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The 4 Leading Causes of House Fires

Your loved ones and your community count on you to be experts in fire safety. Passing on your knowledge can be the key to saving a life.

Each year, the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) reports an estimated average of 354,000 U.S. house fires. These fires result in 2,620 civilian deaths; 11,220 civilian fire injuries; and $6.9 billion in property damage.

Here are the four leading causes you can share with your family and friends, along with prevention tips.

1. Cooking Ranges

According to the NFPA, cooking is the number one leading cause of home fires with 173,200 incidences a year. Also, households with electric stove-tops are more susceptible to fires than gas ranges. The contributing factor to ignition is placing items too close to the burners. 

Prevention Tips: 

  • Do not leave cooking mitts, rags, or loose items on the stove-top
  • Clean the stove-top after each use
  • Do not wear loose clothing and roll back your sleeves while cooking
  • Check any lights indicating that the oven or stove-top is still on
  • Completely power off the cooking range after use 
  • Teach children not to play with stove knobs or climb on counters and stoves
  • Use child proof stove covers for young children


2. Portable Heaters

We understand that during the winter season it can be hard to stay warm. But, it is easy to spark a fire by wrongly placing a heater. 86% of home fire deaths involve stationary or portable space heaters. This small but powerful equipment draws a lot of electricity from an outlet. An old extension cord may not handle the large amount of electricity passing through it. 

Prevention Tips:

  • Opt for portable heaters with safety features like tip over protection
  • Keep the heater 3 feet away from furniture
  • Do not plug the heater into an extension cord
  • Do not cover the heater 
  • Plug the heater directly into a wall outlet
  • Turn off the heater and unplug after each use


3. Electrical Distribution

Plugging cables into electrical outlets accounts for 6.3% of residential fires. Electrical fires in a one and two-family home takes the lead in this category by 83%. Additionally, the incidences spike during the winter month of January. Typically, electrical failure or malfunction is the main cause of ignition. 

Prevention Tips:

  • Check to make sure the cable is not frayed
  • Remove any cables from under the carpeting 
  • Never force a cable into an outlet 
  • Inspect loose outlets for any needed repairs
  • Do not nail or staple cables to the wall 
  • Avoid overloading outlets with too many cables

4. Smoking Materials

One in 20 home fires starts due to smoking materials. The leading point of origin that the fires begin is on a balcony or enclosed porch. Also, the majority of fatal victims are under 15 years old.

Prevention Tips:

  • Keep lighters, matches, and cigarettes out of reach of children
  • Use a deep ashtray 
  • Do not discard cigarettes in vegetation such as dried grass 
  • Douse butts and ashes in water before discarding 
  • Never leave charging e-cigarettes unattended 

Each of these home fires is preventable. Share these easy prevention tips to keep you and your family safe. Learn more about home fire safety and guidance here.

Categorized: Fire Safety, Fire Safety Advice, Home Safety


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