5 Causes for House Fires

April 12, 2021

House fire property claims are some of the most common and expensive in the United States. If you or someone you know has experienced a house fire, you know the devastating effects it has on the home and the family. They’re unfortunate, but there are ways we can prevent them. The main causes for house fires are related to cooking, heating equipment, faulty wiring, smoking, and candles. 

Cooking 

According to the NFPA, the number one cause of household fires is related to cooking. Picture this: you’re cooking dinner for the family and you left something in the other room so you leave the food on the stove. No big deal, right? Then you get distracted, maybe by a phone call, a fire starts without your awareness, and it goes out of control. Unfortunately, events similar to this happen all the time. 

To prevent this from happening, never leave your cooking unattended, keep an eye on the food in the oven, and keep a fire extinguisher in your home to tame the flames. Have an extinguisher located in your kitchen, garage, and on your porch if you have an outdoor grill. 

Heating equipment

Let’s talk about space heaters. They are the second most common cause of household fires. Space heaters are a great appliance to have handy, but they should only be used for small spaces. These space heaters can overheat and short which will result in a fire. Make sure that when you set up your space heater it’s not near flammable items like curtains, furniture, or carpet. Place it on a hard flat surface to keep it from falling over. Most space heaters are now made with an excellent safety feature that will automatically stop the heater if it falls over! 

Believe it or not, your fireplace can cause a house fire. According to the NFPA, some heating-related house fires are caused by solid-fueled heating equipment such as a furnace or fireplace.

Most heating-related fires occur in December, January, and February. Keep every heating source at a safe distance away from anything flammable.

Faulty Wiring

This seems to be an overlooked fire hazard. Have you ever noticed your lights dim when you’re using another appliance? How about your fuses constantly tripping or blowing when using another household appliance? Or, have you ever had to disconnect another appliance so that you could use another? These are some common signs of faulty wiring and are considered fire hazards if left unserviced.

Next time you’re vacuuming your home, be aware of the lighting when you turn it on. If they dim, call a professional electrician to inspect the wiring on your home. 

The most common for the cord and plug category is the use of extension cords. When you just need a bit more reach, these come in handy. Most of your appliances will specify if you can or cannot use a standard extension cord. Regardless, if you decide to use an extension cord, be sure to purchase a heavy-duty one!

Smoking

Most smoking-related fires are started in the living room area of the home. It’s convenient to smoke inside your home if you’re a smoker. Smoke outside of your home in a designated area, don’t smoke near anything flammable or dispose of your cigarettes in something that could catch flame like a potted plant, grass, or leaves. Dispose of your cigarettes in a deep and sturdy ashtray. It can become muscle memory to set it inside the tray, but make sure that you’re putting the cigarette in water before putting it in the tray. This can prevent embers from relighting the ashes! 

Using sand in an ashtray can prevent the ashes from lighting. Before you dispose of your ashes, soak them completely in water before you throw them out. Again, embers can be hidden and relight the ashes and cause a fire.

Fires caused by smoking are preventable. Be alert when you’re smoking and properly dispose of your cigarettes so that you keep yourself and your loved ones safe. 

Candles

Another potential fire hazard is from your candles. They have a way of adding the magic touch to any area of your household. Although household fires from candles can happen year-round, they are at their peak during the Christmas holiday. 

To stay safe during the holidays, keep your lit candles at a safe distance from anything flammable. This includes lampshades, decorations, curtains, or any other flammable object. Make sure your candle is placed on a sturdy surface to prevent it from tipping over. It’s not fun to clean and can cause a fire! 

Flameless candles, wax warmers, and essential oil diffusers are a great and safe alternative to standard candles. If you do decide to stick to regular candles, be safe and make sure you blow out your candles before leaving a room or the house

While house fires are preventable, accidents can happen. Make sure you’re keeping up to date on fire safety! Have a plan set in place for your family so that if a fire starts, you will know exactly what to do to keep your family safe. 

References

Top fire causes. (n.d.). NFPA.Org. Retrieved March 5, 2021, from https://www.nfpa.org/Public-Education/Fire-causes-and-risks/Top-fire-causes