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Risky Fire Practices Decreasing Nationwide

The Hartford Home Fire Index, published by The Hartford, a property and casualty insurance provider, has released it third index tracking the probability of home fires in the top 150 metropolitan areas, along with other data from the U.S. Census Bureau and the U.S. Fire Administration National Incident Reporting System (NFIRS). 

The index, which also polls adults about their fire safety practices, revealed that behaviors known to cause home fines markedly declined since the months immediately preceding the pandemic including: 

  • Leaving a lit candle near drapes or other flammable household items (75% decrease). 
  • Falling asleep with a fire burning in a fireplace (64% decrease). 
  • Leaving matches and lighters in the open with children present (55% decrease). 
  • Overloading electrical outlets (45% decrease). 

The survey also noted that more respondents are taking proactive steps that can prevent or limit a fire should one occur than the last time the survey was conducted. Smoke detector use increased 46%, regular battery changes increased by 27%, and having a home escape plan increased 16%. 

“While we are encouraged by the improvements we have seen in fire safety and prevention, we know there is still work to be done,” said The Hartford’s Chief Marketing & Communications Officer Claire Burns. “The Hartford is committed to reducing the frequency and impact of home fires in the U.S. through marquee educational initiatives like our Junior Fire Marshal Program that equips children with lifesaving lessons about fire safety. Children play a significant role in keeping homes safe from fire, and we are proud to provide parents and educators with the tools and resources they need to teach the next generation about reducing fire risk.” 

According to the index, ranking the top 150 U.S. cities with the highest home fire risk, the top five cities are: Modesto, California; Shreveport, Louisiana; Fresno, California; Montgomery, Alabama; and Memphis, Tennessee. 

This is the third Home Fire Index from The Hartford. Previous versions of the index were released in 2017 and 2020. Significant changes in the 2023 rankings compared to 2020 include: 

According to The Hartford, a home fire is reported in the U.S. every 93 seconds. The Hartford’s Junior Fire Marshal program, one of the country’s oldest corporate-sponsored public education programs, has committed $1.5 million over the next three years to local fire departments, and will educate 1.5 million kindergarten through third grade students on fire safety and prevention. The funding and resources will go to the 150 U.S. cities identified in The Hartford’s Home Fire Index. 

Click here to view the index, including metropolitan rankings. 

About Author: Kyle G. Horst

Kyle G. Horst is a reporter for DS News and MReport. A graduate of the University of Texas at Tyler, he has worked for a number of daily, weekly, and monthly publications in South Dakota and Texas. With more than 10 years of experience in community journalism, he has won a number of state, national, and international awards for his writing and photography including best newspaper design by the Associated Press Managing Editors Group and the international iPhone photographer of the year by the iPhone Photography Awards. He most recently worked as editor of Community Impact Newspaper covering a number of Dallas-Ft. Worth communities on a hyperlocal level. Contact Kyle G. at [email protected].

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