House fires can happen in a second and can quickly spread to a devastating situation. According to The National Fire Protection Association, 72% of fires in the United States are house fires – and many can be avoided with small changes to your daily routine.
Understanding the leading causes of house fires will help you become more aware and alert to the possibility of a dangerous situation, and potentially save your home from a house fire!
Top 10 Causes of House Fires (and How to Prevent Them)
1.) Leaving a pot or pan unattended.
Cooking is the number one cause of house fires in the United States. When cooking a meal, individuals tend to become distracted and stop paying attention to the stovetop. When a pot or pan overheats, or grease splatters onto the open burner, a fire can start in seconds. To prevent a kitchen fire, always stay nearby any item on a burner, and keep easily combustible items like oven mitts, paper towels, dish towels, etc. away from the flames!
2.) Malfunctioning heating equipment.
Portable heaters are one of the main reasons for house fires. While these portable machines are great for chilly areas of a home, it is vital to keep anything combustible at least three feet away from the space heater at all times. This means anything that could possibly burn – curtains, bedding, furniture, books. Anything that can catch fire needs to be kept away from the heater. Do not drape clothing over the space heater to dry as this can block the heating coils and quickly start a fire that can rage out of control.
3.) Unattended smoking.
If you, or someone in the home, is a smoker, this is another reason for house fires. Unattended cigarettes or cigars can set furniture, curtains, or carpet on fire quickly. Keeping the bedroom off limits to smoking and using large ashtrays that are deeper than normal are two ways to keep ashes and embers contained. The best way to prevent a house fire from a cigarette is to never leave it unattended, and never smoke while drowsy! A smoldering cigarette or ash can take hours before catching fire, always extinguish cigarettes with water.
4.) Open flames.
Candles may look nice, and make a room smell good, but one wrong move and a candle can cause a house fire in a matter of seconds. If candles are a must have in your house, keep the wicks trimmed to prevent the flames from becoming unruly. Keep candles on a flat surface, and away from pets and children that may knock them over. Never leave candles unattended, and always blow out the candles before leaving the room.
5.) Faulty electrical issues.
Many homes use electrical appliances and power strips to keep their homes running. If an outlet is overloaded with too many plugs or power strips a fire can spark without warning. Frayed cords and plugs could also cause sparks and running cords improperly under furniture or rugs are a perfect way for a fire to begin.
6.) Unattended children playing with fire.
Children are naturally curious and like to see what happens when something is set on fire. If matches or a lighter are easily accessible, this could be the start of a house fire. Children don’t understand the dangers of playing with fire and must be taught the dangers of fire before curiosity gets the better of them.
7.) Faulty wiring.
If you live in an older home or apartment the wiring may not be up to par. Look for warning signs of faulty wiring and hire a professional electrician immediately. Things to watch for include: fuses trip frequently, one appliance has to be unplugged to use another, lights dim when an appliance is in use, and extension cords are the norm in your home.
8.) Keeping flammable liquids in common areas.
Many people store things like paint thinner, paint, heavy duty cleaning supplies, fuel, adhesives, and other flammable liquids in their basements or garages. These items are the perfect accelerant for a house fire and can cause major damage with just one spark. Even high temperatures or a spark from static electricity can cause these items to ignite! Keep all flammable liquids in proper containers, and ideally away from the home in the outdoors.
9.) Holiday decorations.
Twinkle lights are festive and bring a certain warm glow to the home, but they also are one of the most common reasons for a house fire. Especially if you have a real tree, lights that overheat can cause the dry needles to go up in flames incredibly quickly. A tree should always have a stand that holds at least two liters of water which should be filled daily to keep the tree moist. Keep all decorations away from furnaces, fireplaces, and any other flammable sources. Lights should be checked for any frayed or damaged cords.
10.) Outdoor fires.
Barbecues and fire-pits are some of the best ways to spend a summer night. However, these are also a number one way to start a house fire. If you use a gas barbecue, it is vital to check all connections and removable parts on a regular basis. Check for potential gas leaks and keep the barbeque and fire pit a safe distance from your home.
These are the top reasons for house fires but remember that a fire can happen at any time, for any reason. While fire is devastating and terrifying, the professionals at McMahon Services are here to help you through the emergency.
Our professional fire restoration teams have built a “preferred contractor” status with many insurance companies, and we know the ins and outs of working with contractors and insurance agencies and will take care of every detail to return your home to normal as quickly as possible.
Contact McMahon Services 24 hours a day, 7 days a week – we’re open and ready to respond to any emergency. We will work endlessly to make sure you feel as if you never experienced a fire in your home. Contact us today.