storage as it may damage your blanket;
  • Make sure your electric blanket is laid flat and tied firmly to the bed;
  • Sleeping with your electric blanket on is extremely dangerous as the blanket can over heat from your body weight;
  • Always switch it off your before going to bed or leaving the house;
  • Placing heavy objects on your electric blanket can damage the wiring in the blanket and could cause a fire;
  • Run your hand over the blanket periodically and if you suspect overheating, turn it off and have the blanket checked by an authorised repairer.
  • Never place a baby on an electric blanket – they can dehydrate and get burns at fairly low temperatures.

Helps You Sleep Soundly at Night

Each year, fire claims the lives of 3,500 Americans and injures approximately 18,300. Bedrooms are a common area of fire origin. Nearly 600 lives are lost to fires that start in bedrooms. Many of these fires are caused by misuse or poor maintenance of electrical devices, such as overloading extension cords or using portable space heaters too close to combustibles. Many other bedroom fires are caused by children who play with matches and lighters, careless smoking among adults, and arson.

The United States Fire Administration (USFA) and the Sleep Products Safety Council (SPSC) would like you to know that there are simple steps you can take to prevent the loss of life and property resulting from bedroom fires.

Kids and Fire: A Very Bad Combination

Children are one of the highest risk groups for deaths in residential fires. At home, children usually play with fire – lighters, matches and other ignitables – in bedrooms, in closets, and under beds. These are “secret” places where there are a lot of things that catch fire easily.

  • Children of all ages set over 35,000 fires annually.
  • Every year over 400 children nine years and younger die in home fires.
  • Keep matches and lighters locked up and away from children. Check under beds and in closets for burnt matches, evidence your child may be playing with matches.
  • Teach your child that fire is a tool, not a toy.

Appliances Need Special Attention

Bedrooms are the most common room in the home where electrical fires start. Electrical fires are a special concern during winter months which call for more indoor activities and increases in lighting, heating, and appliance use. Faulty appliances are a major cause of fires. Have appliances, like electric blankets, heaters, air conditioners and fans, checked regularly by a qualified tradesperson.

  • Do not trap electric cords against walls where heat can build up.
  • Take extra care when using portable heaters. Keep bedding, clothes, curtains and other combustible items at least three feet away from space heaters.
  • Only use lab-approved electric blankets and warmers. Check to make sure the cords are not frayed.

Tuck Yourself In For A Safe Sleep

  • Never smoke in bed.
  • Replace mattresses made before the 2007 Federal Mattress Flammability Standard. Mattresses made since then are required by law to be safer.

Finally, having working smoke alarms dramatically increases your chances of surviving a fire. Place at least one smoke alarm on each level of your home and in halls outside bedrooms. And remember to practice a home escape plan frequently with your family.

Every year, almost 1,000 smokers and non-smokers are killed in home fires caused by cigarettes and other smoking materials. The U.S. Fire Administration is working to help prevent home fire deaths and injuries caused by smoking materials. Fires caused by cigarettes and other smoking materials are preventable. You can make a difference!

If you smoke or live with someone who smokes, learn the facts. A lit cigarette accidentally dropped onto a chair or bed, or hot cigarette ashes or matches tossed away before they are completely out, can cause a large fire in seconds.

Putting out a cigarette the right way only takes seconds, too. It is up to you to make sure your cigarette is put out, all the way, every time.

One-in-four people killed in home fires is not the smoker whose cigarette caused the fire.

  • More than one third were children of the smokers.
  • Twenty-five percent were neighbors or friends of the smokers.

Smoking & Home Fire Action Steps

  • If you smoke, smoke outside.
  • Wherever you smoke, use deep, sturdy ashtrays.
  • Make sure cigarettes and ashes are out.
  • Check for cigarette butts.
  • Never smoke in a home where oxygen is used.
  • If you smoke, fire-safe cigarettes are better.

Electrical Hazards

Overloaded electrical circuits, faulty electrical equipment and misuse of electrical equipment are common causes of fire. The following fire safety tips are recommended.

  • Never run extension cords under carpets or rugs. Localised heating may cause a short circuit that could result in fire.
  • Replace any frayed or cracked extension cords.
  • Repair or discard malfunctioning electrical appliances immediately.
  • Replacement fuses must be of the correct load capacity for the circuit. A qualified electrician should identify the cause of repeatedly blowing fuses or tripping circuit breakers.
  • Install earth leakage circuit breakers to all power circuits for additional life safety protection.
  • Turn power off at the power point for electrical equipment that does not require a power supply when not in use.
  • Provide adequate ventilation around all electrical equipment to avoid excessive heat build up.
  • Use all electrical equipment in accordance with the manufacturer instructions.
Other Resources:
  1. http://www.usfa.fema.gov/citizens/home_fire_prev/bedroom.shtm
  2. http://www.ashbusters.net/bedroom-fire-safety/
  3. http://lakeville.patch.com/articles/lakeville-fire-talks-bedroom-fire-safety
  4. http://certifiedalarms.com/blog/bedroom-fire-safety/
  5. http://www.derbys-fire.gov.uk/news/news-items/is-your-childs-bedroom-safe-from-the-dangers-of-electrical-fires
  6. http://www.derbys-fire.gov.uk/news/news-items/is-your-childs-bedroom-safe-from-the-dangers-of-electrical-fires\
  7. http://www.bedbathstore.com/firesafety.html
  8. http://www.info4fire.com/news-content/full/hotel-bedroom-fire-door-determination
  9. http://www.disastercenter.com/guide/fire.html
  10. http://www.ready.gov/home-fires

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