A few facts at the household level

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"A Few Facts at the Household Level" report (PDF, 73 KB)

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Report: NFPA's "A Few facts at the Household Level"
Author: Fire Analysis and Research Division
Issued: July 2009

Have you ever wondered what your personal risk of fire is over your lifetime? Or how the fire risk from smoking – when you’re not the smoker – compares with the other risks to non-smokers from smoking? These and many other examples of fire statistics at the individual or household level are presented as a collection of conversation-starters in this short report.

Introduction

Chances are you will have a fire

  • Number of home fires your household can expect in an average lifetime: 5
  • Chances your household will have a reported home fire in an average lifetime: 1 in 4
  • Chances that someone in your household will suffer a fire injury in an average lifetime:  1 in 10
  • Chances that someone in your household will suffer an injury in a reported fire in an average lifetime:  1 in 89

Households can expect to average a home fire every 15 years or five fires in an average lifetime. (Life expectancy now averages 78 years in the U.S., according to the Statistical Abstract.) That is one of the results of the latest survey of unreported fires, conducted by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission in 2004-2005, when combined with NFPA’s annual tracking of reported fires.

Most of these will be small fires resulting in little or no damage and will not be reported to a fire department, but even a trivial fire causes at least some temporary anxiety. 

Your household has a one in four chance of having a home fire large enough to be reported to a fire department during an average lifetime. 

Someone in your household also has a one in ten chance of suffering a fire injury in a home fire an average lifetime. More likely than not, this will be a minor injury suffered in a fire that you did not report to the fire department. You might not even remember the injury a month after it happened. About one out of nine of these injuries will occur in a reported home fire, which means someone in your household has a one in 89 chance of suffering a fire injury in a reported home fire in an average lifetime.