Fire is dangerous. It’s also one of the greatest forces in human civilization. Since the dawn of humanity, we have harnessed fire to cook food, warm ourselves, protect our families and power engines. Fire pervades our daily lives, and that means we place ourselves continually at risk.
How great is that risk? Thankfully, it’s not as grave a concern in the United States as in some poorer, less-developed nations. Also, the U.S. Fire Administration reports the nation has seen reported fires follow a downward trend over the past decade. But there are still plenty of reasons to be careful.
8 informative fire statistics
According to the World Health Organization, approximately 180,000 people die of burns every year. Most of those deaths happen in poorer countries. But that certainly doesn’t mean Americans are immune.
As the U.S. Fire Administration reports:
- More than 3,000 Americans have died from fires in each of the past 10 years, except in 2012. In that year, we were fortunate to lose only 2,855 to burns.
- Despite our wealth and safety measures, the number of fire-related deaths in the United States has actually trended upward over the past decade.
- On the other hand, the number of fire-related injuries has trended downward. This owes partially to the regulation of consumer products and to the fact fewer people are smoking.
- The most heavily populated states—California, Texas and New York—lead the nation in the total number of fire-related deaths.
- People are more likely to suffer from fires in West Virginia, Alaska and Arkansas, which had the most fire deaths as a percentage of their population.
- Most fire-related deaths happen at home. While just over 40% of fires take place outdoors, compared to 30% in homes, home fires account for three-quarters of all fire-related deaths. This number is even higher in Louisiana, where residential fires account for 84.6% of all fire-related deaths.
- The leading cause for residential fires is cooking. Cooking flames accounted for more than half of all building fires.
- When you look at the types of fires that lead to deaths and injuries, cooking fires take a backseat to carelessness, smoking and electrical malfunctions.
These fire statistics can serve as a good reminder of the dangers that fires always pose. Paying attention to your surroundings may help you avoid getting burned.
Fire isn’t the only thing that burns
It’s important to remember these statistics don’t paint the full picture about possible burn injuries and deaths. Fire isn’t the only thing that burns.
Many burns result from contact with scalding liquids, surges of electricity and various chemicals. But they all share one thing in common with fire-related burns: they’re almost always preventable.