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Mobile home living – how to stay safe from fire

Risk of dying in a mobile/manufactured home fire is 30 to 44 percent higher
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The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection wants all homeowners to protect themselves from fire, but says the risks of a blaze for those living in mobile or manufactured homes is even higher.

 “Having your home catch on fire is devastating enough, but if you live in a mobile or modular home your risk of a house fire is increased due to the types of materials used in its construction.,” Cal Fire Unit Chief Kelly Keenan of the Amador-El Dorado Unit said in a release. “Your risk of dying in a mobile or manufactured home fire is 30 to 44 percent higher than someone who lives in a one- or two-family wood-framed dwelling. So what can you do to prevent yourself from becoming a statistic?”

Cal Fire answers that question in these three categories discussing the types of structures, facts and safety tips.

First off what is the difference?

-- Mobile homes or manufactured homes are a single structure on a chassis, which is towed to a site and then placed on a foundation, which may or may not be permanent. They may be located in “trailer parks,” where resident pays a monthly fee for, among other things, the hookups for water, electricity and sewage.

-- Modular homes are prefabricated structures manufactured and towed in sections to a location and placed on a permanent foundation. These are located on parcels of land with  permanent utilities that are connected to the modular homes.

Fast Fire Facts:

-- Between 2005 and 2009 there was an average of 12,400 mobile/manufactured home fires per year.

-- 234 people died, 453 people were injured and there was approximately $186 million dollars in direct property damage.

-- Mobile and modular homes’ smaller size supports faster moving fires.

Mobile Home fire safety tips:

-- Smoke alarms. Make sure your smoke alarms are working (change batteries annually and clean them monthly). If the alarm is 10 years old or older, replace the entire unit.

-- Consider purchasing smoke alarms that link together, so if one goes off they all go off, alerting everyone that there is a problem.

-- Heating fires are the number one cause of house fires. Keep your heating/cooling system well maintained. If you use space heaters, keep a three-foot area around the heater clear of flammables such as curtains, blankets and overstuffed furniture.

-- Properly maintain the home’s electrical distribution and lighting systems. The second leading cause of fires originates from the electrical and lighting equipment.

-- Never leave cooking food unattended. The number three cause of fires in mobile homes is cooking fires.

-- Make an exit drill plan and practice it both during day and nighttime hours at least twice a year.

For more information on fire safety for mobile homes visit www.nfpa.org/assets/files/PDF/Public%20Education/ManufacturedHomesSafetyTips.pdf.