Annually, there were over 379,600 fires in 2018 at residences in America that caused over 8 billion dollars in damage, killed approximately 3000 people, and injured 11,000 more. Making sure you avoid a fire in your home and are prepared if one happens can save you and your loved one’s lives.
5 Common Causes of House Fires
- Cooking (#1)
- Heating Equipment (#2)
- Wiring (#3)
- Faulty Appliances
- Holiday Decorations
Cooking (50% of all house fires)
Fires originating in the kitchen from cooking account for almost half the fires in residential properties. Never leave the stove unattended when you’re cooking since it can take just seconds for food to catch fire or splatter to hit something that catches fire outside the pan. Having a fire extinguisher in the kitchen can help if something does catch fire and never pour water on grease as this will only make the situation worse. Cleaning your oven on a regular basis can also help prevent fires since pieces of food particles inside the stove from previous meals can catch fire at high temperatures.
Heating Equipment (12.5% of all house fires)
Furnaces, space heaters, and fireplaces are other ways fires can start. Nothing that is combustible should be near a space heater or fireplace and they should never be left unattended.
Wiring (6.3% of all house fires)
Faulty wiring is the third most common cause of fires in residential homes. While it’s the landlord’s responsibility to maintain and repair wiring, the landlord may be unaware there’s an issue and the tenant should notify the landlord or property manager if they see any indication that the wiring might be faulty. Indications that the wiring may need a professional to look at it is if lights dim when you use appliances, sparks, blown fuses, or blinking lights.
Unattended appliances or misused appliances can be the source of residential fires as well. Notify your landlord or property manager is outlets look worn or discolored and never overload them.
Smoking is another cause of thousands of house fires annually and is also a major cause of deaths and injuries since smoking fires only happen when people are home. Dropping a lit cigarette is a common way for a fire to start from smoking. Smoking outside the home (which you should do anyway to prevent smoke damage) is the best way to minimize fires in the home from smoking. Fires from smoking can also start outside the home damaging the exterior or landscape so make sure that you’re not close to the exterior walls or by any dry brush.
Unattended candles are another cause of fires. Never leave a lit candle unattended and trim the wick on a regular basis. Candles also can cause smoke damage if they are placed too close to walls in the home. Using electric or battery-operated candles can reduce the risk.
Holiday Decorations/Christmas Trees
When real Christmas trees don’t have enough water, they get dry and brittle. They should also never be placed next to the fireplace. Christmas tree lights should be turned off when you go to bed as they can also cause trees to catch fire.
In addition to the above, make sure that your smoke detectors work by testing them regularly and never removing the batteries without replacing them with new ones. Many residential fires are easily preventable. Prevention is the most important thing and having a plan in case something happens should also be discussed in your household, especially if you have children.