In 2015, 77% of structure fires were in residential properties, according to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA). House fires caused a total of $7.2 billion in damage. The cause of these fires range from candles left burning to unattended food in the kitchen. A lot of these fires are preventable so we want to share six of the most common causes of house fires as identified by the NFPA, including safety tips to minimize the risks.
From 2009-2013, the NFPA says there were an average of 9,300 home fires in the U.S. that were started by candles, causing 86 deaths, 827 injuries and approximately $374 million in property damage. That’s an average of 25 candle fires per day.
- Blow out all candles when you leave the room or go to bed.
- Avoid the use of candles in the bedroom.
- Keep candles at least 12 inches away from anything that can burn.
- Use candle holders that are sturdy and won’t tip over easily.
- Don’t burn a candle all the way down.
Cooking is the number one cause of home fires and home injuries.
- Be alert when cooking and don’t leave food unattended.
- Wear close-fitted clothing with short or tightly rolled sleeves.
- Keep hot pads, oven mitts, wooden utensils and towels away from any heat source.
- Do not place metal or foil in a microwave oven.
- Don’t throw water on a grease fire; put a lid on the pan to smother the fire.
Electrical fires can be caused by an equipment malfunction, an overloaded circuit, or from an overheated appliance such as a waster, dryer or space heater.
- Replace or repair damaged or loose electrical cords.
- Don’t overload circuits or outlets.
- Consider having additional circuits or outlets added by a qualified electrician so you don’t have to use extension cords.
- Consider hiring an electrician to perform an annual checkup of your home’s wiring.
Space heaters accounted for one-third of home heating fires from 2007-2011 and four out of five of home heating fire deaths.
- Keep anything that can burn at least three feet away from heating equipment.
- Never use your oven to heat your home.
- Have heating equipment cleaned and inspected annually.
- Turn off portable heaters when leaving the room or going to bed.
- Test smoke alarms monthly.
Smoking materials (i.e., cigarettes, cigars, pipes, etc.) are the leading cause of fire deaths in the United States.
- If you smoke, smoke outside.
- Use wide, sturdy ashtrays.
- Before you throw away butts and ashes, make sure they are completely out by dousing with water or sand.
- Never smoke in a house where oxygen is being used.
- Keep matches and lighters out of reach of children.
6. Dryers and washing machines
The leading cause of home dryer and washer fires is failure to clean them.
- Clean the dryer lint filter after every use and never use a dryer without a filter.
- Make sure the air exhaust vent pipe is not restricted and the outdoor vent flap will open when the dryer is running.
- Follow the manufacturer’s instructions and don’t overload your dryer.