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Leading Causes of House Fires and How to Prevent Them

Leading Causes of House Fires and How to Prevent Them

House fires are more common than you might assume. It is reported that 2021 had 338,000 home structure fires in the U.S.* By putting in some safety measures, you can prevent fires in your home. Let’s look at some of the leading causes of house fires and how to prevent them.

🍳 Cooking 🍳

As the leading cause of home fires in the United States, follow these tips from the National Fire Protection Association for cooking safety:

  • Remain alert. Don’t use the stove if you are tired or have consumed alcohol.
  • Stay in the kitchen when frying, grilling, or broiling food. Turn the stove off to leave the kitchen for even a short time.
  • Check to simmer, bake, roast, or boil food regularly. Be in the home and use a timer as a reminder while food is cooking.
  • Clear your stovetop of anything that can catch fire, including oven mitts, wooden utensils, food packaging, towels, or curtains.

In the event of a cooking fire:

  • Keep a lid nearby so you can smother a stovetop grease fire by sliding the lid over the pan. Turn the stove off and leave the pan covered until completely cooled.
  • Turn off the heat and keep the door closed for an oven fire.
  • Ensure you have a clear way out and that others leave whenever fighting a fire.
  • Get out immediately if the fire grows! Help contain it by closing the door behind you.
  • Call the local emergency number or 9-1-1 after you leave the premises.

🌡️ Heating 🌡️

The second leading cause of house fires in the US is heating. Do your due diligence, and take these steps:

  • If you have old space heaters, you may want to replace them with newer ones that automatically turn off when overheated or tipped over. Keep them a distance of at least three feet from anything flammable.
  • Furnaces and chimneys should be professionally cleaned and inspected once a year.
  • Use a sturdy screen for all fireplaces. Never start a fire in a fireplace with flammable liquids. Allow ashes to cool completely, and use a metal bucket for disposal.

🔌 Electrical 🔌

Next up, we have electrical fires. Try these tips:

  • A qualified electrician should inspect your home, especially when buying an older home.
  • Any electrical work needs to be done by a qualified electrician.
  • Be aware of warning signs of faulty wiring. These can include: 
    • blown fuses 
    • visibly damaged wiring
    • discoloration around outlets
    • flickering lights
    • burning odors
  • Install Arc Fault Circuit Interrupters (AFCIs) to help prevent arc faults. These devices will shut off the circuit when detecting an arc.
  • Install a two-tired surge protection system. A power surge can cause a fire or damage appliances.
  • Consider smart sensor devices that can help detect other invisible dangers.

🕯️ Candles 🕯️

Candle fires still account for hundreds of injuries and deaths per year. Help reduce the numbers:

  • Burn candles only when under constant supervision.
  • Maintain a minimum of one-foot distance from flammable and combustible items in all directions from burning candles.
  • Trim candlewicks to within one-quarter (¼) inch from the top of the candle.
  • Never allow candles to burn down to the bottom of their container.
  • Extinguish all candles prior to leaving the house or at night when going to bed.
  • Set candles in locations safely out of reach of children or pets.
  • Place candles on secure surfaces and furniture unlikely to tip over.

🚬 Smoking 🚬

As the fifth leading cause, smoking also leads in the cause of home fire deaths. Take these measures recommended by the U.S. Fire Administration:*

  • Smoke outside. A lot of items in your home are flammable or combustible. The safest choice is always smoking outside.
  • Put cigarettes out completely. Every time. Never step away from lit cigarettes and other smoking materials. Pour water on the ashes and butts to ensure they are fully extinguished before disposing of them.
  • Be alert. Never smoke when taking medicine that makes you drowsy. Being tired or taking anything that causes sleepiness will impair your ability to prevent or escape a fire.
  • Never smoke around medical oxygen. If a flame or spark gets near medical oxygen, it can explode. A tank turned off can still catch on fire.
  • Never smoke in bed. Mattresses and bedding make easy fire fodder. Smoking in bed may end with you falling asleep with a lit cigarette. Do not take that chance.
  • Put your cigarette out in an ashtray or bucket with sand. Best practice calls for ashtrays with a wide base to prevent tipping over and starting a fire.

🎄 Trees 🎄

The holiday season is a time of celebration and joy. Prevent a fire disaster by putting these precautions in place:

  • Live trees need to be fresh with needles that are hard to pull from the branches and don’t break when bent between your fingers.
  • Heat sources such as fireplaces, vents, and radiators should be far from the tree’s location.
  • Check the tree stand water level daily and keep it filled.
  • Do not block doorways and traffic flow with the tree.
  • Artificial trees must have the “Fire Resistant” label.

LM Companies, LLC is licensed for fire damage and restoration. We are available 24-7 for water, fire, and odor damage in Northeast Ohio, including all major holidays! Contact us today to begin the process of restoring your residential or commercial property.




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