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Chapter 14. Family Matters > Making Home a Safe Haven - Pg. 151

Family Matters 151 So what happens when the light of day hits? As with so many other situations in the life of a pro- crastinator, the incentive to take action dies down when the imminent presence of danger is no longer felt. We say we'll deal with it later. What we forget is how serious the consequences can be when we make that fateful decision to put off safety issues until later. Fire Safety According to the United States Fire Administration, fire kills more Americans every year than all natural disasters combined. It's the third leading cause of accidental death in the home, with up to 80 percent of all fire deaths taking place in residences. The majority of home fires begin while cooking, usually as a result of human error rather than the mechanical failure of stoves and ovens. Heating systems are the second leading cause of residential fires, especially in single-family homes, where the heating systems are often not professionally maintained as they are in apartment build- ings. Fortunately, there's one simple thing you can do to increase your chances of stopping a fire before it gets out of hand or of escaping one that has already gotten going: If you don't already have them, install smoke alarms in your house or apartment and keep them functioning by keeping them clean and changing the batteries when needed. Fire experts say that smoke alarms are the single most important means of preventing residential fire fatalities; they reduce the risk of dying by nearly 50 percent. It's estimated that over 40 percent of residential fires and three-fifths of household fire deaths occur in homes with no smoke alarms. Matter of Fact