More than 360,000 house fires happen each year, resulting in about $6-8 billion in damage. Luckily, most house fires are preventable. Here are six of the most common causes of house fires, as well as tips to help your family stay safe.

1. Cooking

This is the No. 1 cause of house fires. Most house fires caused by cooking start on the range as opposed to in the oven. That’s because the range is an open heat source rife with hazards, especially when you’re using extreme temperatures.

Prevent house fires when you’re cooking by:

  • Never throwing water on a grease fire. Instead, smother it with a pan or lid.
  • Always keeping smoke detectors and a fire extinguisher in the home.
  • Never leaving food to cook on a stovetop unattended.

2. Children

Curious minds and matches do not mix! Research shows children unintentionally cause an average of 7,100 home fires per year.

Prevent accidental fires caused by children by:

  • Teaching your children the importance of fire safety at an early age. Children under the age of 6 are the most likely to find trouble with matches and lighters.
  • Making sure all matches and lighters are stored out of reach of children.

3. Candles

Candles provide lovely ambiance and fragrance, but they are also a fire hazard when not used appropriately.

Stay safe when using candles in your home by:

  • Keeping candles away from flammable materials.
  • Never leaving a burning candle unattended, and always blowing it out before leaving a room or going to sleep.
  • Making sure candles are in secure holders. Elegant tapers are a nice accent, but they are much more unstable than jarred candles and, thus, more likely to tip over and cause a house fire.

4. Christmas Trees

A dry Christmas tree and electrical lights are a recipe for house fires. While live trees are a popular choice, they are also among the most flammable.

Enjoy your tree safely by:

  • Watering your live tree regularly to prevent it from drying out.
  • Resisting the temptation to keep your tree after the needles become dry and brittle.
  • Never leaving tree lights plugged in while you are sleeping or away — 32% of tree fires are a direct result of electrical failure.

5. Appliances 

Also among the top causes of house fires are dryers and washing machines.

Keep these essential appliances worry-free by:

  • Cleaning your lint screen after each use, and never using your dryer without it.
  • Not overloading your washing machine — your clothes won’t get any cleaner if they are all jammed together, anyway.
  • Making sure the dryer vent on the outside of the house is unobstructed.

6. Smoking

The number of fires caused by smoking has decreased significantly over the past decade, along with the number of smokers in the U.S. However, there is still a significant risk of fire associated with smoking, especially for the elderly.

If you or others in your home smoke, improve safety by:

  • Smoking cigarettes outside.
  • Never smoking in bed.
  • Using wide, sturdy ashtrays to hold butts and ashes. 

Protect Your Home

House fires are a scary possibility, but by using a few preventative measures, you can lower your risk considerably. Further protect your home from disaster with the right homeowners insurance coverage. Contact a Farm Bureau agent to review your coverage today.