Leading Causes of House Fires: Are You Prepared?

A stovetop is catching fire while a person is cooking.

House fires are one of the most devastating and dangerous disasters that can occur in a home. Not only do they pose a serious threat to the safety and well-being of those inside, but they can also result in significant property damage and loss.  

In Lee County specifically, there were a total of 153 residential structure fires reported in 2019, resulting in one civilian death and seven civilian injuries. Since then, the annual number of house fires continues to grow.  

Understanding the leading causes of house fires is crucial to prevent them from happening. In this article, we’ll discuss common causes of house fires, how to prevent them from happening, what to do if your house catches fire, and why it’s important to contact Fireservice Emergency Disaster Response after dialing 911.  

What Causes Most House Fires?

Understanding the danger associated with these common occurrences can help individuals be more cautious and take precautionary measures when necessary: 

Faulty Wiring

One of the leading causes of house fires is faulty wiring. Over time, electrical systems in homes can become worn or damaged, increasing the risk of a fire starting.  

Unattended Stovetops

Unattended stovetops, grease fires, and flammable materials near heat sources can quickly ignite and spread throughout a kitchen.  

Heating Equipment

Heating equipment, such as space heaters and furnaces, also pose a significant risk for house fires if not properly maintained.  

Smoking

Lastly, cigarettes that are not properly extinguished can easily ignite nearby flammable materials, such as furniture or bedding.  

How to Prevent a Fire in Your House

To prevent a fire from starting in your house, it is important to take these proactive measures to ensure the safety of your home and loved ones:

Fire Safety Equipment

Investing in fire safety equipment can mean the difference between minimal or extensive fire damage. Having a fire extinguisher or fire blanket on hand can eliminate the threat of a fire spreading in seconds. 

Be Cautious in the Kitchen

The kitchen is a common area where fires start, so it is important to never leave cooking food unattended. Keep flammable objects such as dish towels and curtains away from the stove and oven, and always supervise children in the kitchen. Additionally, make sure to clean grease and food debris from the stove and oven regularly to prevent potential fire hazards.

Electrical Safety

Overloaded outlets, frayed wires, and faulty electrical appliances can all pose a fire risk. Make sure to avoid using extension cords as a permanent solution and have a professional electrician inspect your wiring if you notice any issues. Unplug appliances when not in use and never run cords under rugs or furniture where they can become damaged.

Candles

It’s important to be cautious with candles, matches, and lighters in your home. Keep candles away from flammable materials and never leave them burning unattended. Store matches and lighters out of reach of children and teach them about fire safety.

Another important aspect of fire prevention is to have a fire escape plan in place for your family. Make sure everyone knows two ways out of each room in the house and designate a meeting spot outside. Practice your fire escape plan regularly so that everyone knows what to do in case of a fire emergency. 

Smoke Detector

What Should You Do if There’s a Fire in Your Home?

Knowing how to react quickly and effectively can mean the difference between life and death, which might seem extreme, but house fires can be life-threatening situations.  

  1. First and foremost, if you discover a fire in your home, it is crucial to remain calm and act quickly. Your priority should be alerting everyone in the household about the fire. Yell loudly or use a whistle to wake up sleeping family members and ensure that everyone is aware of the situation. 
  1. Once everyone is awake and aware of the fire, it’s time to evacuate the premises immediately. Leave all belongings behind and exit the building as quickly as possible. Remember to stay low to the ground if there is smoke present, as smoke rises and can be extremely harmful if inhaled. 
  1. As you make your way out of the house, close doors behind you to help prevent the spread of flames. This can help contain the fire to one area or room, giving you and your family more time to escape safely. Do not waste time trying to save personal belongings, as your primary focus should be on getting out of the house as quickly as possible.  
  1. If you encounter smoke while trying to escape, cover your mouth and nose with a cloth or piece of clothing to filter out some of the harmful particles. If possible, wet the cloth before placing it over your face to further protect yourself from inhaling smoke. 
  1. Once outside, call 911 immediately to report the fire. Provide them with your address and any relevant information about the situation. Do not re-enter the building under any circumstances until firefighters have deemed it safe to do so. 
  1. Once Fireservice Emergency Disaster Response has been notified of the fire, we’ll be on the road to the site of the fire as fast as possible. Our quick response times can help preserve the structural integrity and certain precious belongings in your home.  

FAQs About House Fires

Yes, smoke detectors play a crucial role in reducing house fire damage. They are designed to detect smoke early on, alerting you and the fire department of fires. It’s important to install smoke detectors on every level of your home, including inside bedrooms and outside sleeping areas. Test them regularly and replace batteries as needed to ensure they are functioning properly.

It’s recommended to have your electrical wiring inspected by a professional at least once every 5-10 years, depending on the age and condition of your home. However, you should also be vigilant in checking for potential hazards yourself regularly. Look out for frayed wires, overloaded outlets, flickering lights, and burning smells coming from electrical appliances. If you notice any signs of electrical issues, take immediate action to address them and prevent a fire from occurring.

To ensure your heating equipment is safe to use, make sure to have it inspected and maintained regularly by a professional. Keep flammable items at least three feet away from heaters, and never leave them unattended while in use. It’s also important to install carbon monoxide detectors in your home, especially near bedrooms, to alert you to any leaks from gas or oil heating systems.

Some common mistakes that can lead to house fires include forgetting to blow out candles before leaving a room, using damaged electrical cords or appliances, and improperly storing flammable liquids. It’s important to be aware of these potential hazards and take steps to prevent them, such as always extinguishing candles when not in use, replacing damaged cords or appliances, and storing flammable liquids in a safe location away from heat sources.

Cooking incidents are the number 1 cause of house fires in the United States. 

Fireservice Can Restore and Remodel Your Home

In the aftermath of a fire, smoke and soot can continue to cause damage if not properly addressed. These substances can seep into walls, furniture, and other surfaces, causing discoloration, corrosion, and lingering odors. By promptly initiating the restoration process, the professionals at Fireservice Emergency Disaster Response can remove these harmful substances and prevent them from causing additional harm to the property.  

In the event of an emergency, our fire damage restoration team will provide efficient and thorough mitigation and remodeling services that will help restore your home to its original condition.  

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