Top 5 Causes of House Fires

There are many causes of house fires, and the best way to avoid them is to first acknowledge their roots. Here is a list of the top 5 Causes of House Fires with some tips on prevention.

House Fire Causes

1.  Cooking:

Cooking is the biggest cause of house fires anywhere in the United States.  Cooking with oils that overflow or spatter onto burners is a classic cause of kitchen fire, and you should always be sure to keep a fire extinguisher close by.  Never try to extinguish oil fires with water, as this will only spread the fire over walls and counter tops.

Do not leave an oven or stove unattended, and absolutely never leave the house, even for short durations, with something baking in the oven. When you are cooking, check on your food often, and be sensitive to burning smells.

Also, never leave hand towels, pot holders or other flammable objects on or around the stove where they are apt to catch fire. It’s best to keep these things in drawers, or hooks at a safe distance from the stove. Be sure to keep papers and cardboard – think of things such as recipes or food boxes – clear from the stove and immediately surrounding counter tops.

2.  Smoking:

Smoking is a lethal habit, and smoking inside – especially on couches and in beds – leads to more house fire deaths than any other cause (according to National Fire Protection Association reports). We have heard this scenario since we were children – the classic case of someone falling asleep with a lit cigarette in bed, only to wake up (or not) with their home in a blaze. Smoking is not healthy anywhere, but even less so inside your home. Never allow people to smoke in your house, and absolutely never smoke in bed.

3.  Heating:

Heating is also a major cause of fires in the United States, and usually in the winter months in instances where people use space heaters, or portable heaters. These types of heaters are very dangerous because of their small size and the fact that they can easily be knocked over, or moved too close to walls, furniture or fabrics. It is very important to keep space heaters in clear areas, far away from clothing and other flammable objects – you can even designate a safe area for them and put up signs (or gates) to help keep house guests aware of their presence.

4.  Electrical Wiring:

Electrical fires are also a major cause of house fires, especially in older houses with bad wiring and excessive dust/debris in the walls. It seems the older the house, the more prone it is to have a bare wire or connection that can come into contact with loose insulation, dust or debris. Be sure to do a visual inspection of your electrical boxes, and take a look behind your outlet and light switch covers – be sure to keep these things free of dust. Also, take a look and make sure your breaker box is in good condition – no frayed wires or signs of overheating.

5.  Electronics:

Similarly, electronics are a major cause of fires in the U.S. and should be used safely at all times. Be sure that you are not overloading outlets, that you use surge protectors, and that all of your electric appliances and equipment have adequate ventilation. Many electronic devices (stereos, computers, cable boxes, etc.) have built in fans to keep them cool. Be sure and keep the vents of these devices clear – away from walls and never covered up.

Antique electronics, such as lamps are also a major cause of house fire. Be sure to use the right size bulbs and never to exceed the recommended wattage. Also, be sure and keep an eye on any used electronics that you bring into the house, especially the first time you plug them in and use them. Look out for any sparking or smoking, and immediately unplug them if you see or smell anything. It’s always better to be safe than sorry – either throw them out, return them or have them serviced by a professional electronic repairman before using them.