Most Common Causes of House Fires

The U.S. Fire Administration (USFA) collects data from a variety of sources to provide information and analyses on the status and scope of the fire problem in the United States.  Based on their research, in 2017 there were over 1.3 million fires in the United States.  Of these 3,400 people died and 14,670 were injured with a total cost of $23 billion in loss.  The question is: how can we protect ourselves and our homes from fire?  

I have listed the most common causes of house fires and some tips to prevent it from happening to you.


Pots and pans boiling over and faulty appliances such as a blender or toaster can cause a fire.  Never leave a hot stove unattended while cooking.  If you must leave the room, have someone come in a take over for you until you return. It is also a good idea to have a fire extinguisher somewhere in the kitchen (I keep mine under the sink).  Different sizes are available at your home improvement store.  Never throw water on a grease fire.  Always cover the flames with a lid.   

Electrical Equipment

According to the Electrical Safety Foundation International (ESFI), home electrical fires cause about 51,000 fires annually. These can be caused by frayed wiring on appliances, overloaded and overtaxed power strips, and lack of maintenance on larger appliances such as the clothes dryer.  If you notice fraying on electrical cords, replace the item immediately before it has a chance to spark.  Do not overload power cords or fuses. It’s wise to contact an electrician to add more fuses to your electrical box so keep it from getting overloaded as well as add a whole house power surge protector.  Be sure to clean your dryer lent tray after every load and a couple times a year, clean out the dryer vent.  For tips on how to maintain your dryer click here.     


Smoking is not only bad for your health it can be bad for your home.  Did you know that 73% of all house fire fatalities are caused by a cigarette?  If you must smoke, make sure the cigarette butts are completely out because they can stay lit for hours.  If you use an e-cig, make sure to monitor the battery when it is charging and do not put batteries in your pocket.  They can spark and explode when in contact with other metal objects, such as keys, coins, etc.  For more information on how to avoid vape battery explosions click here


For many burning candles is a no brainer in regards to accidental fires.  If you love the ambiance candles create, consider switching to battery operated LED candles or flameless candles.  For scents, try an electrical scent warmer or diffuser.  When only real candles will do, make sure to keep them away from anything flammable, and never leave them unattended.


Winter will be here before you know it.  Portable heaters accounted for 1/3 of all house fires between 2007-2011.  To ensure your space heater will keep you toasty warm all season long, make sure to have it inspected and maintained annually, keep everything at least three feet away from it, always turn off the heater when leaving the room or going to bed.  

Smoke Detectors

Okay, smoke detectors don’t cause fires, but the lack of them can cause a fire to go on longer than necessary.  The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) recommends a smoke detector outside of every sleeping area and at least one on each floor.  Having one close to the kitchen (but not too close – cooking can cause false alarms) can deter large cooking fires.  When installing follow the manufactures directions, test the alarm once a month, and replace batteries at least once a year or when it starts beeping indicating low battery.  


Of course we can’t forget our four-legged friends.

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