House Fires: Five Leading Causes

house on fire

House fires can happen to anyone. Approximately 4 out of 10 house fires occur in homes without smoke detectors. Fires kill more people than all natural disasters combined. Knowing the leading causes of  house fires is the first step in fire prevention.

  • Cigarettes are the number one cause of house fire fatalities. Fires caused by cigarettes result in around eight-hundred deaths each year. These fires usually occur when a smoker falls asleep without extinguishing a cigarette. This type of fire generally occurs at night, when the whole family is asleep, which can make it difficult for everyone to evacuate in time. If you or another family member smokes, make sure that no one ever smokes in bed. A family rule that any cigarette smoking only be done outside is good for your family’s health and reduces the risk of a house fire.
  • Children often accidentally cause house fires because they do not fully understand the consequences of their actions. Children are naturally curious about fire. Teach your children that matches and lighters are not toys. Explain the consequences of a fire, and get your children involved in fire safety. Have them check the smoke detectors and look for any fire hazards in the house. If you get your children involved with your family’s fire prevention, they will be much less likely to experiment with matches or other fire starters.
  • Heating equipment such as space heaters can cause a fire if not used properly. Even a space heater with a shut-off switch can malfunction. To be absolutely certain that your family is safe, only use heating equipment when you are in the same room. That way, if a malfunction does occur, you will be able to get help before the fire causes a great deal of damage.
  • The risk of a dryer related fire is real but is often overlooked by homeowners. Over 15,000 clothes dryer fires occur every year. When homeowners fail to perform regular maintenance on their dryer vents, they can become clogged. If a spark from the dryer reaches this clog, the trapped dust and lint can ignite. Regular dryer vent cleaning is an affordable way to reduce your risk of a dryer fire.
  • Candles can be knocked over by children or pets. If the flame does not extinguish during the candle’s fall, it could ignite whatever it touches, such as a stray newspaper. If you are not in the room when this happens, by the time you realize what has occurred your entire living room could be in flames. Never leave a burning candle unsupervised. You should also never leave a candle in a child’s room, because it could easily get knocked over while the child is playing.

If you take these precautionary steps, you can reduce your family’s risk of a house fire. These five all-too-common causes of fire can destroy your family’s property and endanger their lives. Be sure and make sure you have a working fire extinguisher and make sure your smoke detectors are working. Smoke detectors should be replaced every ten years.