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A pan on fire on a stove, one of the six causes of fires in the home.

6 Common Causes of Fires in the Home

September 18, 2015

More than 360,000 house fires happen each year, resulting in about $6-8 billion dollars in damage. Luckily, most house fires are highly preventable. Below are six of the most common causes of house fires, and our top tips to help keep your family safe:

  1. Cooking. This is the #1 cause of house fires, and most of them start with the range as opposed to the oven, an open heat source (and frying) being rife with hazards.

    • Never throw water on a grease fire – smother it with a pan or lid.

    • Smoke detectors and a fire extinguisher in the home are a must.

    • Never walk away and leave food to cook on a stovetop unattended.

  2. Children. Curious minds and matches do not mix! Research shows that children are accidentally responsible for an average of 7,100 home fires per year.

    • Children under the age of six are the most likely to find trouble with matches and lighters – teach your children the importance of fire safety at an early age.

    • Make sure all matches are lighters are stored well out of reach.

  3. Candles. They provide a lovely ambiance and fragrance, but they are also an obvious fire hazard.

    • Keep candles away from flammable materials.

    • Never leave one burning unattended, and always blow them out before leaving a room or going to sleep.

    • Make sure candles are in secure holders.Elegant tapers are a nice accent, but they are much more unstable than the solid glass-jar variety.

  4. Christmas Trees. A dry tree and electrical lights provide ample fuel make the holidays a prime season for fires. Live trees are a popular choice, but they are also among the most flammable.

    • Keep your live tree watered

    • Resist the temptation to keep them once the needles become dry and brittle.

    • Never leave tree lights plugged in while you are sleeping or away—32 percent of tree fires are a direct result of electrical failure.

  5. Appliances. Dryers and washing machines are surprising house fire culprits.

    • Clean your lint screen after each use, and never use your dryer without it.

    • Do not overload your washing machine—your clothes won’t get any cleaner if they are all jammed together, anyway.

    • And make sure the dryer vent on the outside of the house is unobstructed.

  6. Smoking. The good news is, the number of fires caused by smoking has decreased significantly over the past decade, along with the number of smokers in the US. There is still a significant risk of fire associated with smoking, especially for the elderly.

    • Always take cigarette smoking outside.

    • Never smoke in bed.

    • Use wide, sturdy ashtrays to hold butts and ashes. 

  7. Fire is a scary prospect, but by using a few preventative measures, you can lower your risk considerably. To ensure your home is protected from the unexpected, contact a Farm Bureau agent.