Top 4 Causes of House Fires
Fire. It’s one of the scariest dangers for any homeowner, and while the number of house fires in the United States has steadily declined in recent years, these incidents still contribute to thousands of deaths and billions of dollars of damage each year.
While a fire alarm system can alert your family to danger and help you stop the problem before it gets out of hand, understanding what causes a house fire and knowing how to prevent these incidents is essential for protecting your home.
But what are the dangers you should be watching out for and what are the most common causes of house fires? Knowing these answers can help you protect your family and also save you from an insurance headache in the future. Below are the four most common causes of house fires and tips on ways you can help prevent them.
- Electrical Fires
Electrical fires are one of the most common threats homeowners face. Whether the result of an overloaded electrical outlet or a malfunctioning appliance, electrical fires can start suddenly and cause a lot of damage. The best tips for avoiding an electrical fire are first, be smart with your home’s electricity use! It's best not to overload a circuit and leave your lights on overnight (especially halogen lights and other high-risk materials). Use power strips in areas where you might need to keep several appliances or devices plugged in continually like at a home office desk.
Another great tip for doubling the safety in your home is to conduct an annual inspection of the electrical system to help avoid house fires. Professional electricians can identify faulty wiring, damaged outlets, and other hazards and then provide the repairs to keep your system safe. In older homes, the wiring can often be on a single circuit, which can cause breakers to short often and heighten the risk of an electrical fire. A professional can check your property for this and fix it if needed.
- Cooking Fires
Cooking fires rank as the number one cause of house fires in the United States, with the majority of incidents occurring when food is left unattended after cooking. Most commonly this happens when frying food, or any time when large quantities of grease are involved. Most of us are aware of proper kitchen and cooking safety, but sometimes we can be forgetful.
Your best bet to avoid a cooking fire is simply to keep an eye on your food at all times. Just like when you’re driving, don’t take your eyes off the road—well, the stove in this case. If a fire does occur, your key to fire safety is to cut off the fire’s oxygen and fuel supplies. There are three things that cause a fire to continue one is the heat, the second is fuel, and the third thing is the oxidizing agent (most often oxygen). Get rid of one of these sides of the triangle and you can kill the fire. The best tip to stopping a kitchen fire, or another fire on your property is to suffocate it by removing the oxidizing agent. Grease fires in kitchens should be covered with a lid over the pan, never use water to get rid of a grease fire-throwing water on a grease fire will actually make it worse. An oven fire can be handled simply by closing the oven door and turning the oven off.
Be smart and train others who live in your home or on your property to know how to respond the second a flame gets started. Taking the time to train and teach your family members is one of the best ways to avoid an insurance claim and protect your property, home and family.
You may not think of your clothes dryer as a fire hazard, but this kind of equipment accounts for tens of thousands of house fires each year. The problem most frequently occurs when lint and dust are allowed to build up over time. This can cause the dryer vent to become clogged with highly flammable materials, which easily combust when exposed to high temperatures.
Your best tip for dryer safety is to clean the lint trap each time before you use the dryer and to inspect and clean the dryer vent area to remove lint buildup and other potential blockages. Regular cleaning can ultimately make all the difference in avoiding a house fire. If other people in your house do the laundry, make sure they know to clean out the lint trap each time also. This simple practice can cut down on one of the main causes of so many different house fires.
Candles may seem like the perfect fit for a romantic evening or a blessing in a moment of a blackout, but the minute you leave a lit candle in an unoccupied room you’re asking for trouble. We have two tips: always blow out a candle if you’re going to leave a room, and never place a lit candle in a spot near combustible items or where it could be tipped over.
It’s easy to assume you’re already practicing each of these safety tips in your home, but it’s easy to get lackadaisical and before long you might find yourself filing an insurance claim; something you never want to have to do. Take the time to sit down with your family and walk them through the risks and each of these tips. Teach them the proper steps to prevent a house fire and also the proper way to put out a fire in the home (remember, water isn’t always the answer). As you watch out for these common house fire hazards and take the necessary preventative steps, you can have peace of mind as you keep your family and property safe.